Matt Damon’s Controversial Comments About Actors Keeping Their Private Lives a Mystery

October 1, 2015


“You’re a better actor the less people know about you.” –Matt Damon

Just on the heels of stirring up controversy about issues of diversity, actor Matt Damon is making headlines again. But this time it’s for comments he made to The Guardian when speaking about actors’ private lives.
When discussing his role as Liberace’s lover in the television drama Behind the Candelabra, Damon said he’d been rumored to be gay when he and his childhood friend, Ben Affleck, were marketing the script Good Will Hunting which they had co-authored. He said, “It’s just like any piece of gossip…and it put us in a weird position of having to answer, you know what I mean? Which was then really deeply offensive. I don’t want to, like [imply] it’s some sort of disease–then it’s like I’m throwing my friends under the bus. But at the time, I remember thinking and saying Rupert Everett was openly gay and 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.”

Damon, who is married since 2005 and is the father of four children, went on to say although he welcomes the introduction of same-sex marriage, “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.”

In response, some people interpreted his remarks to be offensive, and diminishing of openly gay actors. Similarly, Whoopi Goldberg disagreed with Damon’s opinion on the matter. On The View, Goldberg argued, “We’re actors–we’re supposed to be able to play everything and play it convincingly. So I don’t think whether you know or think or believe I’m gay has anything to do with what my abilities are. As an actor, that’s how I feel.” Referencing all of today’s social media, she continued, “You can have your privacy, but you’re outed. People out you, people tell your business whether you tell your business or not. And in terms of you know mystique and all that stuff, you know, you used to be able to make that choice for yourself.”

A couple days later while on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which is due to air on Tuesday, Damon clarified, “I was just trying to say actors are more effective when they’re a mystery. Right?…It’s painful when things get said that you don’t believe….And then it gets represented that that’s what you believe.”

Do you think that Matt Damon has a point about actors benefitting if they maintain an air of mystery about their personal lives? Or do you agree with Whoopi Goldberg, and feel that an actor’s private life should have no bearing on the quality of his or her work?