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Matt Damon: ‘Politicians will always stoke the divides between us’

The Oscar winner and star of new film Stillwater says what unites us as people is so much greater than what divides us

Hollywood star Matt Damon has been a vocal supporter of the Democratic party and an outspoken critic of former US President Donald Trump. But the Oscar winner now hopes his new film will inspire people to reach across the political divide. 

Speaking to The Big Issue about his latest movie, Stillwater, Damon says what unites us is so much greater “than the things that divide us”.

In the interview, he reveals how spending time researching in Oklahoma, a Republican stronghold, helped remind him of what connects people from different backgrounds.

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“The politicians will always stoke the divides because it’s in their self-interest,” he tells The Big Issue. 

“But when we can just get together? They live differently down there than where I grew up, but how would I live if I lived in rural Oklahoma?

“They’ve chosen to organise their lives in a different way, but it makes total sense if that’s where you are. And then you start to make those connections. As an actor, I couldn’t do my job if I didn’t believe that.

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“We’re all connected and your experience dictates the type of person you are. It’s a great reminder when you really sit with people that the media would tell you you’re so different from and you realise that they have a great value system and they are highly moral people, they love their kids, they love each other. The big things are all the same.”

Damon hopes Stillwater, which follows the life of an Oklahoma-based oil rig worker, will help soothe the wounds of an intensely factional and divisive period in western politics.

“I find it really healing,” he says. “That would be the only reason to make it. If, you know, regular audiences can walk out feeling more connected to each other.”

Read more from Matt Damon on his career, healing divisions and finding creative peace at 50 in this week’s Big Issue, available now from your local vendor

Stillwater is released in UK cinemas on Friday, August 6, 2021.

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