Don’t expect to hear Matt Damon weighing in on Hollywood’s sexual harassment reckoning any time soon.
Just weeks after the “Downsizing” actor found himself in hot water over his comments about what’s come to be known as the #MeToo movement, Damon says he’s going to recuse himself from the conversation for a while.
“A lot of those women are my dear friends and I love them and respect them and support what they’re doing and want to be a part of that change and want to go along for the ride, but I should get in the back seat and close my mouth for a while,” he told Kathie Lee on the “Today” show on Wednesday.
Damon was slammed back in December after he told ABC News’ Peter Travers in an interview that while women feeling empowered to share their stories of sexual harassment and mistreatment is “totally necessary,” he hoped for more attention to be paid to the “spectrum of behavior.”
“There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? he said. “Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?”
His comments about Louis C.K., who was accused of and later admitted to sexual misconduct, particularly drew ire.
“I don’t imagine he’s going to do those things again,” he said of the comedian, who he doesn’t know. “I imagine the price that he’s paid at this point is so beyond anything that he — I just think that we have to kind of start delineating between what these behaviors are.”
In seeing Damon’s comments in a news article, his “Good Will Hunting” co-star Minnie Driver responded on Twitter: “God God, SERIOUSLY?”
In follow-up tweets, she called men who have “all these opinions about women’s differentiation between sexual misconduct, assault and rape” “utterly tone deaf.”
The #MeToo movement, which was started by women’s activist Tarana Burke 12 years ago for survivors of sexual violence, took off in October in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Women were encouraged to share their stories of sexual harassment and assault using the hashtag.
The effort has birthed a Hollywood-led organization called Time’s Up, which aims to fight on behalf of victims of sexual harassment in all industries and advocate for lasting change.
Damon added in his comments to Kathie Lee: “I really wish I’d listened a lot more before I weighed in on this. And…ultimately what it is for me is that I don’t want to further anybody’s pain with anything that I do or say. So, for that, I’m really sorry.”