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Matt Damon News Column
SAG reactions, Berlinale
  • Matt was not nominated for an individual Screen Actors Guild award, but is in the nominated ensemble cast for The Departed. Critic Leonard Maltin's comments from USA Today, in their SAG snubs article, are below:

    The two finest performances of Damon's career might both be ignored by the academy, some fear. He was the slimy cop in The Departed and an angst-ridden recruit for the fledgling CIA in Shepherd.

    "I'm more impressed with him with every passing film," Maltin says. "He doesn't make conventional movie-star choices. And the character in The Good Shepherd is so bottled up that he has to internalize almost all of his emotions. That's challenging for any actor."

  • Excerpts from British critic David Thomson's comments in an article at The Guardian, where he compares Brad Pitt unfavorably to Matt:

    Have you been noticing what's happening to Brad Pitt's career? This Christmas, in America, Matt Damon is giving a really sensational performance in The Good Shepherd (in which a shy, retiring man turns into a ghost or a spook before your very eyes). The threat in the Bourne films is really paying off. Earlier in the year, Damon punched his weight in The Departed. Two knockout performances in a year - and Damon is seven years younger than Pitt.

    George Clooney survives because of all the other things he does. The same goes for Matt Damon. But Brad Pitt is behaving as if they [Ocean's movies] were real jobs of work.

    There's too much competition around for him to be complacent. Damon is flying now.

  • The Good Shepherd will be in competition at the Berlin Film Festival, held from 8-18 February - details here or here.

    George Clooney, a Berlinale regular, is expected to attend, as are, barring scheduling conflicts, "Good Shepherd" co-stars Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie.
  • 19 comments or Leave a comment
    From: (Anonymous) Date: January 5th, 2007 11:16 am (UTC) (Link)
    Thanks for the comments from the critics. It's good to know some of them feel the same way.
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: January 5th, 2007 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)
    I've deliberately posted a lot of positive quotes from the critics in the past few weeks. The film got a lot of great press, which is why I'm surprised Universal's not pushing the strong quotes more, or the individual performances.
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: January 5th, 2007 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)
    For example, this comment just came online, from The Guardian (story about Berlinale selections):

    Robert De Niro's acclaimed drama The Good Shepherd and Steven Soderbergh's wartime noir homage The Good German are among the first six competition titles to be named in next month's Berlin Film Festival.

    The Good Shepherd, starring Matt Damon, recounts the early years of the CIA and won a string of rave reviews Stateside.
    From: jazchu Date: January 5th, 2007 01:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Estoy muy enojada porque Matt Damon no fue nominado en ningun premio por actor protagonico espero que lo nominen para el Oscar.
    From: jazchu Date: January 5th, 2007 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: January 5th, 2007 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
    Hi, you can send fan mail to Matt via his agent, Patrick Whitesell:

    Matt Damon
    C/- Patrick Whitesell
    9601 Wilshire Boulevard
    10th Floor
    Beverly Hills, CA 90212
    sonnenschein308 From: sonnenschein308 Date: January 6th, 2007 01:54 am (UTC) (Link)


    I was wondering what MD said his favorite word was on inside tyhe actors studio, i tried to lip read it but couldnt. Also does matt read the mail he gets or does his agent you think? You dont have to post this if you could just reply to me. Keep up the good work i love your site and try to visit everyother day or so to keep updated on matt.
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: January 6th, 2007 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: question

    It's already been posted in the comments section what Matt said his favourite word was - look back or it's also mentioned in this article:


    I would guess Matt's agent passes all the mail on, and that Matt, or an assistant, would read it all eventually. Somebody probably vets it all initially, but Matt would be unlikely to read everything in detail.

    The message was already posted :-)
    From: jennaz123 Date: January 5th, 2007 11:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

    PopCandy mention

    From USA TODAY, Whitney Matheson's explanation for Matt's shut-out:

    Pop Candy mailbag
    Why is The Good Shepherd getting completely shut out of all awards? De Niro as director, Damon as male lead ... How is there no buzz for this project? -- Laremy L.

    Let me just preface this by saying I liked Shepherd -- in fact, it was the only movie I saw over the holidays. But it has received mixed reviews, and the most mixed opinion seems to focus on De Niro's acting ability, so it doesn't surprise me that he's not an award contender. On the other hand, I thought Damon was very good in the film, and I always love William Hurt, though this year it could be a case of too many boys in the field. And if I had to pick one Damon performance over the other, I'd say his work in The Departed was better than The Good Shepherd. Unfortunately, there were so many great actors in Departed that Damon may be ignored altogether.

    From: (Anonymous) Date: January 5th, 2007 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: PopCandy mention

    I thought Matt was great in The Departed. That's the movie that I'm upset he is being ignored in. But like the above post says everyone was great in The Departed. He may still get an Oscar nod for that film.

    There are quite a few people that think that Leo was robbed the year he was nominated for The Aviator. That could be the reason he is getting so much attention this year. That seems to happen a lot. Makeup Oscars.
    From: jeff_in_utah Date: January 6th, 2007 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)
    While I'd love to see Matt and his films receive all kinds of nominations, and I'm disappointed he hasn't gotten more official recognition for The Departed and The Good Shepherd, I have no doubt he'll receive plenty of noms in the near future. And of course Matt's doing it for the work rather than the nominations, and when it comes to quality roles, they really don't get any better than the opportunities he's been given lately, so I'm just thrilled for him -- thrilled that his success now means many more great opportunities for his career, and many more great performances for us to enjoy, for years to come!

    I just stumbled across a (probably short-lived) clip of the bizarro Skull and Bones initiation scene from TGS on YouTube -- and yes, Matt's character is unclothed for much of it, but it's all photographed in a way that I'd think it could be shown without editing on prime-time TV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzP15vHPhug&eurl=

    - Jeff in Salt Lake City
    From: (Anonymous) Date: January 6th, 2007 05:39 am (UTC) (Link)


    First, I just returned from a short trip and was catching up on my "Felicity's Site" reading. I saw an anonymous reader directed a question to me but that you felt it was all going far afield. Naturally, I'll respect your feeling and not reply except to say I think your reply really answered the question. Everything I said in my earlier post was a Hollywood commonplace; no one involved in the business would question that money, buzz, and politics decide who gets nominated for awards maybe 95% of the time. Everyone nominated has always given at least a "good" performance. But enough of that. By the way, I take nothing away from Leo; I just think Matt is a demonstrably better actor--IMHO. Peter O'Toole deserves to be King of actors and has for many years!

    My question, Felicity, is: do you know of any feud between Matt and Jay Leno? The last couple of times Matt's appeared on Letterman. Also, this last time, DeNiro appeared on Leno and got to mention Matt once. Leno studiously avoided mentioning or referring to Matt and Angelina and seemed to give DeNiro quick shrift--not what you would expect for an actor/director of DeNiro's stature. Is Matt still annoyed about the sneak attack video Ben made about "taking Matt to the park" that Leno sprang on Matt? Matt seemed very annoyed that night. Just curious. DeNiro's interview on Leno was cold and I think useless as publicity. What do you think?

    Island Boy

    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: January 6th, 2007 08:31 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Feud?

    Hi Island Boy.

    Answer if you like. I'm just about over the awards debate and am trying not to care any longer.

    However, I saw 'Blood Diamond' today, and I cannot understand how Leo was nominated. All he did was alternatively scowl, sneer, take his shirt off and pant furtively (most combined with 'that' accent). I'd call it, and the movie, an exercise in overacting and cliches strung together in a populist rant, topped off by a rap song over the credits telling us blood diamonds are bad.

    If you don't 'get' this movie, or the OTT performances, you fell asleep somewhere along the way. Leo was fine, but so's any other actor in such an obvious role. His plot device 101 forced crying scene (demonstrating the tortured past, he's really just a softie, the woman can get through!!!) was painful to watch.

    Matt hasn't done Leno since Supremacy because the press junkets for all movies since have been based in New York and he's been filming other projects at the time (ie no time to do other LA press). I don't think there's any bad blood, and the last time he was on the show Leno was really favourable about Matt being there, the movie etc. I can't imagine doing Leno was De Niro's idea, and without someone else to deflect answers, it probably was very painful for him. But I've only ever seen the show when Matt's on, and have no real indication of other appearances, or how De Niro was treated. Ben, of course, always appears to be BFF with Leno.

    Grimm was in LA, but that movie got no TV promotion, and Matt did the junket in between finishing Departed and starting TGS. Again, no time rather than a feud, I'd guess.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: January 7th, 2007 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Feud?

    Thanks for your take on Matt/Leno. That all makes sense. It would be a shame for Matt to be alienated from someone with such public exposure.

    Leo has many flaks, and they know their business. His performance in "Blood Diamond" is of the histrionic variety, and it makes me laugh to think of Matt's remarks while teaching the class at the end of "Inside the Actor's Studio." Asked to comment about acting, he demonstrated what an emotive actor would do: he contorted his face into a grimace and snorted two times forcefully to demonstrate anger. He then said, to the laughing delight of the class, "Who the f*** does that?!?!" Maybe he was poking a little fun at Leo? I think Leo's performance was effective but too demonstrative. You always lose the power and tension that moderated dynamic withholding of emotion gets you when you pour it all out constantly. An example would be Matt in GWH in the unforgettable "It's not your fault" scene. His breakdown after so much interiorizing for the rest of the film leading to it unleashes a flood of emotion in us--a catharsis of identification. Well, I'm sure you know all this, but it's a major distinction between the two. What Matt could learn from Leo (if it's what Matt really wanted) would be how to generate award-gathering publicity, and how to get some good flaks to do it for him. I doubt he would want to do that--too inauthentic.

    Thanks again for the response.

    Island Boy (U.S. Pacific Northwest)
    From: (Anonymous) Date: January 7th, 2007 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Feud?

    Island Boy, I think you've summed it up quite well with the phrase "catharsis of identification". This sums up why I find Matt such a magnificent actor. His emotions, or lack of them depending on the scene, are a glimpse into humanity. Each of us can recall feeling the need to internalize emotions due to perhaps a vunerability, fear, pride. Something unexpected can bring those emotions flooding into our faces without a word being spoken - and that's what Matt is brilliant at doing.

    I'm terribly disappointed that he hasn't been recognized in a manner which he so richly deserves.

    From: (Anonymous) Date: January 7th, 2007 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Feud?

    He's a real actor, Maureen, that's for sure. In a poem entitled "Ars Poetica", Archibald MacLeish writes about how far you have to go artistically regarding emotion. His view (and mine--and yours, too, sounds like)is that you don't TELL anyone the emotion, you EVOKE it within them. "For all the history of grief, an empty doorway and a maple leaf." That's what a real actor like Matt does: he helps US feel the emotion, not spew it at us. After all, the best art enhances our lives but doesn't live it for us.

    I choose to be happy that I know Matt is a great actor becoming greater with every project. I can look forward to his upcoming work and appreciate it, either as a misstep that helps him learn his art or as another leap forward.TGS is quite a leap the importance of which will elude many for awhile. We have a history in our civilization of underappreciating greatness when it is newly presented. I surely don't worship Matt, but it's gratifying to watch, as I have since "Courage Under Fire", the growth of a true artist who follows his art wherever it may lead. We should all be so brave in our own lives.

    Matt's time will come for major acting awards, and we will be able to say (maybe with a little self-satisfied smile!)that we recognized his great work early on and felt a friendly (if anonymous) kinship with him.

    GO MATT!

    Island Boy
    From: (Anonymous) Date: January 6th, 2007 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
    I too cannot believe Matt has been snobbed for an nomination again! It brings back memories of "The Talented Mr.Ripley" where he was robbed if you ask me of a nomination. I guess he always plays the villan instead of the hero. But I remember Scorseses film "Gangs of New York", where Daniel Day Lewis was nominated playing a villan and won, if I remember correctly. So where is the justice. Oh well Matt is coming into the prime age group for great roles so I am sure he is only going to get better and better.
    Kylie from Brisbane Australia
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: January 6th, 2007 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
    Hi Kylie. Thanks for your comments, and it's good to see an Australian reader.
    From: sunnysanstar Date: January 8th, 2007 04:33 am (UTC) (Link)
    I've got to say I'm very disappointed that Matt didn't get an individual nom and utterly surprised that Ben didn't get one. I haven't seen TGS yet so I can't speak personally of Matt's performance, but as for The Departed & Hollywoodland?--those boys were spot on perfect. I'm a member of SAG and as it is I had already begun expecting I hadn't been randomly picked as a voter this year. If I'm right, I'm kind of glad for it, because I wouldn't be able to vote for who I truly wanted. If I still end up getting a ballot, I'll send it back with a note about two very fine actors they left out.
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