The 47-year-old actor had announced he would be reprising his role as Linus Caldwell from the original “Ocean’s Eleven” in the all-female reboot back in February, but his familiar mug was conspicuously absent when “Ocean’s 8” opened last week.
Director Gary Ross said his omission was all about the story.
“(Picking the cameos) is an eclectic process of: How does it fit in the story and how is the narrative unfolding?” Ross told The Hollywood Reporter. “This more than any movie I’ve done had a really copious editorial process where you play with stuff, you find stuff. I’ve never shot anything after I’ve wrapped on any other movie before, but in a heist movie and an ensemble movie, you’re still working on the play. And we did a bunch of that, and so that was satisfying as well.”
While Carl Reiner’s return to cantankerous Saul Bloom was also left on the cutting room floor, Damon’s stands out amid a protest over his brush-off of the #MeToo movement.
A petition that had garnered more than 28,000 signatures as of Monday called for Damon to be removed from the “empowering film for women.”
“That was before allegations that Matt Damon — who has a well-publicized cameo in ‘Ocean’s 8’ — not only ignored but enabled his friend Harvey Weinstein’s inappropriate behavior by trying to squash a New York Times report in 2004 that detailed instances where Weinstein had used his position as a high-powered studio executive to harass and even assault women,” the petition reads.
“Damon’s inclusion would trivialize the serious nature of the charges against sexual abusers like Weinstein — a show massive disrespect for the brave women speaking out. It would also send a terrible message about the inevitability of — and lack of accountability for — sexual harassment in the workplace that four in ten American women experience.”
The actor faced criticism in December after saying “there’s a spectrum of behavior” related to sexual misconduct, pointing out to ABC “Popcorn” host Peter Travers “there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation.”
Damon also drew questions about his longtime ties to Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than 100 women spanning decades. He denied that he had any idea of his collaborator’s misconduct, but then later admitted that Ben Affleck, who launched his career along with Damon under Weinstein’s watchful eye, had told him that ex-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow claimed the movie mogul had propositioned her in his hotel room when she was 22.
Warner Brothers never acknowledged the petition or the controversy, but the critics got their wish anyway, even if not for the right reason.
“There were a lot of people who were gracious to us that just for editorial and storytelling reasons didn’t make it in and some who did,” Ross told the Hollywood Reporter. “If you know, we ended up shooting probably another 10 days afterwards, so there’s a lot of material and a lot of shaping. But it really just comes to storytelling.”
“Ocean’s 8,” starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, Awkwafina and Rihanna, pulled in $41.5 at the domestic box office in its debut weekend, outpacing all three previous “Ocean’s” movies.
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