Oscar-winner Matt Damon has alienated friends with remarks over the sexual misconduct firestorm blazing through Hollywood. An online petition demanding the dumping of his cameo in 2018 heist movie Ocean's 8 has nearly reached its goal of 17,000 signatures - signed by more than 16,620 supporters by late afternoon on Thursday. Critics say his inclusion would be particularly galling given its status as an all-female reboot of the popular franchise, starring Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Rihanna.
The petition calls on Ocean’s 8 producers, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh "to toss Damon's cameo where it belongs - on the cutting room floor."
It alleges that he "enabled" Harvey Weinstein's conduct by trying to squash a New York Times report in 2004 that detailed instances where the now fallen Hollywood mogul exploited his status as a studio executive to harass and assault women. Damon denied trying to bury the story and claimed that he had no idea of the allegations against Weinstein, who helped catapult him into an international household name.
The actor also came under fire last week for telling ABC News that there was a "spectrum of behavior" and a "difference between touching someone inappropriately and rape or child molestation.” He further stated, “Both of these behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated.”
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When Damon’s Good Will Hunting co-star, Minnie Driver heard about these comments, she took to Twitter stating, “It’s so interesting how men with all these opinions about women’s differentiation between sexual misconduct, assault and rape reveal themselves to be utterly tone deaf. As a result, being systematically part of the problem.”
In an interview with The Guardian, the Ella Enchanted actor explained that she felt the need to say something about it as men “cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level.” She also added that a man – or anyone else for that matter – cannot speak on behalf of any woman’s abuse. “It’s so individual and personal. It’s galling when a powerful man steps up and starts dictating the terms, whether he intends to or not,” clarified the Ripple Effect star.
Damon’s long-time friend Ben Affleck, with whom he shared an Oscar for best screenplay for Good Will Hunting, and Affleck's actor-brother Casey, have also been accused publicly in recent months of sexual misconduct.
"This behavior is beyond enabling; it's just gross. Damon should not be in this movie. His inclusion would trivialise the serious nature of the charges against sexual abusers like Weinstein and show massive disrespect to women speaking out," stated the petition.
47-year-old, Harvard-educated Damon is the father of four daughters, including a child from a previous relationship of his wife.
Ocean's 8 is scheduled to release in June 2018 and revolved around an attempted heist at New York's annual Met Gala, which is one of the hottest tickets in the celebrity universe.
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