If it was all "Matt and Ben" in the wake of Good Will Hunting, then today it is just as likely to be "Matt and Brad" or "Matt and George". Currently filming the final instalments of both the Ocean's Eleven and Bourne Identity trilogies, Damon has established himself as a box-office heavyweight. Not that he chooses his projects by the size of the pay cheque. In accepting his role in The Departed, he skipped the customary salary negotiations.
"When I heard it was Martin Scorsese and it was set in Boston and Leo was aboard, I said yes on the spot," he admits. "It's really rare in a film of this budget to have characters that are this interesting. Generally, the bigger the budget, the less interesting the characters become, but all of us has real things to play and that's a credit to Bill Monahan and the script. To be able to have that much to do when you go to work every day was really great."
Next on Damon's to-do list is directing: "I can't wait. I have a couple of things that I'm looking at but it will probably be something ultimately that I write. Just do it small. Ben just did it this year and he loved it. It's like having kids, you know. In five years, you'll wanna do it, man!"
Kevin McCarthy, a retired NYPD detective, was elated to have been chosen to act side by side with di Caprio’s police officer character, Billy Costigan, as one of four undercover detectives on his team. He appears in 15 isolated scenes in the movie, and spent three months in total working on The Departed.
When the shooting began it only took McCarthy a moment to appreciate what a gigantic movie he was involved in.
"It was all so surreal. There I was sandwiched between Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg and in comes Scorsese to have a chat with us. I just couldn’t believe I was there," he recalls.
McCarthy found working with Damon a joy, and the two had much interaction throughout filming.
"We chatted a lot about generic stuff like the Mets and Yankees but he was especially interested in my career as a detective and he would ask me very specific questions related to my job. It was a delight to be able to fill him in." says McCarthy.