How the Harvey Weinstein scandal has become a nightmare for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon

Taryn Ryder
Writer, Yahoo Celebrity

As Harvey Weinstein continues his fall from grace, he’s dragging some big-name celebrities through the mud with him.

The Oscar-winning producer has been accused of sexual abuse and harassment across a period of decades, with stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie coming forward and telling their stories. Weinstein’s alleged behavior has prompted statements from George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon, among others, but many in Hollywood are feigning ignorance. And Affleck and Damon in particular have people really riled up.

Ben Affleck, Harvey Weinstein, and Matt Damon in New York City in October 2016. (Photo: Mireya Acierto/WireImage)

“I am saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades,” Affleck exclaimed via Twitter on Tuesday. “The additional allegations of assault that I read this morning made me sick. This is completely unacceptable, and I find myself asking what I can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to others… we must support those who come forward, condemn this type of behavior when we see it and help ensure there are more women in positions of power.”

One of those women who came forward is having none of Affleck’s statement. On Tuesday, actress Rose McGowan simply tweeted, “Ben Affleck f**k off.”

McGowan then tweeted directly to Affleck, alleging he knew of Weinstein’s behavior years ago.

Folks on Twitter quickly chimed in with their thoughts.

“Ben Affleck should’ve just kept quiet. Clearly he wasn’t thinking about his daughters when he left them to gallivant with their nanny,” someone tweeted shortly after.

“He also grabbed Hilarie Burton’s breasts on TRL once. Everyone forgot though,” another user replied.

Burton herself saw the exchange and jumped in, writing, “I didn’t forget.”

Mic. Drop.

Hilarie Burton, Ben Affleck, and Rose McGowan. (Photos: Getty Images)

The incident was in 2003. Burton, who was 21 at the time, was interviewing the Gigli star when he went in for a hug but allegedly squeezed her left boob.

“I’m so sorry that happened to you. It’s infuriating that people never bring up all the gross, predatory things he’s done,” one fan tweeted back at Burton.

Burton replied, “Seriously, thank you for that. I was a kid.” The One Tree Hill alum, who is expecting her second child with husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan, followed that up by sharing a video from TRL Uncensored where she talks about the incident.

“And he wraps his arm around me and he comes over and tweaks my left boob!” she exclaims in the clip. “I’m just like, ‘What are you doing?’ Some girls like a good tweakage here and there, um, I’d rather have a high-five.”

It appears that Burton laughs off the incident when she’s talking about it at the time, but on Tuesday she said, “I had to laugh back then so I wouldn’t cry.”

Affleck apologized for the incident after it resurfaced on Wednesday.

However, that’s not the only vintage footage of the actor making the rounds today. Shortly after the Burton clip made headlines, another old video of Affleck acting inappropriately has surfaced. TMZ posted an old interview from 2004, where he had a Canadian TV host sit on his lap as he exclaimed, “They would like the show better if you did it topless, wouldn’t they?” He has yet to comment on this incident.

Still, it’s not just Affleck who has a guest-starring role in the Weinstein scandal. Matt Damon was called out by The Wrap editor in chief Sharon Waxman over how long he’s known of the producer’s alleged crimes. Affleck and Damon grew close to Weinstein after working together on Good Will Hunting, which they both won Oscars for writing in 1998.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck at the 1998 Oscars. (Photo: Evan Agostini/ImageDirect)

Waxman alleges that in 2004, Damon helped kill a story she was working on that addressed the producer’s alleged sexual misconduct. Waxman, ironically, was writing for The New York Times, which first reported on Weinstein’s behavior last week. Her story involved Weinstein and the head of Miramax Italy at the time, Fabrizio Lombardo. Waxman claims calls from Damon and Russell Crowe helped kill her initial story; Damon disputes that.

“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,” Damon explains to Deadline . “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.”

Waxman’s story was stripped of any mention of sexual misconduct when it eventually ran. Still, the actor maintains he never knew anything about Weinstein’s alleged behavior.

“Look, even before I was famous, I didn’t abide this kind of behavior. But now, 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,” Damon adds. “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.”

Damon continues, “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. And I will peel my eyes back now, [farther] than I ever have, to look for this type of behavior. Because we know that it happens. I feel horrible for these women and it’s wonderful they have this incredible courage and are standing up now.”

Waxman confirms Damon’s account. However, the actor just wants to be left out of the Weinstein narrative.

“This would have been a difficult past couple of days even if my name hadn’t been dragged into it. I am not the story here,” he stated. “The story is these women and what happened to them. So if I’m experiencing this discomfort, it hardly bears mention. There are some real victims here and they are being incredibly brave. Hopefully, them going through this experience right now will help them heal. They are who we all should be thinking about.”

Unfortunately for Damon, many on Twitter and elsewhere find that the “daughters” excuse is wearing thin.

Neither Affleck nor Damon have commented further on the Weinstein scandal.

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