Matt Damon has denied helping to “kill” a 2004 New York Times story which made allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
His denial comes as Sharon Waxman wrote in an article for The Wrap that during her stint as a reporter for the New York Times, the paper had spiked her investigation into Weinstein after “coming under pressure” and after receiving calls from Damon and Russell Crowe.
Responding to the claims in an article for Deadline, Damon insisted Weinstein had asked him to call Waxman to vouch for Fabrizio Lombardo, who ran Miramax’s Italian office, the distribution company for Weinstein, and Damon agreed to call the reporter.
In the article, Waxman had alleged Lombardo procured women for Weinstein and that he knew nothing about the film industry.
But Damon said he did not know the story contained allegations of sexual assault or harassment against Weinstein; he said Weinstein only told him that the paper was doing a “hit job” on Lombardo.
“Harvey said, Sharon Waxman is writing a story about Fabrizio and it’s really negative,” said Damon. “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.
I believe that Matt was manipulated. I've spent time with him on The Martian and he's a really good guy. https://t.co/waTdWDJjlw— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) October 10, 2017
“That was the extent of it and so I was very surprised to see it come back. I was never conscripted to do anything.”
Damon added that his experience with Lombardo was “above board”.
His denial follows various celebrities, including Mark Ruffalo, George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow and Meryl Streep, denounce Weinstein’s alleged actions, which were first reported by the New York Times last week, as “disgraceful” and “sickening”.
Jessica Chastain, with whom Damon had worked on The Martian, tweeted alongside the story about him: “This is heart shattering.”
After the Times reported that Weinstein had allegedly reached financial settlements with at least eight women after they accused him of harassment and assault, he and several of his company’s executives and board members have resigned.
The Times’ former editors in 2004, Bill Keller and Jill Abramson, said they did not remember being pressured over Waxman’s story, according to the current Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet.