It didn’t stay clean for long, but the snowy white carpet lining the street outside of the Regency Village Theater in Westwood, Calif., for Paramount’s special screening of “Downsizing” added a festive touch. And while the film’s star Matt Damon was not in attendance (the Oscar winner’s father is battling cancer, so “he went back East to be with his family,” according to co-star Niecy Nash), everyone seemed to be talking about his recent controversial comments regarding sexual misconduct in Hollywood.
Most recently, Damon bemoaned to Business Insider, “One thing that’s not being talked about is there are a whole s—load 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.”
James Van Der Beek, who plays a former classmate of Damon’s character in “Downsizing” commented, “I just hope what that is a sign of is that we’re in the middle of an actual seismic shift in terms of what’s acceptable and what’s tolerated, and there are going to be some growing pains in that.”
Nash added, “I think in terms of people coming forward, we’re just at the tipping point. So we still have a ways to go.”
In light of the #MeToo movement, a scene in which Damon’s lonely character plants a kiss on an amputee (Hong Chau) while she is resting with her eyes closed — and then apologizes for his behavior after the fact — might not have the air of romance that was intended by director Alexander Payne. The helmer also co-wrote the screenplay with Jim Taylor.
“It’s wacky, it’s comic, it’s visual, and it allowed Jim and me to do some social satire, perhaps, if you want to call it that,” Payne told Variety. Does the art house veteran believe that news headlines may be the end of an era for harassment in Hollywood? “Sure seems like it,” he said.
Kristen Wiig, who plays Damon character’s wife, was similarly hopeful. “A light has been shone on the fact that it’s still here and we’re talking about it,” she said. “So many women and men have been brave enough to come forward — and people who have done really bad things are getting caught and being punished, and I think that’s a good thing. And I really think change is happening.”
Even Christoph Waltz was eager to share his thoughts on the issue. Sort of. “Can one have thoughts on sexual harassment?” asked the two-time Oscar winner, waxing philosophical. “There is just one thought to be had: That it’s wrong. And that it needs to be dealt with in our society, so that’s all there is to it. It’s not even that interesting. It is a discussion, of course — how to deal with it, and what to do, and how to bring about change that is overdue for a few thousand years, yes, absolutely — but other than that, you know, we have to watch that this is led as a very constructive deliberation and not just a press sensation.”
One related topic that has received a lot of attention is the plan for actresses to don black at the Golden Globes as a silent protest against harassment in Hollywood.
“Well, I’m never good at silence, so I’ll never make a protest that’s silent,” Laura Dern told Variety. “But I love the color black, and I am happy to stand with all women — and men — who are prepared to continue a new model. And that model is: We are no longer, any of us, going to accept abuse of power in any business, in any industry, in government, anywhere, for the sake of our next generation.”
In response to her own Golden Globes attire, Wiig added: “I think it’s great that people are making a statement, and I don’t know if I’m going… but I’ll wear black at home,” she joked.