Seamus O'Reagan: And what initiated that? I'm curious because there is no question that this is a great organization, and with Sachs and Bono, what was the initial spark for you? I know you are converted now, but initially what brought you there?
Damon: Well, it's pretty hard to live in the West and not hear about this issue, it's kind of everywhere. And for me I'd heard about it, I was aware of it, I was aware that extreme poverty was a huge issue and really is because as the world gets smaller, these are all problems that we need to understand that we share, it's not the other side of the world, it's not that continent, these are our problems, this world is shrinking. And we need to own these problems.
I knew that once I had the time, I've spent the last 10 years focusing on my career, and I've just been married and I'm starting a family and I've been really focusing on that, I really felt that when I get a moment, I really need to start to look outside myself. My wife and I both really want to do more.
O'Regan: I know you are aware of that fact that you know you have influence and you are guarded about it. You want to know how you can use it best. That must be a question you have to deal with an awful lot, for projects you are interested in, particularly this one.
Damon: Well, that's a big issue and I think I waited a long time because as you said I wanted to maintain credibility and that's why I went to Africa this year, I didn't want to come out of nowhere, start talking, just having read some books. I felt like it was important to go there and see it and start. I mean, that was my first trip and I'm planning a trip next year, this time with my family. I want to share it with my stepdaughter and my wife and my daughter, because if I say something, I want it to have as much weight as possible. I don't want it to seem ever frivolous.
Ultimately I'm not particularly excited that we live in a culture that celebrities are listened to more than people with real knowledge most of the time, but I do recognize it.
The best movie I've seen in Toronto thus far isn't even playing at the festival. Warner Bros. quietly invited a few journalists who are scheduled to interview Martin Scorsese via telephone next week to see The Departed, his remake of the 2002 Hong Kong police drama Infernal Affairs, about the cat-and-mouse games between an undercover cop (Leonardo DiCaprio) who infiltrates the mob and a mobster (Matt Damon) who infiltrates the Boston police force.
DiCaprio and Damon both give career-high performances; Jack Nicholson, playing a mob kingpin, makes poetry out of his eloquently profane dialogue (his lines often reminded me of the dialogue in Deadwood); Vera Farmiga, as a psychiatrist, lives up to her hype as the Next Big Thing; and in smaller roles, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen are all aces. I had heard grumblings that the absence of The Departed from any of the big fall film festivals implied that the movie was probably a stinker. That may be the case with some other upcoming films, but The Departed is class-A pulp - grave, resonant, psychologically complex and acted to the skies. I can't wait to see it again.
Inside, the dinner began with an auction led by Damon. The most contested prize was a chance to join Pitt, Damon and George Clooney on the red carpet premiere of Ocean's 13.
Damon started the bidding at $5,000 and, not to be outdone, Pitt emerged from his seat to wager $10,000. Trying to spice up the prize, Damon jokingly said that Pitt had spoken to him and agreed to make love to the winner. The thought alone was enough to spark an intense back-and-forth between two bidders with the amount quickly reaching more than $100,000.
One of the female bidders said that if she were to bid anymore she wanted Pitt to come over to her table. The mega-star, smiling at the request, made his way to the woman's table, embraced her in a gigantic hug and then dipped her - much to the envy and moans of woman across the ballroom.
The bidding war was eventually settled when organizers agreed to let both parties win the prize, thus combining the final offers of $130,000 each for a total of $260,000.
The next auction, a Smart car that was to be signed by all the celebrities in attendance as well as a picture with Damon, went for $80,000. But the winner ended up being Damon, who outbid himself numerous times in order to up the total.
"I can't believe I get to take a picture with Matt Damon," he quipped after winning.
Pitt left immediately after Sachs' speech and Damon stayed around until the dinner concluded.
With such a phenomenal turnout, the event is sure to surpass last year's $1.3 million that was raised.