Lately, Matt Damon seems to be suffering from foot-in-mouth syndrome. First there was the clip of him sounding pretty pompous as he talked over an African American director, trying to lecture her on diversity in the entertainment industry in ‘Project Greenlight.’ Then he made a comment about gay actors that got him in hot water. ‘The Martian’ star is attempting to set the record straight over that comment.
Here’s what Matt said that got the Internet buzzing yesterday:
When Ben [Affleck] and I first came on the scene [with the success of ‘Goodwill Hunting’] there were rumors that we were gay because it was two guys who wrote a script together. It’s just like any piece of gossip… and it put us in a weird position of having to answer, you know what I mean? Which was then really deeply offensive. I don’t want to, like [imply] it’s some sort of disease – then it’s like I’m throwing my friends under the bus. But at the time, I remember thinking and saying, Rupert Everett was openly gay and this guy – more handsome than anybody, a classically trained actor – it’s tough to make the argument that he didn’t take a hit for being out.”
Okay, nothing wrong with that observation, right?
Then Matt added this:
I think it must be really hard for actors to be out publicly. But in terms of actors, I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you, period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play.”
Of course, that’s easy to say when you’re heterosexual and can dish about your wife and kids in interviews (as Matt has been known to do). The apparent double-standard- and some might even say hypocrisy- seemed to be what set the Internet off.
I actually think Matt has a point: the less you know about an actor’s personal life, the more you can “believe” that they’re playing any character they inhabit on the screen. Although Matt does seem to strive to keep a much lower profile than his buddy Ben Affleck, the truth of the matter is that he’s discussed his family life plenty in interviews. Matt attempted to clarify his statements when he appeared on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’:
I was talking about how actors are more effective when you know less about their personal lives, and was talking about it in the context of when Ben Affleck and I first started and people wrote all these articles—when Good Will Hunting came out—that we were gay because it was two guys who wrote the script. And feeling like oh, well we can’t even…then you have to address it and then it’s like well I’m not gonna throw my friends under the bus, who are gay, and act like it’s some kind of a disease.
“How do you even address it? So you’re always in these kind of weird things. But in this day and age, I said this thing to The Guardian and it got turned into…I was just trying to say actors are more effective when they’re a mystery. Right?
“And somebody picked it up and said I said ‘gay actors should get back in the closet.’ Which is like, I mean it’s stupid, but it is painful when things get said that you don’t believe. You know what I mean? And then it gets represented that that’s what you believe. Because in the blogosphere there’s no real penalty for just taking the ball and running with it. Ya know what I mean? You’re just trying to click on your thing.”
I see what Matt’s saying. Often molehills do grow into mountains on the Internet! Yet I’m also surprised by these blunders. Matt’s a Hollywood veteran at this point: it’s not his first time at the rodeo. Why all these missteps from a guy who’s normally great at managing interviews? Well, it gets us talking about him, and he is promoting a new movie (‘The Martian’), although all the reviews are so great, it doesn’t need extra publicity. It’s got us talking about Matt, though, without him even having to discuss his family ;).
Photos by FAMEFLYNET