While Harvey Weinstein did respond to Lupita Nyong’o’s New York Times op-ed specifically, the embattled Hollywood mogul has largely remained silent when it comes to addressing his accusers, and their supporters, specifically. This raises important questions about gender and power, especially since Weinstein has refrained from responding to the likes of Quentin Tarantino, who admitted he “knew enough to do more than I did.” Yet as Tarantino’s provocative comments demonstrate, the ongoing scandal also raises questions about the men in Weinstein’s circle — like what did they know, and if they knew anything, why didn’t they speak out?
Rose McGowan called out her Phantoms co-star Ben Affleck because of this very issue. His Good Will Hunting collaborator Matt Damon also received plenty of criticism for what many perceived to be a “glaring hypocrisy” between his statements on Weinstein’s behavior, and his prior work with the man. On Monday, however, Damon appeared on Good Morning America to discuss the matter in detail:
“When people say everybody knew, yeah, I knew he was an *sshole. He was proud of that. That’s how he carried himself. I knew he was a womanizer. I wouldn’t want to be married to the guy, but that’s not my business, really. But this level of criminal sexual predation is not something that I ever thought was going on. Absolutely not. I knew the story about Gwyneth [Paltrow] from Ben, because he was with her after Brad. I knew that story, but I was working with Gwyneth, with Harvey, on [The Talented Mr. Ripley]. I never talked to Gwyneth about it. Ben Told me, but I knew that they had come to whatever agreement or understanding they had come to. She had handled it. She was the First Lady of Miramax, and he treated her incredibly respectfully. Always.”
George Clooney, who has spoken publicly against the producer at length, sat down with Damon during the interview. “The idea that this predator, this assaulter, is out there silencing women? It’s beyond infuriating, and the fact that the story is coming out now? The more it comes out? I want to know all of it.” Even so, Good Morning America‘s Michael Strahan wasn’t completely satisfied. “You’ve heard it like you say,” he began, “but you never saw anything?”
“He didn’t do it out in the open,” Damon explained before launching into a preemptive apology. “If there was ever an event or something that I was at, in public with Harvey, and he was doing this kind of thing and I missed it? And there’s some woman who was somehow assaulted, and it was at the Golden Globes, and I somehow missed it? Then I’m sorry.”
As for moving forward, Clooney acknowledged the many police investigations being opened or re-opened against Weinstein. “There has to be a comeuppance for all of this,” he said. “All of the people who were a part of that chain. Then we have to make it safe for people to feel that they can talk about this. And in doing that, I think that will scare away that kind of behavior.” That said, Clooney insisted a “warning shot over the bow” was the most important response at the moment. “You will be outed, and you will be out of the business,” he said. “More than that, you might be prosecuted.”