Petition gains traction calling for Matt Damon to be cut from 'Ocean's 8'

Celebrities attend 'Thor: Ragnarok' Film Premiere at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. Featuring: Matt Damon Where: Los Angeles, California, United States When: 10 Oct 2017 Credit: Brian To/

An online petition calling for Matt Damon to be cut from the all-female "Ocean's 8" movie has been launched following his controversial remarks about Hollywood's sexual misconduct scandals.

As of Friday evening, the online petition was nearing its goal of 25,000 signatures.

"The Martian" star has faced heavy criticism since weighing in on the numerous allegations of inappropriate behavior posed against the likes of producer Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K., and director Brett Ratner, with Matt suggesting the levels of punishment for alleged predators should depend on the severity of their supposed actions.

"I think it's wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories and it's totally necessary... [but] I do believe there's a spectrum of behavior...," he told ABC News last week. "There's a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn't be conflated."

His response prompted a huge backlash, with stars including his ex-girlfriend Minnie Driver, Cher, Alyssa Milano, and Debra Messing, publicly slamming his callous comments.

Now film fans have banded together to demand producers George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh axe Matt's guest appearance in the upcoming Ocean's Eleven franchise spin-off as a result of his statements.

The organizer of the petition also cites Damon's call to a New York Times reporter back in 2004 to vouch for an Italian film boss who was about to be exposed for helping Weinstein continue his pattern of alleged assault and harassment as a reason for the online action.

Damon has repeatedly insisted he was only asked to highlight the Italian's professionalism and had no idea about the sexual misconduct aspect of the article, which was subsequently neutered by the writer's editors.

The petition reads in part: "This behavior is beyond enabling - it's just gross. Matt Damon should not be in this movie.

"Damon's inclusion would trivialize the serious nature of the charges against sexual abusers like Weinstein - (and) 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.

"I'm calling on Oceans 8 producers George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh to toss Damon's Oceans 8 cameo where it belongs: on the cutting room floor. Will you join me?"

The Care2 campaign has been a huge hit with supporters since its launch this week, and had already hit its 20,000 target by Friday afternoon, prompting the organizer to increase its goal to 25,000 signatures.

Representatives for Clooney, Soderbergh, and Damon have yet to comment on the petition.

The news emerges days after the first official trailer for the all-star "Ocean's 8" debuted, featuring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, and Rihanna, among many others.

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