George Clooney on Slew of Sexual Harassment Stories: "This Is a Watershed Moment for Society"
"I really do believe there is going to be major change," adds his 'Surburbicon' star Matt Damon at the film's Los Angeles premiere.
Since the New York Times published an explosive exposé on the disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein on Oct. 5, more and more victims of sexual harassment have been encouraged to speak out.
Stars Jessica Chastain, Brie Larson, Patricia Arquette, Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen also have all spoken out in one way or another. Whether it's the use of social media including Alyssa Milano's #MeToo campaign, an interview setting or a premiere event to promote their latest project, staying silent has not been an option.
On Sunday, at the premiere of his latest directorial foray, Suburbicon, George Clooney once again added his voice to the debate that is roiling Hollywood.
"What we hope is this is a watershed moment for society where women feel safe enough to talk about this issue, feel believed and where men who are committing these crimes [and] violations don't feel safe and feel as if they do these things they're going to be outed, sued and may even get litigated and go to jail for it," Clooney tells reporters about the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations made public against Weinstein and others, including former Amazon chief Roy Price and director James Toback.
Adding, "If we can get to that point then we actually succeeded. This thing won't end up just being Harvey Weinstein jokes in three months."
Clooney also spoke out against Woody Allen, who told the BBC that since the allegations against Weinstein have been made public Hollywood has created a "witch hunt atmosphere." "That's a stupid thing to say," says Clooney.
Adding, "The reality is it's not a witch hunt to these women who were trapped in a hotel room and told they were going to get a part and then suddenly here comes Harvey Weinstein in his birthday suit. That's an assault. It's not just Hollywood it's all of society and we're going to have to come to terms with it because we haven't yet."
Clooney continues saying, "It's infuriating and it's also infuriating when I read stories about reporters who did investigations and didn't print it for 10 years. Then you go, 'Why didn't you print that story? I would have liked to [have] seen it. And I would like to know who brought actresses up to Harvey Weinstein's room and then left. I'd like to know that.'"
His longtime friend and star of the film, Matt Damon, remains optimistic about how these stories can bring change. Says the actor, "I really do believe there is going to be major change. There won't be this type of behavior anymore."
Damon hopes victims of these crimes speak out worldwide and not just in Hollywood.
Adding, "To me, the message is that if somebody as powerful as Harvey can be brought down by this what we need is for it to filter all the way down to somebody who is a single mom and a waitress who is getting harassed while she's punching out [of work] and she's afraid to speak up because she's going to lose her job and she needs her job. What we need is for her to be able to say, 'I'm allowed to speak up because this is wrong.' That's hopefully where this is going."
Damon also pointed out the power of social media being used as a tool for victims to come forward against their abusers. Says Damon, "Social media has been great in the sense that these really brave women who stepped up first and who took that chance and made their voices heard allowed all of these other women to understand they're not alone. It's turning into this avalanche and that's what's needed."
As for what he hopes to do to be a part of the "major change," Damon quips, "I've been in the business for 20 years. I know a lot of great men in this business and men who don't use their power in that way. I like to feel that I've always done that and that women have always felt safe in the environments I've worked in and the men that I've worked with, the George Clooneys and the Steven Soderberghs [where] the workplace is sacred and valued and equal and fair."
Adding, "Everybody's got a new awareness about it now."