Social media calls Matt Damon 'cancelled' after 'tone deaf' sexual assault comments

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Matt Damon recently found himself as a guest star in the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Now he just can’t escape it.

Matt Damon, at a screening for Downsizing on Dec. 11, spoke out at length about sexual misconduct in Hollywood — and his comments haven’t been well received. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)

The generally well-liked star of the upcoming Downsizing was widely criticized after initially saying he had no idea that Weinstein, who helped give him his start by championing Good Will Hunting, had a history of alleged sexual misconduct. Damon, 47, who reportedly helped kill a 2004 story about Weinstein, later admitted that his friend Ben Affleck had long ago made him aware that Gwyneth Paltrow claimed the disgraced movie producer had sexually harassed her.

Because his comments sparked criticism back in October, it would seem as though he’d be more prepared when broaching the topic again. But during an interview with Peter Travers for ABC News from Thursday, he yet again angered the internet with his Weinstein views.

“I knew I wouldn’t want him married to anyone close to me,” Damon said of the producer, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by nearly 90 women. “But that was the extent of what we knew. I mean, and that wasn’t a surprise to anybody. So when you hear Harvey this, Harvey that — I mean, look at the guy. Of course he’s a womanizer. … I mean, I don’t hang out with him.” (Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.)

Matt Damon with Ben Affleck and Harvey Weinstein on Oct. 7, 2016. (Photo: Mireya Acierto/WireImage)

However, though he said, “It’s wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories, and it’s totally necessary,” he also thinks “that there’s a spectrum of behavior, right? And we’re going to have to figure — you know, there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?”

Damon added, “All of that behavior needs to be confronted, but there is a continuum. And on this end of the continuum where you have rape and child molestation or whatever, you know, that’s prison. Right? And that’s what needs to happen. OK? And then we can talk about rehabilitation and everything else. That’s criminal behavior, and it needs to be dealt with that way. The other stuff is just kind of shameful and gross.”

While Damon probably should have wrapped up there (or, again, not said anything), he persisted. He shared his thoughts on Al Franken, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, and more on Weinstein.

Al Franken: “I personally would have preferred if they had an Ethics Committee investigation, you know what I mean?” he said about the Minnesota senator, who has announced he will resign. “It’s like at what point — you know, we’re so energized to kind of get retribution. … When you see Al Franken taking a picture putting his hands on that woman’s flak jacket and mugging for the camera, going like that, you know, that is just like a terrible joke, and it’s not funny. It’s wrong, and he shouldn’t have done that. … But when you talk about Harvey and what he’s accused of, there are no pictures of that. He knew he was up to no good. There’s no witnesses. There’s no pictures. There’s no braggadocio. … So they don’t belong in the same category.”

Louis C.K.: ”I don’t know all the details. I don’t do deep dives on this, but I did see his statement, which kind of, which [was] arresting to me. When he came out and said, ‘I did this. I did these things. These women are all telling the truth.’ And I just remember thinking, ‘Well, that’s the sign of somebody who — well, we can work with that.’ … I don’t know Louis C.K.. I’ve never met him. I’m a fan of his, but I don’t imagine he’s going to do those things again. You know what I mean? I imagine the price that he’s paid at this point is so beyond anything that he — I just think that we have to kind of start delineating between what these behaviors are.”

Kevin Spacey: “That was smart,” Damon said of Ridley Scott erasing the House of Cards actor from All the Money in the World. “That was a total business decision by Ridley. I haven’t talked to him, but … it wasn’t a creative choice for Ridley. Ridley has a big movie coming out … and nobody right now is in the mood to see a Kevin Spacey movie. … And I don’t disagree with his decision to do that. I mean, that movie, I think, will do much better without Kevin in it.”

Harvey Weinstein: “Nobody who made movies for him knew,” Damon said of the rape allegations. (Rose McGowan has said differently.) “Any human being would have put a stop to that, no matter who he was. They would’ve said absolutely no. You know what I mean?”

Damon also shared how he would feel if someone he was close to was accused of sexual assault or harassment. “It depends on what the accusation is,” he said. “It depends what’s going on. If it’s a friend of mine, I’m always talking to them. I know the real story if it’s my friend. If it’s a colleague … I don’t know. … I guess it depends on the situation and the allegation and how believable I think it is.”

Of course, Damon’s very good friend, Casey Affleck, settled a sexual harassment lawsuit, so it’s hard not to read between the lines there. Also, Ben Affleck apologized for acting “inappropriately” for groping Hilarie Burton.

Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, and Ben Affleck in 2005. (Photo: L. Cohen/WireImage)

Additionally, when asked if “we’re going to see the change in the making of movies now with people being so aware,” Damon detailed a hypothetical scenario in which if he had a big movie coming out, what he and his team might do if a false allegation was lodged against him. “’OK, I’ll pay it, but you can never talk about this again,’” he imagined himself saying. “’You’re f***ing lying about this, but never talk about this again.”

Twitter has not reacted well to Matt Damon’s thoughts on the topic.

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