Matt Damon has defended himself after it was revealed he called a reporter to vouch for a film boss she was about to expose as one of the men who supplied Harvey Weinstein with beautiful Italians.
Sharon Waxman was researching an expose on the movie mogul for the New York Times back in 2004, which led her to Fabrizio Lombardo – the head of Miramax’s Italian office – and allegations he procured women for Weinstein, who is currently at the center of a sex scandal following the publication of two disturbing new articles.
In a new piece for The Wrap, Waxman claims her article was drastically altered by her editors after she received calls from Weinstein collaborators Damon and Russell Crowe.
The Times‘ executive editor Dean Baquet has addressed the writer’s allegations, insisting her story was neutered by Waxman’s “direct editor” Jonathan Landman, because he didn’t think she had the story “nailed”.
Damon has since been singled out in tweets from the likes of Jessica Chastain and Rose McGowan, who called him “spineless”, for allegedly trying to kill Waxman’s negative article, but the actor insists he only had the briefest call with the reporter after the movie boss asked him to tell her of his experiences with Lombardo.
Damon tells Deadline.com, “Harvey had called me and said, they’re writing a story about Fabrizio, who I knew from The Talented Mr. Ripley. He had 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 story line… I had perfectly professional experiences with Fabrizio and I didn’t mind telling her that… My experience with him was all above board and that’s what I told her.”
Damon goes on to maintain he thought he was just vouching for Lombardo as a professional:
“Harvey said, ‘You worked with him, 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.”
The movie star also tells Deadline Waxman apologized to him after the article was published, adding,
“She claimed she was in her car with her kids when I talked to her. It was a 30 second conversation.”
“For the record, I would never, ever, ever try to kill a story like that. I just wouldn’t do that. It’s not something I would do, for anybody.”
Damon did address the new Weinstein scandal, stating,
“Even before I was famous, I didn’t abide this kind of behavior… This is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night. This is the great fear for all of us… We know this stuff goes on in the world.”
The actor, who filmed multiple movies for producer Weinstein, insists he never saw the mogul behaving badly.
“I think a lot of actors have come out and said, everybody’s saying we all knew – that’s not true. This type of predation happens behind closed doors, and out of public view. 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.
“I will peel my eyes back now, farther than I ever have, to look for this type of behavior… I feel horrible for these women and it’s wonderful they have this incredible courage and are standing up now.”