Matt Damon praised for response to interview question about teachers’ salaries

A resurfaced clip of the actor's impassioned defence of the teaching profession has drawn comparisons to 'Good Will Hunting'

Matt Damon has been praised for his response to a reporter’s question about teachers’ salaries in a newly resurfaced video.

The actor, who most recently featured in Christopher Nolan‘s Oppenheimer, attended a Save Our Schools march in Washington DC in August 2011, with interview footage from the event revealing Damon’s commitment to the cause.

In a recorded interview with Reason.TV – during which Damon stood alongside his mother, who is a teacher – the actor was asked a question that suggested teachers would work harder if they had less job security, similar to the unreliable nature of acting jobs.


“You think job insecurity is what makes me work hard?” Damon replied. “I want to be an actor, it’s not an incentive.”

He went on: “That’s the thing, see, you take this MBA-style thinking, right? It’s the problem with ed policy right now.

“There’s this intrinsically paternalistic view of problems that are much more complex than that. It’s like saying a teacher is going to get lazy when they have tenure, a teacher wants to teach.”

He added: “I mean, why else would you take a shitty salary and really long hours and do that job unless you really love to do it?”

The cameraman then chimed in to claim that “10 per cent of teachers are bad”, to which Damon’s mother asked: “Where did you get that number?”


The operator replied: “I don’t know, 10 per cent of people in any profession maybe should think of something else.”

Matt Damon
Matt Damon. Credit: Joe Maher/WireImage

“Well, OK,” Damon responded. “But maybe you’re a shitty cameraman, I don’t know.”

Viewers have since been heaping praise on the actor for his defence of the teaching profession. “Matt Damon absolutely decimating these people who are suggesting job insecurity is important for incentivising hard work as opposed to passion, all on behalf of his teacher mother is just really damn refreshing,” one Twitter user wrote.

“Matt Damon nails it,” another person added. “This Matt Damon clip should be reposted by every teacher in America,” a third said.

One person wrote that “damn Will Hunting jumped outta him for a second”, referencing his role as the sharp-tongued titular character in 1997 film Good Will Hunting, in which he plays a janitor at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) with a genius IQ.

The actor has been vocal about workers’ rights more recently in the midst of the current actor and writers’ strikes in Hollywood.

Speaking to Associated Press at an Oppenheimer London photo call in July, Damon said that “we ought to protect the people who are kind of on the margins”.

He went on: “And 26,000 bucks a year is what you have to make to get your health insurance. And there are a lot of people whose residual payments are what carry them across that threshold. And if those residual payments dry up, so does their health care. And that’s absolutely unacceptable. We can’t have that. So, we got to figure out something that is fair.”

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