Matt Damon: ‘I am not the story here. The story is these women & what happened’

42nd Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) - 'Downsizing' - Photocall

I think the knives were probably always going to be out for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck specifically. Their careers were formed, nurtured and forever altered because of Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein packaged them and sold them and made sure that they won their screenplay Oscar. They worked with Weinstein again and again over the years. So, of course Matt and Ben would always be “expected” to come out and say something. But after Sharon Waxman published her media-criticism piece about the New York Times killing another exposé in 2004, the knives were out for Matt even more. At the time, Waxman was writing about Fabrizio Lombardo, someone employed by Weinstein in an official capacity, but someone whose main job seemed to be “procurer” and “pimp.” Waxman wrote, “After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story was gutted.” Weinstein had Matt Damon provide a character reference for a man who was likely procuring women for Harvey’s pleasure.

Everyone was waiting for Matt to say something. And finally, he has. Much like George Clooney’s conversation with the Daily Beast, Matt sat down with a friendly outlet (Deadline) and even allowed follow-up questions. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

His memory of the phone call he made to Waxman in 2004: “My recollection was that it was about a one minute phone call. Harvey had called me and said, they’re writing a story about Fabrizio, who I knew from The Talented Mr. Ripley. He has organized our premiere in Italy and so I knew him in a professional capacity and I’d had dinner at his house. Harvey said, Sharon Waxman is writing a story about Fabrizio and it’s really negative. Can you just call and tell her what your experience with Fabrizio was. So I did, and that’s what I said to her. It didn’t even make the piece that she wrote. As I recall, her piece just said that Russell and I had called and relayed our experience with Fabrizio. That was the extent of it and so I was very surprised to see it come back. I was never conscripted to do anything. We vouch for each other, all the time, and it didn’t even make her article. Whether it didn’t jibe with her storyline…it was an incomplete rendering of someone that I was giving but I had perfectly professional experiences with Fabrizio and I didn’t mind telling her that…I’m sure I mentioned to her that I didn’t know anything about the rest of her piece, because I didn’t. And I still don’t know anything about that and Fabrizio. My experience with him was all above board and that’s what I told her.

Whether he was asked, in 2004, to provide a character reference for Harvey: “No, I just remember it being a negative piece, a hit job on Fabrizio, was what Harvey was saying. Basically, that he had no professional experience. Harvey said, you worked with him. Can you tell her that he was a professional and you had a good experience, and that was it. I didn’t mind doing it, because that was all true.

On the criticism he’s received from people like Jessica Chastain: “Look, even before I was famous, I didn’t abide this kind of behavior. But now, as the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night. This is the great fear for all of us… We know this stuff goes on in the world. I did five or six movies with Harvey. I never saw this. I think a lot of actors have come out and said, everybody’s saying we all knew. That’s not true. This type of predation happens behind closed doors, and out of public view. If there was ever an event that I was at and Harvey was doing this kind of thing and I didn’t see it, then I am so deeply sorry, because I would have stopped it. And I will peel my eyes back now, further than I ever have, to look for this type of behavior. Because we know that it happens. I feel horrible for these women and it’s wonderful they have this incredible courage and are standing up now.

The change that’s happening: “We can all feel this change that’s happening, which is necessary and overdue. Men are a huge part of that change, and we have to be vigilant and we have to help protect and call this stuff out because we have our sisters and our daughters and our mothers. This kind of stuff can’t happen. This morning, I just feel absolutely sick to my stomach.

Matt says he’s not the story: “This would have been a difficult past couple of days even if my name hadn’t been dragged into it. I am not the story here. The story is these women and what happened to them. So if I’m experiencing this discomfort, it hardly bears mention. There are some real victims here and they are being incredibly brave. Hopefully, them going through this experience right now will help them heal. They are who we all should be thinking about.

He would never try to kill that kind of story:
“For the record, I would never, ever, ever try to kill a story like that. I just wouldn’t do that. It’s not something I would do, for anybody.

[From Deadline]

CB and I were talking about whether Matt Damon comes across as someone who “performs” his wokeness, and I think he does (CB thinks the same). I rolled my eyes a few times at the talk of his fears as a father and “we have our sisters and our daughters and our mothers.” Yeah, but… what about the women who aren’t related to you, dude? What about your female coworkers, your female assistants, your female producers, your female costars? Why do men think that mentioning their female relatives is some kind of shorthand for “trust me, I’m a decent guy”? Breaking news: plenty of dudes who have daughters are pretty terrible people (see also: Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump). Now, all that being said, I do believe him about the 2004 conversation – I think Harvey asked him to do it as a defense of Fabrizio Lombardo, to provide a character reference for Lombardo and that’s it, and that’s what Matt did.

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190 Responses to “Matt Damon: ‘I am not the story here. The story is these women & what happened’”

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  1. JoJo says:

    I vaguely alluded to this in a post above, but are we really supposed to believe that E! just randomly “decided” to run this glowing puff piece on Matt on Sunday? Seems more like his PR team suspected Matt was about to be pulled into the fray – because lo and behold, Rose McGowan called him out directly on Twitter the very next day.

    An Investigation into Matt Damon’s Image: How He Manages to Keep His Life Running Smoothly as His Fellow Stars Stumble:

  2. Andrea says:

    I think they all heard rumors, but what could they do. Harvey is the money guy. The same can be said about all the women who new. Why didn’t they come forward…. because Harvey is the money guy. He has the connections to get a movie green lighted. Not only that he had the media connection to make or break a career. If Matt is guilty of not doing something so is every single person male and female that made a movie with Harvey. I love taking people down, but lets not pick and choose who is guilty of the same behavior.

    • K says:

      I agree with that. I don’t buy that they didn’t know. I do buy that they couldn’t do anything about it.

      It would just be easier to like and respect them if they showed the sort of courage the women who have fronted with this have had to – they had to say they knew about it. Why can’t these men?

  3. Linguistgrl says:

    Matt Damon uses the exact grammar liars do to deny something they did: „I would never have done such a thing” . He’s so full of shit he could be a manure truck.

  4. Nibbi says:

    I *want* to believe him.
    He’s always come off as such a decent guy. He just *looks* so earnest and nice.
    But …
    I mean, c’mon.

  5. FuefinaWG says:

    I’m going to get a ration of shit for this but here goes: I don’t think there is this secret club for all men where they know everything other men are doing. I dated a sociopath and had no idea he was a fucking sociopath until the day I found out. I think he’s right in that this shit happens behind closed doors. Weinstein was a powerful man in Hollywood and he was able to hide the sexual assault behind closed doors. Women chose careers over ratting the guy out. Others not assaulted weren’t sure if what they were being told was true or not. (I used to have a friend who made up stories about men abusing her only to have the same person say “no, it wasn’t true, but I really hated him.”) Years ago if the same thing had happened to me when I was still climbing up the Hollywood ladder I probably would have kept quiet too … and tried to stay away from the asshole. Paltrow told Pitt about it and Pitt probably had enough pull to stop it. Do I think the asshole is guilty? Hell yes, I do! But I don’t think Clooney, DiCaprio, Damon, and every other man in Hollywood who couldn’t read the stone faces of women after it happened are guilty of keeping quiet.

    • K says:

      In terms of Affleck and Damon… Rose McGowan says she told Affleck after she was attacked, as it happened at a film festival and they were both present, and he said, “Goddammit I told him to stop doing that” and then made her do a joint press conference. And then there’s the issue with Casey Affleck – seems fairly clear they knew that one. I’m not sure how those facts all go with ignorance. Affleck definitely wasn’t in the dark – according to McGowan, he even said he’d told Weinstein to stop (though he’s a gropey little shit himself, anyway – and that nanny was also on his payroll, however hungry she may have been). Was Damon? I doubt it.

      It also beggars belief that Weinstein was being discussed, by name, on this site years ago, yet Hollywood was oblivious. So many women say they talked to one another and it was an open secret.

      I think it’s truer to say that all these men knew he was a serial sexual harasser, but they wrote that off as his being, “a dirty dog who liked to hit on young women” which was okay to them, instead of his being a rapist, which isn’t.

  6. Ellis says:

    I can admit it, I was wrong about Clooney. And for anyone to say they didn’t know he was a sexual predator, who made millions working with him, is becoming more implausible by the minute. I can’t even keep up with the internet right now, of women coming forward. Cara Delevinge has a particularly interesting revelation that includes a director that left her to him, and a Weinstein assistant that was clearly an abettor. Wow. I can understand the legal ramifications of publically naming names at this point, but all these women need to get together, comprise a list of people who definitely knew, and do just that. I can give up movies and television, and it sounds like I’ll have to.

  7. K says:

    His saying the story is about the women? No! NO, actually it’s about men. The entire point is that these women had no say in what was happening. It’s a story about male power.

    They help to create and fuel a culture that allows men to do this. Throwing it on the women is just making it about who was forced to do what. That’s not the f-ing problem here. It’s no better than parsing what women were wearing when attacked, or what they could have done to stop someone who, by definition, was not interested in what they wanted to happen.

    They had no control here. Their choices are not the freaking problem. This really, in the most basic sense, is not about the women. It is all – ALL – about the men.

    The focus needs to be on why and how this man, and so many others, were enabled. The focus needs to be on Weinstein and the systems around him that made it so easy. And it needs to be on how men can create a better, safer working environment in that industry.

    He’s conflating men speaking for women, and not allowing men to voice their experiences, with spotlighting male abuse. That’s not okay. It’s the same way some white people expect the black community to solve racism. It’s the community with the power who need to do that – not the marginalised group.

  8. Indigo says:

    There is no way that Ben Affleck didn’t know if heard directly from Rose McGowan AND he dated Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Pitt definitely knew that it was more than “rumors” from both Gywneth AND Angelina Jolie and it seems highly unlikely that neither of them would’ve spoken with close friends Matt Damon and George Clooney about it at any time. It sounds like they just bought into the idea that he was too powerful or that he could damage them in retaliation. SO it’s a lie to say if they had known, they would’ve done something to stop it – because they DIDN’T and they ALL have privilege and power.

  9. mouse tolliver says:

    In other words, instead of trying to kill the story, he tried to gaslight all the women who had bad experiences with Fabrizio Lombardo by insisting he’s a good person and not a sleazy pimp. Why would he even feel qualified to comment when he had no personal knowledge of what happened? Oh, right! He’ Matt Damon, knower of all things.

  10. Vovicia says:

    Is Affleck’s head about to explode off his neck in that last photo?
    I don’t know how old these guys were when their relationship with Miramax started. I think they were pretty young though. And stupid. Hell, Affleck is still pretty stupid. I don’t necessarily think it’s unreasonable to assume that men like Harvey also exert a powerful sway over young men as well. Obviously, (at least so far) there is a difference – but I’ve met people like Weinstein (not so famous but that type) and their almost(?) sociopathic manipulative charm is not limited to the women that happen to enter their sphere.
    But they are older and I believe McGowan certainly when she says she told him about Weinstein and I don’t for a second believe that this information wasn’t passed onto Damon, if he already didn’t know.

  11. GinT says:

    Yeah if you can’t see half of the population as human beings until AFTER you have daughters, you are a giant DB. I’m glad I never liked this guy but now he seriously enrages me. Go away, Matt.