It was eighteen years ago when the HFPA met a couple of young actors at New York’s famous Rainbow Room in midtown Manhattan. Their names: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, childhood friends from Boston who had written and starred in a lovely new film, Good Will Hunting. The rest, as they say, is history. After winning a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for their screenplay, both kept on acting, directing, writing and producing. For Matt Damon acting has always been his first love and there is not much he would not do for a role.
He broke into movies just shy of eighteen years young in a supporting part in Mystic Pizza with Julia Roberts, who herself was not quite famous yet. And he followed that with a lead in School Ties. To play a soldier with drug addiction in Courage Under Fire he starved himself and lost forty pounds, which resulted in health problems. But nothing could deter Matt and his passion for film. Not getting the parts he wanted he sat down with his buddy Ben and started writing. When the late, great Robin Williams agreed to be in their film, their careers took off
Since then Damon has played gangsters, con men, fathers, spies, soldiers and now a stranded astronaut. Along the way he has worked with some of the biggest directors in the film industry: Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Paul Greengrass, Steven Soderbergh and Ridley Scott. The biggest challenge on The Martian was the loneliness his character has to deal with being left on the Red Planet. For the father of four girls, loneliness is a foreign concept. He laughs: “Well, nowadays with four kids, I could use some time on Mars. It was funny, I thought about that now in my life I am very rarely by myself, cause even when I work, we usually all travel together. So it was something I had to kind of reach back into my time as a struggling actor. LA is a very easy place to feel alone, particularly when you are unemployed. And so I kind of had to think back to those days to remember what that felt like.“
Damon is still very active as a producer of Project Greenlight, a show he created with Affleck to discover and further young talent. And he is back in front of the camera as Jason Bourne in the as-of-yet untitled fifth film of the franchise. He is very open about the plot and recently told Variety: “We were in Tenerife, which is supposed to be Athens. It would be like a nighttime riot scene to kind of start the movie. And then England, Berlin a little bit for about a week, and a little bit in D.C. Then we’re going to Vegas for the third act … Big car chase on the strip.” It has been twelve years since he has done the character, a big gap to bridge in the new storyline: “Like The Bourne Ultimatum, the third act actually in the movie dovetails with the third act of The Bourne Supremacy. So technically when the Bourne character disappears, it’s still 2004. So when this next one comes out in ’16, it will have been twelve years — in movie years — that the character has been off the grid. So what’s happened in those intervening years gives you a story.”
The fifth Bourne movie will be released in July of next year, and he is attached to star in Suburbicon, a 1950s noir thriller written by the Coen Bros., directed by his friend George Clooney and co-starring Julianne Moore.