Matt Damon Clarifies Gay Actor Comments
The Martian actor Matt Damon has clarified “out of context” remarks he made in a recent interview suggesting actors could hurt their career if they “come out” as gay.
In an interview published by The Guardian on Sunday, Damon discussed rumors he and longtime friend Ben Affleck faced when they initially found fame with Good Will Hunting nearly 20 years ago.
Damon said, “When Ben and I first came on the scene 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.”
He added that although the social landscape has changed since then, Damon acknowledged it still is a difficult hurdle to get over for actors who feel like they should “come out of the closet.”
He said, “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.”
Damon found himself at the center of controversy as he was immediately criticized for his remarks, but he was able to clear the air during Monday’s taping of comedienne Ellen DeGeneres chat show.
He said, “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. In the blogosphere there’s no real penalty for just taking the ball and running with it. You know what I mean? You’re just trying to click on your thing.”
It is the second time Damon has made headlines over controversial remarks. Earlier this month, he was scrutinized over racial diversity comments he made on his reality competition series Project Greenlight.
Damon’s interview came during the promotional run for his new film, The Martian, hitting theaters this Friday.