Matt Damon Responds To ‘Diversity’ Controversy Following ‘Project Greenlight’ Premiere

In the span of 24 hours, Matt Damon has unintentionally come under fire for his remarks about diversity in film. The news traveled so fast across the net that the world “mansplaining” became a thing.

Damon and childhood friend Ben Affleck decided to bring their show Project Greenlight back to HBO after years of hiatus. The docu-series is a contest started to take a first-time director and give him or her the opportunity to direct a script of Greenlight’s choosing and have it distributed by HBO.

In the season premiere of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s show, Damon slams producer Effie Brown’s suggestion that the group pick a director with a different perspective. The lack of diversity in the contest was brought to a head when Brown noted that she was the only person of color in the room. Brown is the producer of the critically acclaimed independent film Dear White People.

Brown urged Affleck, Damon, and other Hollywood heavyweights in the room to focus on diversity, especially given the script’s content, which deals with issues of diversity.

“I just would want to urge people to think about whoever this director is – the way that they’re going to treat the character of Harmony. Her being a prostitute, the only black person being a hooker who gets hit by her white pimp.”

During the discussion, Damon interrupted Brown and insinuated that she wasn’t understanding the values of the filmmaking contest. Damon argued that they weren’t casting the reality show, and rather the diversity needed to be represented in the film and not the director.

Damon responded, “I think on the surface they look like one thing. But they might end up giving us something that we don’t want. When you’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show.”

Effie Brown was shocked by Damon’s response to her suggestion, and as it turns out, so was everyone else after the show aired.

Damon, who is currently gearing up to promote his new film The Marian, released a statement about the diversity controversy.

In a statement to Variety, the actor said, “I believe 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, “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.”

Affleck and Damon still went on to choose director Jason Mann, someone that had been a topic of conversation when Brown brought up the diversity issue in the room.

[Photo by Angela Weiss / Getty Images]