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Matt Damon says he knew Harvey Weinstein was a ‘womanizer’

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Matt Damon arrives at the premiere of Paramount Pictures' “Suburbicon” at the Village Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday.

By Globe Staff 

Matt Damon knew Harvey Weinstein was a “womanizer” and an “[expletive]” but said he never thought the disgraced producer engaged in “criminal sexual predation.”

Damon and George Clooney discussed the Weinstein scandal with ABC’s Michael Strahan in an interview that aired Monday morning on “Good Morning America.”

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Damon rose to fame in 1997’s “Good Will Hunting,” the Weinstein-produced film in which he starred with his long-time friend Ben Affleck.

Damon told ABC that Weinstein, who has been accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment and assault, signed Damon up for a three-picture deal. On one of those films, “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” he worked with Gwyneth Paltrow, one of the many actresses who has come forward in recent days to say that Weinstein sexually harassed her. Paltrow, who dated Affleck in the late 1990s, told Affleck about Weinstein’s inappropriate advances.

Affleck, in turn, told Damon.

“I knew the story about Gwyneth from Ben,” Damon told Strahan. “I never talked to Gwyneth about it. Ben told me . . . but I knew that . . . they had come to whatever, you know, agreement or understanding that they had come to, she had handled it.”

Clooney said that Weinstein had told him that he’d had affairs with numerous actresses, but the actor said he never quite believed it.

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“But the idea that this predator, this assaulter . . . was out there silencing women like that . . . it’s beyond infuriating,” Clooney said in the interview, which was promoting the new film “Suburbicon.”

Weinstein has been accused by dozens of women of behavior ranging from sexual harassment to assault to rape. He was fired from the company that bears his name, and his wife, Georgina Chapman, is reportedly divorcing him.

While Weinstein admits to inappropriate behavior over his three-decade career, he denies that any sexual contact was “non-consensual.” Meanwhile, according to gossip site TMZ, the film mogul flew to Arizona for a one-week outpatient program to deal with emotional issues, including “the beginnings of work on empathy,” according to a psychologist who treated Weinstein. The program reportedly ended on Saturday.

After the news of the one-week rehab broke, TMZ reported that Weinstein will stay in Arizona for another month.

Damon has been on the defensive about Weinstein since shortly after The New York Times and The New Yorker published their exposes about the Hollywood mogul. Writing in TheWrap.com, Sharon Waxman, a former reporter for The New York Times, said she’d looked into allegations of sexual misconduct by Weinstein, and his relationship with a man named Fabrizio Lombardo, whose duties seemed to include procuring women for Weinstein.

“After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story was gutted,” Waxman wrote.

Damon has denied that he intervened in order to protect Weinstein.

“As the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night. This is the great fear for all of us,” he told Deadline.com.

While Damon told ABC that “You had to spend about five minutes with [Weinstein] to know that he was a bully. He was intimidating. Miramax was the place, really the place, that was making great stuff in the ’90s. And it was like, ‘Could you survive Harvey?’ ”

Despite hearing the rumors, Damon told Strahan he never saw such behavior from Weinstein in public. “If he did . . . if there was ever an event or something that I was at in public with Harvey, and he was doing this kind of thing . . . I missed it. And if I somehow missed it, then I’m sorry. . . .

“That darkness was his . . . he did that in private.”


Hayley Kaufman can be reached at hkaufman@globe.com.