In Brief

Sir Ian McKellen and Matt Damon in hot water over harrassment comments

In separate interviews actors ‘appear to compete for the dumbest thing said about sexual harassment’

Ian McKellan and Matt Damon have both received criticism for separate interviews in which they discussed the sexual harassment scandal that has engulfed Hollywood.

In an interview with Business Insider, Matt Damon brought up the importance of remembering those around him who haven’t acted improperly.

“We’re in this watershed moment, and it’s great, but I think one thing that’s not being talked about is there are a whole shitload of guys – the preponderance of men I’ve worked with – who don’t do this kind of thing and whose lives aren’t going to be affected,” Damon told the website.

The star was also asked whether he would still work with someone who was a known predator.

“That always went into my thinking,” he said. “I mean, I wouldn’t want to work with somebody who – life’s too short for that. But the question of if somebody had allegations against them, you know, it would be a case-by-case basis. You go, ‘What’s the story here?’”

During a talk at the Oxford Union, McKellen, while condemning rampant sexual misconduct in the entertainment business, recalled a time when some actresses “proposed that they should be a victim.”

According to HuffPost he applauded victims for coming forward about sexual harassment, saying “it’s sometimes very difficult for victims to do that.” He added that he hoped “we’re going through a period that will help to eradicate it altogether”.

But he then went on to share his own experiences during the early 1960s. “The director of the theatre I was working at showed me some photographs he got from women who were wanting jobs,” he said. “Some of them had at the bottom of their photograph ‘DRR’ - directors’ rights respected. In other words, if you give me a job, you can have sex with me.” He pointed out how that was commonplace and said it was “madness.”

“Although supportive of the victims, he reportedly went on to talk about being cautious about the accusations flooding Hollywood as of late,” says Deadline Hollywood.

“I assume nothing but good will come out of these revelations, even though some people get wrongly accused - there’s that side of it as well,” he said.

Damon and McKellan’s words sparked almost immediate condemnation online.

Many fellow actors, including Damon’s former girlfriend Minnie Driver, took issue with the actor’s seeming insistence that those men who hadn’t harassed anyone should be rewarded in some way.

While others thought McKellan shouldn’t have broached the subject from the angle that he did.

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