Matt Damon knows we all make mistakes — and he’s reflecting on one of his biggest in recent years!
Back in late 2017, the Good Will Hunting star and Harvey Weinstein collaborator sparked major backlash after sharing his “tone-deaf” thoughts on the #MeToo movement and sexual harassment in Hollywood. In an interview with ABC News’ Popcorn With Peter Travers, the 50-year-old said:
“There’s a difference between… patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right. We’re so energized to kind of get retribution, I think… criminal behavior, and it needs to be dealt with that way. The other stuff is just kind of shameful and gross. I just think that we have to kind of start delineating between what these behaviors are.”
As you likely know, the comments didn’t sit well with social media — especially since they came just as the Time’s Up movement was picking up steam — and Damon decided to leave the public eye before issuing an apology a few months later.
Now, he’s getting candid about the controversy like never before. While speaking with GQ for their October 2021 cover story, the actor described the response at the time as “painful” because he “was being represented as something that I didn’t feel in my heart.”
“I mean, we all come into the world and we’re a f**king hot mess, do you know what I mean? And we make mistakes. And even in doing our best we make terrible mistakes.”
For Damon, however, being called out for this mistake wasn’t easy. He continued:
“It’s hard to take punches for things…the person that they were saying, ‘He’s tone-deaf, and he’s…’ you know, I don’t like that guy either. So it’s hard to hear those things about yourself.”
Fortunately for the actor, a friend advised him to resist the urge to issue a knee-jerk response and defend himself. He explained:
“She said, ‘Don’t respond. You’d be inclined to say, ‘But I’m a good person.…’ Don’t do that. Just be quiet for at least a month and just listen. Listen to the objections to what you said. Try to understand why you upset people.’ And that’s what I did. My friend’s advice was great in the sense of not getting in a defensive crouch — because that was my inclination, and you can’t hear anything in a defensive crouch — and as painful as it is, the only way forward is to really try to understand what you’ve done and really reflect on it.”
Like most celeb-involved controversies, the response to Damon’s comments took shape in the form of Twitter mania and critical think pieces. The New England native confessed that he thought the Twiticism was “nonsense,” sharing:
“95 percent of the stuff was entirely unhelpful, it was just Twitter-bashing stuff, which did put me in a defensive crouch, because you just go, ‘That’s nonsense.’”
But the articles did help him have a lightbulb moment. He added:
“There were articles written about things that I said, about centering a man in a sexual assault situation. And I go, ‘Wow, I did do that. I thought of it entirely from his perspective.’ Like, that’s where my head went. And, ‘I didn’t think about these women’… Because I’m trying to relate to the situation, and I relate to the person who has more in common with me. But in so doing, I’m doing damage not only to the people in that scenario but to anybody who’s ever been in that scenario and who feels like, ‘Oh, here I go again, getting overlooked.’”
Damon said that, overall, the controversy changed him for the better, noting:
“It changed the way that I look at some of these things. It makes me hopefully more aware.”
(Not aware enough to share that weirdly candid f-slur story days after he met with the GQ journalist who gave this interview — which Damon “declined” to comment on — but, hey, baby steps!) Elsewhere in the interview, the Jason Bourne star brought up the #MeToo comment controversy again when asked if he ever felt like he was “misunderstood.” He shared:
“I felt like I was being represented as something that I didn’t feel in my heart. And the media, it’s so powerful — like, that fire hose of attention is overwhelming, no matter what. Even when it’s good, it’s really overwhelming. Some people love it, and you can see that they’re looking for it and they need it, constantly trying to get more of it. I’m not passing any judgment on that, I’m just not that way. Some people love a bright light on them. I’ve never been that person. I always really wanted to work. I really wanted to work. But not the other part.”
Whether Matt likes it or not, being in the public eye comes with the job of a movie star — so we hope he continues to think before he speaks when discussing sensitive issues!
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