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12/15/2017 02:45 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2017

Matt Damon Opens Up About Sexual Misconduct And It’s Kind Of A Mess

“There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?”
Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

Matt Damon — a man who disclaimed any knowledge of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged misdeeds and then admitted he knew the producer had harassed Gwyneth Paltrow — has a few opinions about the slew of sexual misconduct scandals rocking Hollywood. And they’re … interesting.

The Oscar-winning actor, who got his big break when Weinstein picked up his film “Good Will Hunting,” spoke with ABC News’ Peter Travers on Thursday. During their chat, he addressed the allegations against the fallen producer with a certain lack of clarity about what he himself knew.

“Nobody who made movies for him knew. … Any human being would have put a stop to that, no matter who he was. They would’ve said absolutely not,” Damon said.

He added: “I knew I wouldn’t want him married to anyone close to me. But that was the extent of what we knew, you know? And that wasn’t surprising 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.”

Damon also expressed the view that sexual harassment isn’t as bad as sexual assault.

“I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behavior,” he said. “And we’re going to have to figure out — 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?”

But he wasn’t done there: “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.”

Minnie Driver, who co-starred with Damon in “Good Will Hunting,” had a thought about those comments on Friday:

During the ABC interview, Damon provided a few examples of what he meant.

In the case of Louis C.K., the 47-year-old actor suggested that the comedian has already paid a price “so beyond anything” he’s been accused of and Damon can’t “imagine he’s going to do those things again.” The actor also applauded the way Louis C.K. handled the situation:

“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.’”

In the case of Kevin Spacey, he thinks director Ridley Scott — who dropped Spacey from “All the Money in the World” after he was accused of sexual misconduct — made a smart “business decision.”

“Ridley has a big movie coming out … and nobody right now is in the mood to see a Kevin Spacey movie,” Damon said.

“And I don’t disagree with his decision to do that,” he added. “I mean, that movie, I think, will do much better without Kevin in it.”

In discussing how he thinks “the day of the confidentiality agreement is over,” Damon offered this example of how he might have handled a hypothetical accusation of sexual misconduct 10 years ago:

Ten years ago, you made a claim against me and I had a big movie coming out, OK? I have $100 million or I have a movie that is personally important to me coming out, and close to the release of that film, you say, “Matt Damon grabbed my butt and stuck his tongue down my throat.” We would then go to mediation and organize a settlement.

I’d go, “I don’t want this out there. Peter’s going to go out and talk to the press and run his mouth, and 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.”

If a sexual misconduct allegation were aimed at him, Damon warned he wouldn’t sit by quietly.

“I don’t care if it costs me $10 million to fight this in court with you for 10 years ― you’re not taking my name from me.”

The story has been updated with a comment from Minnie Driver.

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