The blogosphere got a bit angry with Matt Damon earlier this week due to comments made in a Guardian interview, “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.”
Some people took that to mean he was saying actors should stay in the closet. There were also accusations of him talking from a position of priviledge, where it was fine to say no one should know about an actor’s sexuality, when he has talked about his own wife and kids (which he doesn’t do a lot, but has mentioned in interviews on more than one ocassion).
Now he’s stepped up to clarify his comments, telling Ellen, “Yeah it was just in an interview with The Guardian that I literally just found out too, but it was that I was talking about actors are more effective when you know less about their personal lives. And was talking about it in the context of when Ben 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’ like 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.
“Ya know, 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 and 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. So.”
While he’s right that he never really said actors should get back in the closet, he’s not right to suggest his comments were completely taken out of context, as there’s still a (probably unconscious) disconnect from the freedom straight actors have to talk about their partners, and the difficulties and pressures for gay actors to do the same. Perhaps Damon doesn’t even realise that because straight-ness is treated as the absolutel defaut, talking about his wife is talking about his sexuality, at least if we accept someone talking about a same-sex partner is talking about their sexuality, which his comments seem to assume they would be.
I don’t doubt that when Ellen told him, ‘I know you and I know you’re not that guy’, that Matt is very LGBT-friendly, however perhaps rather than defending what he said and suggested he was misquoted, he’d have been better to say it was a half-evolved thought that he really needs to think about a little more.
You can take a look at the clip from Ellen below: