Actor, writer and producer Matt Damon recently spent time in Oklahoma as a way to character study for his new movie, “Stillwater,” but Damon left with an appreciation for the life of “roughnecks” that many in Hollywood do not have and an understanding of the apprehension some Americans face when it comes to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Damon dove right into the vaccine debate and acknowledged Americans’ concerns while respectfully siding with science.
“There are a lot of reasons that people have, and I don’t want to belittle them,” Damon began, “It’s tough for me, I have a couple friends who are immunocompromised and they can’t get the vaccine, so they have no choice but to rely on the rest of us to do our part to get to herd immunity. So I look at it that way.”
When the world became confined within the walls of peoples’ homes or apartments, perspective naturally shifted to oneself and surviving the pandemic, instead of survival as a society at large and for the greater good, which Damon thinks would have been a lot more effective.
“I wish at the beginning of this people came out and said, ‘Look, if we all do this, then we’ll protect each other better,’ rather than ‘Well, I’m not in this cohort so I don’t have to worry and it’s not going to hurt me that much.’ It’s just about looking at this as a ‘me’ thing or an ‘us’ thing,” the actor remarked before continuing, “but look, it’s a personal choice.”
“That’s the beauty of America, it’s a free country. And none of us would have it any other way. But I fall heavily on the side of trusting science more than something you read on Facebook,” he said.
The most recent data shows that in the United States, 68.7 percent of the adult population have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 59.8 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. The latest data also shows that over 161 million people in the total population of the United States are considered “fully vaccinated,” representing 48.8 percent of the nation’s total population.
Many who remain unvaccinated are concerned about the expedited development of the vaccines, still unapproved by the FDA, leading to unforeseen side effects. Reports linking the vaccine to heart inflammation conditions, blood clotting disorders, and Guillain-Barré Syndrome have dissuaded adults who were already hesitant to receive the vaccine.
In addition, some are not inclined to trust Dr. Anthony Fauci who has had a sea of controversy surrounding him despite his role as “America’s Doctor” in the last year and a half. Between the arguments over the efficacy of masks, the origins of the virus, Fauci allegedly funding research on the virus, and a reversion to peak pandemic protocols in some states despite vaccination status has left people unenthused.
Damon, a Massachusetts native who attended Harvard, is a registered Democrat who has been a participant in the national political conversation for decades; once holding a fundraiser with actor Ben Affleck for Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Despite his outspoken nature on politics and policy issues, Damon said his trip to Oklahoma to study up for his role as Bill Baker, an oil rig worker fighting to free his daughter imprisoned in France was “eye-opening.” The area lends itself to MAGA Country and what most associate with Trump supporters.
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The actor spent time with tried and true “roughnecks” and gained deference for their way of life. Damon said Baker would have absolutely voted for Trump at a Friday press conference for the film according to Yahoo.
“These guys don’t apologize for who they are. They’re in the oil business, of course he voted for Trump. These people were wonderful to us, they really helped us. It was eye-opening for me,” Damon said of the experience.
The actor said he learned to appreciate the smallest details from these men’s lives like the brand of fire retardant jeans they wear, which changes their gait.
“They all have goatees, the sunglasses. They’re not six-pack ab guys, but they’re strong. You go to their barbecues and a guitar comes out and they start singing Church songs,” the actor noted.
The movie, however does not revolve around politics. “We didn’t want to make it expressly political. He is who is and he is from where he is from and the movie has a lot of empathy for him,” Damon explained.
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