Matt Damon on Weinstein: 'I knew he was an a**hole...but this level of criminal sexual predation is not something I ever thought was going on'
Matt Damon is adamant he had no idea how far Harvey Weinstein had taken his reputation as a "bully" and a "womaniser", insisting "this level of criminal sexual predation" is beyond shocking.
The Martian star landed his big break with Weinstein and his former production company, Miramax, after they picked up the rights to Good Will Hunting, the Oscar-winning 1997 drama Damon had co-written with his longtime pal Ben Affleck.
He went on to feature in a handful of other Miramax productions, but Damon was unaware of how Weinstein was behaving behind closed doors, amid allegations he sexually harassed or assaulted multiple women over three decades.
"I was there at the height of his power," Damon admitted on U.S. breakfast show Good Morning America. "You only had to spend five minutes with Harvey Weinstein to know he was a bully; he was intimidating. That was his legend; that was his whole MO (method of operation): Could you survive a meeting with Harvey? Could you stand up for yourself with Harvey...?"
"When people say 'everybody knew (about the sex allegations)' - yeah, I knew he was an a**hole. He was proud of that... That's how he carried himself. And I knew he was a womaniser. I wouldn't want to be married to the guy, but like, that's not my business, really, but this level of criminal sexual predation is not something I ever thought was going on, absolutely not."
Matt admits he was aware of the unwanted advances Weinstein had reportedly made towards Gwyneth Paltrow, Affleck's ex-girlfriend, in a hotel suite when she was 22, a story she recently detailed in a New York Times article, but claims any tension they may have had in the past was no longer evident when they all worked together on 1999's The Talented Mr. Ripley.
"I knew the story of Gwyneth, from Ben, 'cause he was with her after Brad (Pitt)... but I was working with Gwyneth with Harvey on Ripley," he recalled. "I never talked to Gwyneth about it... but I knew that they had come to whatever agreement or understanding that they had come to. She had handled it, and she was the First Lady of Miramax and he (Weinstein) treated her incredibly respectfully. Always."
Damon's frequent collaborator, George Clooney, was also present for the Good Morning America interview, during which he revealed Weinstein would frequently boast about famous women he had had affairs with - but The Descendants star always thought he was lying.
"To believe would be to believe the worst of some actresses who were friends of mine, and I didn't really think that they were gonna have affairs with Harvey, quite honestly, and clearly they didn't," he said.
Clooney went on to admit it's "beyond infuriating" to discover Weinstein had allegedly paid off a number of his reported victims, including actress Rose McGowan, to keep his bad behaviour under wraps, and it's made him more determined than ever to ensure the disgraced producer and others like him get their "comeuppance".
More than 40 women have come forward with accusations against Weinstein ever since his alleged actions were first detailed in an expose in The New York Times, and a subsequent article in The New Yorker, earlier this month (Oct17).
Weinstein, 65, has denied any claims of non-consensual sex, but has previously apologised for other inappropriate behaviour from his past, and is currently seeking professional help for psychological issues in Arizona.