Matt Damon offered his two cents on the seemingly endless number of Hollywood heavyweights and public figures who have been accused of sexual misconduct in recent months, but his comments have not been particularly well-received.
In a recent interview for ABC’s Popcorn with Peter Travers (hosted by Rolling Stone’s longtime film critic), Damon lauded the men and women who have come forward with their stories of sexual harassment, assault and abuse at the hands of boldfaced names like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K. and Al Franken, among many others. But the conclusion that he has drawn, Damon said, is that not all misconduct is created equal.
“I think it’s wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories and it’s totally necessary,” he said. “I do believe there’s a spectrum of behavior. … 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.”
Damon pointed to the difference, in particular, between the crimes Weinstein has allegedly committed (rape) and the unsavory acts that C.K. has admitted to (masturbating in front of female colleagues), and what he believes to be the appropriate punishments.
“All of that behavior needs to be confronted, but there is a continuum,” he said. “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.”
The Oscar-winning actor added that though C.K.’s actions were wrong, his apology warrants forgiveness from the public.
“I don’t know Louis C.K. I’ve never met him,” he said. “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.”
In discussing Weinstein’s own actions, Damon denied speculation that his behaviors were an open secret in Hollywood. (The actor previously denied knowing anything about the producer’s alleged sexual misconduct; he later admitted that he knew Weinstein had come onto Gwyneth Paltrow back in the day through his pal Ben Affleck).
“A lot of people said, ‘Well, Harvey – everybody knew.’ … That’s not true,” he said. “Everybody knew what kind of guy he was in the sense that if you took a meeting with him, you knew that he was tough and he was a bully, and that was his reputation. [But with regard to the rape allegations,] nobody who made movies for him knew. … Any human being would have put a stop to that, no matter who he was.”
In the interview, Damon also praised director Ridley Scott for replacing Spacey with Christopher Plummer in the upcoming film All the Money in the World (“That was smart,” he said); hinted that he would hypothetically stick up for Casey Affleck or any friend who got accused (“I know the real story if it’s my friend,” he said); and noted that Franken shouldn’t have resigned so quickly following accusations of groping and other inappropriate advances (“I personally would have preferred if they had an Ethics Committee investigation,” he said).
If he himself were to be accused, Damon said, he already had a game plan in place.
“We would then go to mediation and organize a settlement,” he said of lawyering up in such a hypothetical situation. “I’d go, ‘I don’t want this out there. … it’s going to be overshadowing the opening of this movie. How much money do you want?’ The lawyers would get together, and they do this cost-benefit analysis, and they’d go, ‘Oh, this is what it’s worth.’ And I look at the number and go, ‘OK, I’ll pay it, but you can never talk about this again. You’re fucking lying about this, but never talk about this again.'”