Matt Damon apologized Wednesday for a comment he made during the fourth season premiere of his reality television show Project Greenlight earlier this week in which he suggested to a successful black female filmmaker that diversity only mattered onscreen and not behind it.
“I believe deeply that there need to be more diverse filmmakers making movies,” Damon said in a statement. “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.”
“My comments were part of a much broader conversation about diversity in Hollywood and the fundamental nature of Project Greenlight which did not make the show. 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.”
Damon had been excoriated both on social media and in left-leaning media outlets for his comment during Sunday night’s episode. The actor was debating with Project Greenlight producers about which director to pick to helm their feature film when he got into a contentious exchange with Dear White People producer Effie Brown.
“When we talk about diversity, you do it in the casting of the movie, not the casting of the show,” Damon told Brown, suggesting that casting diverse actors to play roles in the movie is more important than having a diverse crew behind the camera.
“Wow,” a visibly taken aback Brown replied.
Many media outlets immediately piled on Damon for attempting to explain diversity in the film industry to a successful black filmmaker. #Damonsplaining began trending on Twitter shortly after the episode aired.
Project Greenlight airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on HBO.