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Arts and Entertainment

Matt Damon Denies Trying To Help Kill That 2004 New York Times Weinstein Exposé

Damon at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)
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Actor and producer Matt Damon came forward Tuesday to deny accusations that he and fellow actor Russell Crowe had allegedly helped to kill a 2004 New York Times exposé on Harvey Weinstein's alleged pattern of sexual misconduct against women in Hollywood.

In an interview with Deadline on Tuesday, Damon pushed back against The Wrap writer Sharon Waxman's allegations that he and Crowe had called Waxman at Weinstein's urging in 2004, after she filed a New York Times story on Weinstein's allegedly predatory behavior.

Waxman claimed Damon and Crowe called her to defend Miramax executive Fabrizio Lombardo, whom Waxman's story accused of procuring women for Weinstein: "According to multiple accounts, [Lombardo] had no film experience and his real job was to take care of Weinstein’s women needs, among other things," said Waxman.

In the interview, Damon told Deadline reporter Mike Fleming Jr. that he remembered making only a "one minute phone call" to Waxman to vouch for his own "perfectly professional experiences" with Lombardo and said that he did not know the full scope of Waxman's article about Weinstein's alleged misconduct. Damon said that Weinstein had characterized Waxman's story to him as "being a negative piece, a hit job on Fabrizio, was what Harvey was saying. Basically, that he had no professional experience."

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"Harvey said, you worked with him," Damon said. "Can you tell her that he was a professional and you had a good experience, and that was it. I didn’t mind doing it, because that was all true."

He explained the circumstances as such:

My recollection was that it was about a one minute phone call. Harvey had called me and said, they’re writing a story about Fabrizio, who I knew from The Talented Mr. Ripley. He has organized our premiere in Italy and so I knew him in a professional capacity and I’d had dinner at his house. Harvey said, Sharon Waxman is writing a story about Fabrizio and it’s really negative. Can you just call and tell her what your experience with Fabrizio was. So I did, and that’s what I said to her. It didn’t even make the piece that she wrote. As I recall, her piece just said that Russell and I had called and relayed our experience with Fabrizio. That was the extent of it and so I was very surprised to see it come back. I was never conscripted to do anything. We vouch for each other, all the time, and it didn’t even make her article. Whether it didn’t jibe with her storyline…it was an incomplete rendering of someone that I was giving but I had perfectly professional experiences with Fabrizio and I didn’t mind telling her that.

"For the record, I would never, ever, ever try to kill a story like that," Damon said.

Damon, who has collaborated with Weinstein on numerous projects, including his breakout 1997 Miramax film Good Will Hunting, also condemned Weinstein's alleged misbehavior in the interview, promising to be more vigilant about sexual misconduct in the future.

"If there was ever an event that I was at and Harvey was doing this kind of thing and I didn’t see it, then I am so deeply sorry, because I would have stopped it," Damon said. "And I will peel my eyes back now, father [sic] than I ever have, to look for this type of behavior."

Damon, who the Deadline article took care to note is the father of four daughters, also acknowledged that he had faced criticism for failing to speak out against Weinstein earlier— most notably from actress Rose McGowan, who called Damon a "spineless profiteer" in a Monday tweet.

McGowan also called out Damon's frequent collaborator Ben Affleck, who issued a statement via Twitter on Tuesday.

Update [Tuesday, 4:30 m.m.]: Actress Jessica Chastain took to Twitter on Tuesday to defend Damon, saying she believes he was "manipulated."

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