Matt Damon has reportedly denied using the homophobic “F-slur” in his personal life and says he stands with the LGBTQ+ community following a backlash to comments he made in a recent interview.
The Hollywood actor, who is currently starring in the film Stillwater, has faced criticism after saying the word was “commonly used” when he was younger and that when he repeated a “joke” made in his 2003 film Stuck On You in front of his daughter, she wrote about “how that word is dangerous”.
After coming under fire on social media, Damon released a statement clarifying his comments to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety in the US, saying he does not use “slurs of any kind” and the conversation he was referring to “was not a personal awakening” but rather a discussion about how times have changed.
“During a recent interview, I recalled a discussion I had with my daughter where I attempted to contextualise 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,” he said.
“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.”
Damon said that to his “admiration and pride”, his daughter was “extremely articulate about the extent to which that word would have been painful to someone in the LGBTQ+ community regardless of how culturally normalised it was”.
The star said he “not only agreed with her but [was] thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice”.
He continued: “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.
“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.”
Among those criticising the 50-year-old for still using the term up until a few months ago was actor and comedian Billy Eichner, who wrote: “I want to know what word Matt Damon has replaced f***** with.”
Travon Free, another US comedian, added: “So Matt Damon just figured out ‘months ago’, by way of a “treatise” from a child, that he’s not supposed to say the word f*****. Months ago. Months ago.”
Damon’s new film Stillwater sees the star playing a father who flies to France to help his estranged daughter, who has been convicted and imprisoned for murdering her girlfriend in a case that has generated lurid headlines – a story inspired by the conviction of Amanda Knox for the murder of Meredith Kercher in Italy.
Knox has claimed the film sensationalises her life and rips off her story “without her consent” and “at the expense of her reputation”.