Matt Damon recently retired the use of a certain gay slur from his vocabulary, and it’s all thanks to his teenage daughter.
The actor opened up about being dressed down by his daughter in a new interview 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 said before explaining that he’d upset her by using the word in a joke at the dinner table.
“She left the table,” Damon continued, not specifying which of his three daughters protested. “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.”
In the 2003 comedy the actor references, he stars alongside Greg Kinnear as a pair of fraternal twins conjoined at the hip. His character, Bob, uses the shortened form of the f-slur during a musical montage after the twins are successfully separated.
Update – August 2nd: In a new statement, Damon sought to clarify his comments. “I never called anyone ‘f****t’ in my personal life and this conversation with my daughter was not a personal awakening,” Damon said. Read his full statement below.
“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. 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. 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.”
Meanwhile, Damon’s newest film, Stillwater, hit theaters this weekend after premiering at the Cannes Film Festival last month. Next, Damon will reunite with his best buddy Ben Affleck in the upcoming fantasy epic The Last Duel opposite Adam Driver.
He also joined Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, and the rest of the cast of 2011’s Contagion in the early days of the pandemic to record a PSA on the dangers of COVID-19. (Later in the pandemic, the actor spent months isolated in a remote village on the coast of Ireland after a movie he was filming in Europe was forced to shut down production.)