Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Two Cents: Matt Damon Saying Actors [Gay Actors] Should Keep Their Sexuality Private

I like Matt Damon, I do, but lately it seems to me he’s gone off the rails in giving his opinion on something, diversity for example, and then walking it back when people question his thoughts.

It was just recently he was heavily criticized for interrupting black film producer Effie Brown to lecture her on diversity on his and Ben Affleck’s show Project Greenlight. He apologized for offending people, but refused to actually apologize for what he said.
“I am sorry that they offended some people, but, at the very least, I am happy that they started a conversation about diversity in Hollywood. That is an ongoing conversation that we all should be having.”
And now he’s talking gay actors, well, openly gay actors.

In a recent interview to promote his newest film, The Martian, Damon spent some time discussing his role as Liberace’s lover Scott Thorson in Behind The Candelabra, and he was asked whether he thought it was harder to be an openly gay actor in Hollywood.
“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.”
Um, okay, let’s stop for a second and talk Rupert Everett.

Yes, he did come out quite early — way back in 1989 — before it was “the thing” to do, and maybe he did take a hit for that. But the reasons, I think, that his career didn’t flourish as Damon suggests it should have, is because of the angry tone in his interviews after coming out, where he, too, said gay actors should stay closeted, that gay people shouldn’t get married, that gay people shouldn’t have children. And then there’s that whole issue of what he did to his face via plastic surgery. I think looking less like Rupert Everett hurt him in getting work.

I think Everett is the classic case of shooting oneself in the foot. Rather than come out as gay, and be defiantly gay, and an actor, he whined about it, and complained about being gay and LGBT issues and I think that kind of made him less desirable to film producers and less interesting to audiences; it wasn’t being gay, it was his opinions of being gay.

As we well know, there are a lot of openly LGBT actors who have successful careers both before and after coming out.  Ian McKellen — who came out before Rupert Everett back in 1988 and his career flourished. Neil Patrick Harris. Wentworth Miller. Ellen Page. Zachary Quinto. Ben Whishaw. John Barrowman. Chris Colfer. Sean Hayes. Sarah Paulson. Jodie Foster. Jim Parsons. Anna Paquin.  Laverne Cox. Matt Bomer. Ezra Miller. Jussie Smollett. Cheyenne Jackson. Cherry Jones. Maulik Pancholy. Jane Lynch. Alan Cumming. Matt Dallas. Sean Maher. John Glover. Maria Bello. David Hyde Pierce. George Takei. Sandra Bernhard. Jonathan Groff. Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Cynthia Nixon, Wanda Sykes. Nathan Lane. Alec Mapa. Sara Gilbert. T.R. Knight. Guillermo Díaz. Russell Tovey. Andrew Rannells. Rosie O’Donnell. Victor Garber. Portia DeRossi.

That’s just some actors and actresses who’ve come out as gay and yet still continue to work in their chosen fields; and this doesn’t include singers like Adam Lambert or Chely Wright or Elton John, or athletes like Johnny Weir or Michael Sam, Orlando Cruz, or Martina Navratilova., or politicians like Tammy Baldwin, Brian Simms, Jared Polis, Barney Frank, or Mark Pocan.

Damon then went on to suggest that actors should be private about their sexuality in order to be more attractive to an audience.
“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.”
But how many photos are there of Matt Damon out in public with his wife? How does he justify the way so many straight celebrities trot out their wives and husbands and children all the time, but in the context of discussing openly gay actors he suggests they keep their private lives private?

I think maybe you should start first Matt, and leave your wife at home when you attend a premiere, and stop mentioning her in interviews because, you know, we don’t need to know anything about your sexuality. Except you keep telling us with every red carpet event.
And so naturally, because he has a movie to promote, Matt Damon is now trying to walk back his statements and recently appeared on Ellen to clarify his comments:
“I was talking about actors are more effective when you know less about their personal lives. And was talking about it in the context of when Ben and I first started and people wrote all these articles, when Good Will Hunting came out, that we were gay because it was two guys who wrote the script.
And feeling like oh, well we can’t even like then you have to address it and then it’s like well I’m not gonna throw my friends under the bus, who are gay, and act like it’s some kind of a disease. How do you even address it? So you’re always in these kind of weird things.
But in this day and age I said this thing to The Guardian and it got turned into… and I was just trying to say actors are more effective when they’re a mystery. Right? 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.
And then it gets represented that that’s what you believe. Because in the blogosphere there’s no real penalty for just taking the ball and running with it. Ya know what I mean? You’re just trying to click on your thing.”
I didn’t see a mention or question about the Ben and Matt Are Gay rumors in The Guardian piece, and I didn’t see an apology. All I saw was, once again, Matt Damon saying that actors “are more effective when they’re a mystery.” Only he doesn’t keep his sexuality a mystery, so again, is he just saying gay actors should keep silent?

And the irony that he’s telling Ellen DeGeneres that actors should keep their sexuality a mystery when she’s married to Portia DeRossi, an actress on Scandal, isn’t lost on me. I didn’t see him tell Ellen that she and Portia should be less open about their sexuality.

I think unless Matt Damon has walked in the shoes of a black filmmaker, or a gay actor, he doesn’t know whereof he speaks, and to suggest that someone’s sexual orientation, the gay kind, I mean, should be kept hidden, while his straight counterparts exhibit theirs ad nauseum, is ridiculous.

Sorry, Matt, I like you, I do; but you need to stop and think, and then perhaps say nothing.
Gar Star News


anne marie in philly said...

he's gotta hella lotta nerve, telling people to shut up about themselves.

I got an idea, matt - howsabout YOU STFU and let the grown-ups talk and be comfortable being who they are, m'kay? asshat of the week!

Mitchell is Moving said...

I liked him better when the only talking he did was when it came off a script. And here I thought he hadn't gotten carried away with his own self-importance.

the dogs' mother said...

great actors are great actors.
look at the ones who make us shiver
in our boots with their evil portrayals -
they make you forget anything you know
about them.
good 2 cents, bob xoxoxo

Mark in DE said...

Honestly, celebrities just can't win. Its ridiculous to me that the interviewer was asking his opinion on whether or not its harder for gay actors. How would a straight man be expected to know this? Why would he have any insight on whether its harder for gay, hispanic, female, or any other minority group as actors? But of course he can't tell the interviewer he doesn't wish to comment on their stupid question, so he feebles with an answer and then has to deal with the backlash. They have to do interviews in order to promote their latest projects, but then suffer for it afterwards.

mistress maddie said...

I agree with you Bob, I adore Damon, but what the hell??? The California air pollution must be messing with his mind, or he isn't washing the fruit off before he eats it.

Dave R said...

While I see your point, I also see Matt Damon's. He's not saying lesbian and gay actors aren't going to work, he's saying they're not going to be offered the plum parts in movies. Jodi Foster is still working and still making a lot of money, but she came out decades after her last Oscar. The reboot of Star Trek had already made boodles at the box office before Zachery Quinto came out, and millions around the world now know him as Spock. Except for the Star Trek franchise, he's not been cast in any other "A" list films except for the voice of Pascal Lee in "The Martian." And if they are gay and out, Like Matt Bomer, and do get cast in a "B" movie, like "Magic Mike", they're playing second fiddle to a straight guy, Joe Mangielloe (sp). Also, you have to remember, Matt Damon's a movie person, he talks about movies, not TV, which are totally different. People like Neil Patrick Harris on the small screen, however, to make it to an "A" list movie he had to play a pervy character. Until he played Gandalf, no one knew who Ian McLellan was, before that how many "A" films was he in? Gay actors do work, but one suspects it will be a long time before a Disney Casting exec calls a gay actor and offers them the part in as a Sperhero. Don't bust Matt Damon because he's being honest... listen to what he says and learn. Sorry I've been so verbose but I've had a glass or two of Pinot Grigio.

Bob Slatten said...

I see your point but it was Damon's suggestion that actors keep their sexuality a secret to "keep the mystery" alive, yet he's always out and about with his wife, talking about his children--as he did on Ellen today while he tried to Damonsplain his way out of this.
If he believes that actors should keep their sexuality to themselves in order to create a sense of mystery then he should set the lead.
That said, as I said, I like him, I do.