Matt Damon Defends George Clooney Over Elgin Marbles Row

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February 11, 2014 | 11:20am EST

Matt Damon has stepped up to defend George Clooney after the actor came under fire from a British politician in a row over the Elgin Marbles.
Clooney hit headlines over the weekend when he broached the subject during a press conference in Germany to promote his World War II drama The Monuments Men, in which he plays an art expert tracking down treasures stolen by the Nazis.
The actor/director insisted British officials should hand back the Elgin Marbles, a collection of sculptures taken from Greece in the early 1800s, prompting an outraged response from U.K. politician John Whittingdale, who hit back, “He’s an American. I suspect he doesn’t know why it is that Britain came to acquire the Elgin Marbles.”
The politician’s comments were mentioned at a press conference in London, and Clooney’s The Monuments Men co-star Damon stepped in to defend his friend, telling reporters, “That can’t always be the British default setting. It’s not actually an argument to say, ‘He’s American, he doesn’t get it’.”
Clooney went on to insist he stands by his opinion adding, “Apparently I got in trouble for saying that (they should be returned) and I had to do a little research to make sure I wasn’t completely out of my mind. Even in England, the polling is in favor of returning the marbles to the Parthenon..There are certain pieces you look at and think, ‘That would perhaps be the right thing to do’.”
The pair’s other co-star Bill Murray also backs Clooney’s stance, adding, “They’ve (the Elgin Marbles) had a very nice stay here, certainly. London’s gotten crowded. There’s plenty of room back there in Greece. England can take the lead on this kind of thing – letting art go back where it came from… The Greeks are nothing but generous. They would loan it back once in a while.”
The Elgin Marbles currently reside in the British Museum in London and have been a source of tensions between Britain and Greece for many years.

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