Actors Matt Damon and George Clooney sat down with Michael Strahan Monday for an interview about the multitude of sexual harassment and assault allegations against their former collaborator, Harvey Weinstein, in which Damon admitted knowing about the fallen movie mogul’s alleged assault of actress Gwyneth Paltrow, but maintained that he didn’t know about any allegedly criminal behavior.
“I knew he was an a**hole. He was proud of that,” Damon told Strahan on Good Morning America. “That’s how he carried himself. I knew he was a womanizer. I wouldn’t want to be married to the guy, but you know, but that’s not my business really. But this level of criminal sexual predation is not something I ever thought was going on. Absolutely not.”
Damon said his friend and fellow actor Ben Affleck had told him about an alleged incident between Weinstein and Paltrow, who won an Oscar in the Weinstein-produced 1998 drama Shakespeare in Love. Paltrow herself opened up about the alleged incident to the New York Times this month.
“I knew that story. But I was working with Gwyneth, with Harvey, on [The Talented Mr.] Ripley,” Damon said. “I never talked to Gwyneth about it. Ben told me. But I knew that they had come to whatever agreement or understanding that they had come to. She had handled it. And you know, she was the ‘First Lady of Miramax,’ and he treated her incredibly respectfully, always.”
Damon added that he believes Weinstein never engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior while in public, and also apologized if he had missed any blatant evidence of wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Clooney told Strahan that he had heard from Weinstein about affairs he had allegedly been having with actresses, but that he didn’t believe the claims.
The interview with the two stars comes as more than 40 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault dating back decades. The initial story on the allegations, published by the New York Times this month, has sent shockwaves through the entertainment business and has led to new scrutiny of how the industry treats its female talent.
Damon’s name was previously involved in the controversy when The Wrap founder Sharon Waxman wrote in a recent story that the actor, along with Australian actor Russell Crowe, had attempted to stifle a story about Weinstein’s inappropriate behavior with women as far back as 2004, when she was working for the New York Times. Damon vehemently denied Waxman’s claim.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum