'First Man' Star Jason Clarke Dismisses Flag Criticism: "It's Nonsense"

Jason Clarke visits Build Series - Getty-H 2018
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"The film itself can be interpreted as patriotic," he said, after Sen. Marco Rubio lambasted the film for not depicting the planting of the American flag on the moon.

First Man star Jason Clarke defended the film and dismissed political criticism as “nonsense,” following accusations that Damien Chazelle's chronicling of the moon landing is less than patriotic.

Clarke, who stars as the first American man to walk in space, Edward Higgins White, in the Apollo 11 story, responded to criticism surrounding the film after a tweet from Sen. Marco Rubio decrying the lack of a flag-planting scene.

“It's nonsense; it's just nonsense. The film itself can be interpreted as patriotic,” said Clarke, speaking at the Deauville Film Festival ,where he was accepting a career honor. “It's just silly and naive I think. Of course it celebrates one of the greatest acts of America and Americans and humanity and mankind.”

The controversy followed the Aug. 29 press conference in Venice when star Ryan Gosling said he believed Neil Armstrong's moonwalk “was widely regarded not as an American but as a human achievement.” The comments spread on social media before Rubio criticized the film for not depicting the American flag being planted on the moon, tweeting: “The American people paid for that mission, on rockets built by Americans, with American technology & carrying American astronauts. It wasn't a UN mission.”

“People look for conspiracy theories rather than looking for the truth,” added Clarke.

The actor credited co-stars Gosling, who stars as Armstrong, and Claire Foy for “doing the heavy lifting” on the space film since he had just wrapped the demanding Ted Kennedy drama Chappaquiddick when Chazelle approached him for the part.

Clarke drew comparisons between that film's theme and today's political atmosphere, which he called “dangerous.”

“We're happy to hold up people that hold up our ideals but don't really buy them. Hypocrisy and lack of responsibility is one of the biggest challenges facing us today,” he said, citing the “win at all costs” mentality that pits political opponents against each other. The Chappaquiddick incident stemmed from the Democrats wanting to win the White House, and he expressed hope that today's Democrats don't go down that same path.

The star also said he wrapped the upcoming Pet Sematary two weeks ago, just before heading to Venice and Deauville. “It killed me, exhausted me. It's a very physical, emotional, demanding story," Clarke said.