Matt Damon opened himself to swift and widespread backlash when he decided to freely share with The Sunday Times that he had still been privately using the "f-slur for a homosexual" up until one of his three daughters recently explained to him why he shouldn't.
The predictably negative reaction prompted the 50-year-old Oscar winner to release a statement to Variety late Monday afternoon (Aug. 2):
“During a recent interview, I recalled a discussion I had with my daughter where I attempted to contextualize for her the progress that has been made – though by no means completed – since I was growing up in Boston and, as a child, heard the word ‘f*g’ used on the street before I knew what it even referred to,” Damon said in the statement. “I explained that that word was used constantly and casually and was even a line of dialogue in a movie of mine as recently as 2003; she in turn expressed incredulity that there could ever have been a time where that word was used unthinkingly. To my admiration and pride, she was extremely articulate about the extent to which that word would have been painful to someone in the LGBTQ+ community regardless of how culturally normalized it was. I not only agreed with her but thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice.
“I have never called anyone ‘f****t’ in my personal life and this conversation with my daughter was not a personal awakening. I do not use slurs of any kind,” Damon continued. “I have learned that eradicating prejudice requires active movement toward justice rather than finding passive comfort in imagining myself ‘one of the good guys’. And given that open hostility against the LGBTQ+ community is still not uncommon, I understand why my statement led many to assume the worst. To be as clear as I can be, I stand with the LGBTQ+ community.”
Damon's statement doesn't totally line up with the story he originally shared with The Sunday Times.
"The word that my daughter calls the 'f-slur for a homosexual' was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application," he told writer Jonathan Dean (h/t Entertainment Weekly). "I made a joke, months ago, and got a treatise from my daughter. She left the table. I said, ‘Come on, that’s a joke! I say it in the movie Stuck on You! She went to her room and wrote a very long, beautiful treatise on how that word is dangerous. I said, 'I retire the f-slur!' I understood."
Stuck on You, for anyone curious, was pretty poorly received 2003 comedy starring Damon and Greg Kinnear as conjoined twins Bob Tenor and Walt Tenor, respectively, who move to Los Angeles so Walt can pursue his dream of acting.
Damon currently stars in Stillwater and will star in Ridley Scott's The Last Duel, which he co-wrote with his Good Will Hunting pal Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener.