Matt Damon (Pic: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Oscar nominated star Matt Damon has tried to backtrack on comments he made about gay actors in Hollywood.
The 44-year-old The Martian actor, who’s played gay in films like Behind the Candelabra, stirred up a hornet’s nest in a recent interview with the Observer.
“I think it must be really hard for actors to be out publicly,” he said. “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 used gay British actor Rupert Everett as an example of a star who he believes was negatively affected by coming out. “…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,” argued Damon.
Following criticism that his views are homophobic, Damon appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show to explain himself.
“I was just trying to say actors are more effective when they’re a mystery. Right?” he told DeGeneres. “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.”
Nevertheless, Damon has yet to explain the inconsistencies in his heterocentric theory that actors should be secretive about their private lives in order to be good at their craft. While it seems he expects this of gay actors, he himself is very open about his wife and family in interviews and on the red carpet, effectively telling the world that he is straight on an ongoing basis.
Does he expect gay actors to keep their partners hidden at home and not speak about their relationships to the media while he freely does so (as he did in the very same Observer interview )?
Damon’s reference to Everett also seems to ignore a more recent batch of actors such as Neil Patrick Harris and Zachary Quinto, who are openly gay and have thriving careers in Hollywood.
It seems that while Damon has played gay on screen, he has much to learn about being gay.