Hollywood actor Matt Damon has been slammed online after revealing in an interview that he only recently stopped using homophobic language, and only then after a “beautiful treatise” written by his daughter.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Damon, 50, said that he chose to “retire” the “f-slur” after his daughter “went to her room and wrote a very long, beautiful treatise on how that word is dangerous.”
Here is everything you need to know about it.
What did Matt Damon say?
Recounting the tale of a family disagreement, Damon revealed that his daughter had left the dinner table after he used the word in “a joke”.
"I said, 'Come on, that's a joke! I say it in the movie Stuck on You!'” the actor remembered saying.
The Academy Award winning actor said the word was “commonly” used when he was younger, but “with a different application”, and he stopped using it “months ago”.
Damon went on to say how the content of interviews with celebrities and famous actors is more closely scrutinised in the modern world than it was 20 years ago.
"The best way I can put it is that the journalist listened to the music more than the lyrics [of an interview],” he said. “Now your lyrics are getting parsed, to pull them out of context and get the best headline possible
“Everyone needs clicks. Before it didn’t really matter what I said, because it didn’t make the news. But maybe this shift is a good thing. So I shut the f*** up more.”
How have people reacted?
Fellow actors weighed in on the comments, with The Lion King star Billy Eichner not convinced the word and its connotations may be gone from Damon’s lexicon completely.
"I want to know what word Matt Damon has replaced [the word] with," Eichner tweeted.
Hollywood Reporter TV critic Daniel Fienberg said: "As a member of the press, I like when celebrities talk to the press, but it's always illuminating to hear the stories that folks like Liam Neeson or Matt Damon think are humanising and charming, but actually reveal insulation and isolation (among other unsavoury stuff) instead."
Fienberg was referring to a 2019 interview with the Taken star, in which Neeson said he was compelled by a “primal” and “medieval” desire for revenge when he had violent thoughts about killing a black person after someone close to him was raped.
‘The things that connect us are so much greater’
Damon’s comments came as he was promoting his new film Stillwater, a role which he said taught him humans are connected, despite politicians “stoking the divides” in their own self-interest.
The film is loosely based on the story of Amanda Knox, and Damon plays an Oklahoma oil rig worker who flies to France after his estranged daughter is arrested and falsely accused of murdering her girlfriend while studying in Marseille.
Speaking to the Big Issue, Damon recalled how he developed “tremendous empathy” for his character, Bill Baker.
He said: “I always walked away from those research trips going, ‘God, the things that connect us are so much greater than the things that divide us’.”
“The politicians will always stoke the divides because it’s in their self-interest. But when we can just get together? As an actor, I couldn’t do my job if I didn’t believe that. We’re all connected and your experience dictates the type of person you are. The big things are all the same.”
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