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Matt Damon denies report he tried to stop earlier Weinstein story

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck at a movie premiere in Los Angeles last January.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck at a movie premiere in Los Angeles last January.Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/file

Matt Damon says he did not try to stop Sharon Waxman from writing a story about Harvey Weinstein in 2004.

The actor spoke to Deadline about a story published by Waxman on the website The Wrap over the weekend. Waxman’s article said that when she was still working for The New York Times, she traveled to Europe to investigate Fabrizio Lombardo, the head of Miramax Italy.

“According to multiple accounts,” she wrote, of Lombardo, “he had no film experience and his real job was to take care of Weinstein’s women needs, among other things.”

Waxman said that Damon and Russell Crowe called her to vouch for Lombardo, and that pressure from the actors and the Weinstein Company influenced the Times not to publish the story.

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The Globe e-mailed Damon’s publicist, Jennifer Allen, twice, about Waxman’s report but received no response. On Tuesday afternoon, Deadline published an interview with Damon, in which he says, of his interaction with Waxman, “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.”

Damon also said, of Weinstein — who was fired over the weekend by the studio he cofounded, after the Times published a story about his history of sexual harassment and abuse — “I did five or six movies with Harvey. I never saw this. 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.”

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Waxman tweeted on Tuesday that she could confirm Damon’s account of their call.

“I endorse Matt Damon’s statement. He called me briefly, wasn’t informed — nor shld he have been — abt investigative aspect of piece.”

Hours before the Deadline story, Ben Affleck released a statement about Weinstein, who worked with both Affleck and Damon on “Good Will Hunting.”

Affleck said, on social media:

Affleck’s note about “this morning” may have referred to a New Yorker story by Ronan Farrow published Tuesday morning that details allegations of rape against Weinstein.

Waxman’s report involving Damon inspired many in the industry to comment about how the actor might have enabled the former studio exec.

Culinary personality Anthony Bourdain tweeted to his more than 6 million followers Tuesday morning: “Looking forward to ‘THE BOURNE APOLOGY’ in which Jason fights off attempts to expose a pimp.”

Actress Rose McGowan, who has long spoken out about the climate for women in Hollywood and beyond, tweeted Monday — as news of Damon’s possible involvement was breaking:

She also tweeted in reply to Affleck’s statement: “‘I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT’ you said that to my face. The press conf I was made to go to after assault. You lie.”

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Casey Affleck settled out of court after being sued for sexual harassment in 2010 by two women who’d worked with him on the film “I’m Still Here.” Damon has long worked with Casey Affleck, and was a producer on the local film “Manchester by the Sea,” for which Affleck earned the best actor Oscar this year.

Casey Affleck told the Globe after his win, of his case, “I believe that any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and anywhere else.” He also said that he was prohibited from talking about the lawsuit.

As of Tuesday, Meryl Streep, Lena Dunham, and Jennifer Lawrence were among the actresses who had spoken out about Weinstein. Dunham wrote an opinion piece about it in the Times that her producing partner on “Girls” Jenni Konner called, via Twitter, “A call to arms (but also a call to Matt Damon?)”

Actress Mindy Kaling had this to tweet about the news: