With journalists from around the world in stitches, the Bourne Identity star easily won over his audience at a Toronto press conference Friday afternoon.
From an impromptu voice over on screenwriter Scott Z. Burns to a fake confession that he only took the shape-shifting role to score an Oscar nom like his predecessor Charlize Theron in Monster, it's easy to see why Matt is such a widely-loved celebrity.
On Thursday, some jokester on the Internet posted an item proclaiming Matt Damon, star of the upcoming comedy The Informant, to be dead. At a press conference yesterday, Damon - clearly very much alive - said he had to call his wife to assure her he was, indeed, still kicking after his publicist starting fielding calls from scores of news organizations (CNN, The Boston Globe) checking to see if the Bourne star still had a pulse.
"All my wife said was, well, that's weird," recounts Damon, shaking his head. "Then she reminded me that the same thing had happened to George [Clooney] a few years ago. What amazed me even more was that the calls we were getting were from [news groups] that were very reputable. I asked them did you even read the story on the Internet? It read like the lyrics to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The truth of the matter is all these mother [expletive] are lazy [and didn't do their homework to verify if the story was real]. There I said it."
When someone address a question to "Mr. Damon," he says, "Sure, now that I’m dead I get respect! Are my angels wings intimidating you?
On Lucy's response to his weight gain
"There was just more of me to love. She was a good sport. We had fun. I loved parading around with my belly. My stepdaughter thought it was really funny, too, that I got all squishy."
Matt Damon was on fire today - the man is hilarious. He says he only took the role of a bipolar whistleblower in The Informant! for the Oscar. And regarding the weight gain of 30 pounds, claims he called made a call to a fellow actor who knows how to pack it on. "I talked to Robert DeNiro, who put on 60 pounds for Raging Bull. He said, the first 15 pounds are really fun, then you have to go to work after that. I found all 30 pounds fun."
When one journalist seems surprised that he would call DeNiro for this, Damon points out that they worked together before, so it wasn’t like he didn’t know the guy. He imagines how he might have sounded cold-calling: "Is this Robert DeNiro? I’m a young actor... Did you ever see Mystic Pizza? I’m in that. How about School Ties?"
Lynskey: First of all, he is the most normal superstar in the world, it seems like. Not normal in like a boring way. He is interesting and funny and great, but just the kindest, kindest person. It’s unusual for someone to be that successful and be so interested in everyone around them and just so kind I guess. It’s really been nice to get to know him.
Zestier than anything [at Venice] was Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant!. This truth-based comedy about white-collar crime jettisons all pretence to indignation or anti-capitalist sermonising; it just enjoys the laughter ride. Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), the man who blew the whistle on his agri-industrial company’s bosses for price-fixing, was a pathological liar who in-advertently sent himself to jail for longer than his employers.
Soderbergh has a light touch on the story tiller; composer Marvin Hamlisch’s droll jazz score punctuates big-band sound with tin whistle and penny flute; Damon dons a chestnut wig and moustache to give his best performance since The Talented Mr Ripley.
Anchored by a splendid performance from Matt Damon in the lead, “The Informant” adds an original panel to a growing body of American films, dramas, melodramas, thrillers, and now comedies, about the unique aspects of the American corporate world, and by extension, American capitalism.
Along with Soderbergh’s smart and astute direction, the film benefits from (actually rests entirely on the shoulders of) Damon’s natural charisma. A versatile actor, at home in every genre, he renders an effortlessly likable yet hard-to-believe performance. Damon is so well cast that it’s hard to imagine "The Informant" without him.
You’re about to get your first Lifetime Achievement Award, from the American Cinematheque society. Given that you are only 38, how does that make you feel?
It's a little intimidating. I remember years ago, watching Robert Redford get a lifetime achievement award on TV and he was only in his early 40s. He said something like, "You know, I am going to keep working." So that's how I feel. It's a wonderful accolade, but I don't feel as if I'm even halfway done yet.