Matt Damon has been heavily criticized after revealing that he has only recently stopped using a well-known homophobic slur, after being told by his daughter that it was unacceptable.
The Oscar-winning actor made the admission in a Sunday Times interview to promote his new movie Stillwater, claiming the term “was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application”.
He said his daughter had taken him to task after he used the word in a joke at a dinner party. “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,” he said in the interview.
Damon, who in 2017 apologized for saying sexual assault was “a spectrum of behavior” after a similar outcry, immediately came under fire from LGBTQ+ activists.
Travon Free, the bisexual comedian, actor and Oscar-winning director, said in a tweet: “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*ggot. Months ago. Months ago.”
Damon, 50, who won an Academy Award in 1998 for Good Will Hunting, and his wife Luciana have four daughters ranging in age from 23 to 10. It is not clear from the interview which of them wrote him the letter.
“Matt Damon reveals he JUST recently stopped using the word […] as a slur after his daughter forced his hand…like what?” O’Keefe wrote.
Billy Eichner, the actor, comedian and producer, tweeted: “I want to know what word Matt Damon has replaced f****t with.”
The episode was trending on Twitter on Monday morning, with numerous other users mocking or criticizing the actor for his comments.
Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ rights charity in the UK, describes the word as a homophobic slur and among the many “terms of abuse” still commonly used.
It is not the first time that Damon has prompted concerns over his views on homosexuality. In a 2015 interview in the Guardian, he said he thought gay actors were better performers if they kept quiet about their private lives, comments he later claimed were “misconstrued,” during an appearance on the US television show Ellen.
“I was just trying to say actors are more effective when they’re a mystery. Right?” he told the host, Ellen DeGeneres.
“Somebody picked it up and said I said gay actors should get back in the closet. It’s stupid, but it is painful when things get said that you don’t believe. And then it gets represented that that’s what you believe.”
The movie Stillwater was released at the weekend to mixed reviews. Damon plays an American father attempting to secure his daughter’s release from incarceration in France, where she has been convicted of murdering her friend.
The Guardian’s film critic Peter Bradshaw gave it one star out of five, saying that Damon was “woefully miscast” and that the movie was “a muddled, tonally misjudged, badly acted, uncertainly directed and frankly dubious drama, something that falls into the so-bad-it’s-bad…