Cannes Day 4 Recap: Matt Damon defends Trump-supporting character in Stillwater

(Matt Damon in Stillwater)

Yet another standing ovation ends a screening at Cannes. This time Matt Damon teared up during the lengthy standing ovation for his new film Stillwater following the movie’s premiere.

Damon’s character in Stillwater is an Oklahoma roughneck who travels to France and goes to great, dangerous lengths to rescue his daughter from a French prison. At one point he’s asked by his French companions whether he voted for Trump, and he says that he didn’t- but only because he was a felon in prison.

Damon said he cried at the moment. During Friday’s press conference he revealed why he teared up. He said though he’s “been to Cannes many times before,” but the reality of returning to Cannes during the COVID-19 pandemic was “unlike anything he had experienced before.”

As for the chapter he chose to play who “of course” supported Donald Trump, he explained, “he is who he is and he’s from where he’s from, and the movie has a lot of empathy for him, and so do we.” “These guys don’t apologize for who they are or what they believe. ‘Do you have a gun? Yeah, I’ve got two.’”

Stillwater director Tom McCarthy and Matt Damon spent time in Oklahoma in preparation for the project meeting with the “roughnecks” of the film who spend hours driving from oil rig to oil rig and back home. In this very hands in the process, Damon got to know why they wear certain flame-retardant jeans over others and how that makes you walk. Damon elaborated  that every detail of understanding their culture was essential to getting the character right.

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“We got so much guidance from the actual guys,” Damon said. “It’s a culturally very specific place and a very different place from where he and I grew up. So these people were wonderful to us and really helped us. I didn’t know when I first read the script how specific this culture was in Texas and Oklahoma.”

The leading actor also took time to praise his co-stars, describing that after the first scene he shot with actress Lilou Siauvand, he realized she was the “Meryl Streep of 9-year-olds.” That she “gave something different on every take, which takes decades to learn, but somehow she knows that intuitively,” he said.