Matt Damon, host of the One X One fundraiser, jumped into the fun to help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for international charities for impoverished children by bidding on one of the lots himself last night.
What started off as a ride with Lance Armstrong snowballed into a dinner prepared by supermodel Petra Nemcova and Mr. Damon's wife, Luciana, a private home concert from Wyclef Jean and tickets to an Elton John concert.
CTVglobemedia head Ivan Fecan was also a winning bidder at $150,000, with Mr. Damon matching the amount.
Matt Damon has described his past experience visiting Africa as "life-changing," stoking his passion to help and empower some of the world's most impoverished citizens. But when the actor returns to the continent, he'll have some high-profile company – courtesy of longtime friend Ben Affleck.
The Oscar winners are scheduled to leave Monday for Tanzania to observe aid work being done in the country. Damon said it will be similar to a six-day trip to the continent last year, where he spent much of his time in Zambia.
"We're just going to observe these programs and just try to learn," he said. "Our job is just to be quiet and listen and take notes and meet people and listen to peoples' stories."
Damon had hoped to visit with refugees from Sudan's Darfur region in neighbouring Chad but said the trip fell through at the last minute. Throughout the summer, he has been actively involved in helping raise millions to support humanitarian efforts in the region, along with fellow Ocean's Thirteen stars Don Cheadle, George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
Damon said participation in an event like the One X One benefit gala is a "no-brainer" for him.
"This event is so great, and it's such a huge fundraiser," he said in an interview hours before the gala. "The people that show up, the Canadians that turn out for this are just real heavy hitters, and they're there to make an impact."
Damon said he wants to broaden his involvement in humanitarian work, and hopes his daughters, Isabella and Alexia, can share in his journey.
"It's very important to me to raise my kids with a broader understanding of the world, and I want them to come on a lot of these trips with me when they're older."
Activist actor Matt Damon knows how to pack a lot into a day. And his nights.
After a three-day whirlwind of activity during the Toronto Film Festival - where he hosted last night's OneXOne charity event, introduced a new documentary Running the Sahara and shared countless dinners and drinks with pals in town such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Don Cheadle - the Bourne Ultimatum star was scheduled to hop on a plane this morning to Africa.
Mr. Damon conceded the contrast between the extreme poverty he sees in Africa and the excessive consumption in America is jarring. He said he deals with the incongruity by "completely compartmentalizing" the two extremes.
"You can't start thinking in terms of what they don't have and we have because it becomes too outrageous.
"But my wife and I, we think about it. And we talk about it. Neither my wife nor I grew up with money, so I think our relationship to money is pretty healthy in general. We're not big spenders, anyway. And I think that just has to do with our habits and our values, and appreciating a buck. We talk a lot about our kids, and how to best shape their values."
Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Don Cheadle come out in force to support Africa, a cause close to their hearts. They're all at the Royal Cinema for a private screening of the documentary Running the Sahara - narrated and co-produced by Damon - about three extreme marathoners who crossed six countries, and 7,200 kilometres, in 111 days.
Damon takes to the stage to present the film, thanking music superstars Wyclef Jean (also in attendance) and Bono for supplying songs for the soundtrack. Bono planned to come to the screening, Damon says, but had to cancel to attend Luciano Pavarotti's funeral. Also warming seats at the screening was Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) and Canadian Idol judge Farley Flex. Later that night, Damon and his wife, and Canadian heartthrob Kevin Segers (The Jane Austen Book Club), showed up together at the CTV bash supporting the film.
Sean Penn as openly gay '70s politician Harvey Milk and Matt Damon as his assassin? Yes, if Gus Van Sant has his way.
Penn is attached to play Milk and Damon is attached to play Milk's killer, Dan White, in the director's long-gestating Milk biopic.
Producer Michael London and his Groundswell Prods. are financing the film, set to be produced by Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks from a script by Dustin Lance Black ("Big Love"). The filmmakers are now in talks with a leading specialty division to launch the project. Once a deal is finalized, the team behind the as-yet-untitled feature hopes to begin production in San Francisco as early as December. The uncertain start date may affect Damon's participation.