Matt Damon has apologized for his comments regarding diversity in filmmaking that sparked widespread backlash but also suggested that they were taking out of context.
A portion of a conversation from HBO’s “Project Greenlight” circulated online earlier this week. In it, Damon is shown shutting down producer Effie Brown (“Dear White People"), who made a case that a script dealing with sensitive subjects like prostitution should have a diverse directing team behind it.
She pointed out that the only character of color in the entire script is a prostitute who gets slapped by a white pimp.
Damon, however, fired back saying that diversity should be handled in “the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show,” meaning that it didn't so much matter if there was diversity in the behind-the-camera personnel.
He added that he was glad Brown had “flagged the issue of diversity for all of us,” but believed that those participating should be chosen on “merit,” leaving “all other factors out of it.”
The Oscar-winning actor was ripped on social media for coming off as tone-deaf to the lack of diversity in filmmaking.
In a statement released Wednesday, Damon apologized for his comments and said he believes “deeply that there need to be more diverse filmmakers making movies.”
“I love making movies. It’s what I have chosen to do with my life, and I want every young person watching ‘Project Greenlight’ to believe that filmmaking is a viable form of creative expression for them too,” he continued.
The “Good Will Hunting” actor said his comments were part of a broader conversation about diversity in Hollywood that did not make the show’s cut.
“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,” he added.
The lack of diversity in movies has been a point of discussion for many years.
The University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism’s annual study examining the 100 most popular films in 2014 found that 73.1 percent of all speaking or named characters were white, while Hispanic characters only made up 4.9 percent – the lowest among underrepresented minorities.
About 12.5 percent were black, 5.3 percent were Asian and none of the top 100 films starred a female actor older than 45.
It also found that of those 100 movies, 21 featured a female lead and only two were directed by women.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.