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Matt Damon is not backing down from the tough words he fired in President Obama‘s direction a year ago.
A one-time vocal and active supporter of the 44th president, Damon told Elle magazine he’d prefer a “one-term president with some balls” to the nonleader he believes Obama had become. In a new interview with Playboy, Damon plays down any notion that his rhetoric was extreme, saying, “I don’t think I said anything a lot of people weren’t thinking.”
Nonetheless, Damon said he voted for Obama’s re-election in November, with the prospect of a Democrat in control of the future of the Supreme Court incentive enough to put him back in the president’s camp, at least temporarily. Still, with Congress at a stalemate over issues such as the “fiscal cliff” and gun control, Damon — whose new film Promised Land addresses the environment and power production — puts little faith in elected officials.
“We’re at a point where politicians don’t really get any benefit from engaging with long-term issues,” he says. “Instead, it’s all about the next election cycle. Those guys in the House don’t do anything now but run for office. There’s a consensus among scientists, though, that we face serious long-term issues. They’re saying that unless we engage with those issues, we’re genuinely f—ed.”
In Promised Land, Damon plays a sales rep for a company that specializes in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a process that drills through deep shale deposits to extract natural gas. The film focuses heavily on the sometimes-underhanded practices corporations use to exploit financially struggling landowners, and as Damon tells Playboy, “It’s easier now more than ever in my life to feel the fix is in, the game is rigged, and no matter how hard you work to change things, it just doesn’t matter.”
In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s premiere, Damon pressed on the imbalance of corporate power and powerless communities.
“One thing [natural gas companies] are very worried about is decisions being made at the local level,” he said. “They really would rather have decisions being made at the state level. And their argument is that it’s far more efficient for them to understand what the regulations are for an entire state rather than try to argue town-to-town about how to do things and have different zoning laws.
“OK, that’s an understandable argument,” he added, “but the flip side of it for these local communities is like, ‘Are we going to let somebody legislate from the other side of the state what can and can’t be done in our actual backyards?’ So you can see each side there, and we’ll see what happens. But this definitely takes the view that we should be in charge of what happens in our communities.”
In the Playboy interview, Damon also addresses the speech his friend and Hereafter director Clint Eastwood gave at the Republican National Convention in August, during which he famously spoke to a chair.
“Look, his knowledge of filmmaking is so vast and deep that he can wing it beautifully on the set,” he explains. “What he did at the RNC was an unrehearsed bit he decided to do at the last minute. You can’t go onstage and do 12 minutes of stand-up completely unrehearsed. But I agree with what Bill Maher said: Clint killed at the convention for 12 minutes, and the audience loved him. I wouldn’t do that unless I spent a month rehearsing.”
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