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Matt Damon News Column
'Human Factor' project confirmed, will film in South Africa
  • Variety has confirmed that Matt will co-star with Morgan Freeman in the Nelson Mandela/Rugby World Cup film The Human Factor, to be directed by Clint Eastwood. The project was first rumored in late September 2007 - see previous posts from 25 September and 27 September.

    Matt Damon has committed to star in "Human Factor," joining Morgan Freeman in the Clint Eastwood-directed film for Warner Bros.

    Shooting will begin early next year in South Africa.

    Damon will play rugby star Francois Pienaar, who created, with Nelson Mandela, an event that gave whites and blacks in South Africa a common cause to rally around as the country was trying to heal from the wounds of apartheid.

    The Anthony Peckham-scripted drama is an adaptation of John Carlin's book "The Human Factor: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Changed the World."

  • Interviewed by Capone at Aint It Cool News, actor Seann William Scott says Matt was previously attached to star in new film The Promotion.

    Capone: How much of your time these days do you spend lobbying for roles? Was this a part that you had to convince people to let you play, or did they come to you?

    Scott: I got pretty lucky. I asked him for the meeting, and I heard that Matt Damon was attached, and I was like, "Oh fuck!" So I was lucky that he fell off the film.
  • 22 comments or Leave a comment
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: June 4th, 2008 08:27 am (UTC) (Link)

    The Human Factor

    A few comments on The Human Factor, which I am thrilled to have confirmed as Matt's next project.

    * the news pretty much ensures that speculation about Matt's rumored role in 'Racing the Monsoon' is dead

    * this will make the second film in a row in which Matt plays a character based on a real person

    * Matt said at the Bourne Ultimatum junket last year that Clint Eastwood was the one director he really wanted to work with

    * And Morgan Freeman was the one actor he really wanted to meet a few years ago (cue story of assistant organising dinner between Matt and Freeman as a Christmas present)

    * the South African accent (and very well known figure of Pienaar) is going to be a huge challenge, as is Pienaar's stocky but athletic form

    * selling the film in the US (on the subject rather than the key players) may be a stretch, but it will be popular in the key rugby union playing countries: UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina

    * Matt previously played rugby union (briefly) in 'The Departed' (and Heath Ledger played union in 'The Four Feathers', for another movie-based rugby note)

    * Filming in South Africa will also be a huge challenge, but there will be lots of opportunities for charitable work and ties to existing projects (H20 Africa etc)

    * It will also be an interesting time for Lucy and Baby Damon, only a few months old at the start of filming.

    Edited at 2008-06-04 08:29 am (UTC)
    From: (Anonymous) Date: June 4th, 2008 10:06 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: The Human Factor

    I think Matt and his family will have a wonderful time in South Africa; it's a really beautiful country and the people are fantastic. My friend had a wonderful time there (incident mentioned in previous post notwithstanding). Of course the economic situation is pretty dire and getting worse, not that Matt will be affected, but seeing that level of poverty can be very distressing. My friend wasn't allowed to go into the townships but she worked with people who lived there and their lives were very hard and that was 20 years ago.

    Like you say I think the film may be a hard sell in the US, I'm not sure how familiar Americans are with Rugby, but it's really popular in many countries in the rest of the world and will be an easier sell internationally. Marcia
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: June 4th, 2008 10:32 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: The Human Factor

    I do think Matt and family will have a wonderful time in South Africa, but geez he doesn't make it easy on his family. Has there been another US actor who has spent so much of their filming time overseas? And some people don't leave California.

    I know that's tied into the movies he is drawn into, the challenges of filming on location, the movie-making experience as a whole etc. I don't expect a lot of press coverage while filming, but Eastwood seems like a superb director of actors, very respectful of actors, and a fast worker, like Soderbergh. Bring it on.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: June 4th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: The Human Factor

    Tommy Lee Jones spoke of his time working on Space Cowboys as one of the best he'd experienced as an actor. He said that Eastwood started filming at 10am and finished at 3pm, he was probably joking, but he did say that Clint Eastwood was a manic golfer and tried to play every day, and that his days on the set weren't long. He described him as one of the best and fastest directors he had ever worked with and that the set was relaxed and informal.

    The constant travelling with small children would probably be very tiring if it were just him and his wife but he probably has assistants, a nanny and her mum and maybe other staff to take off much of the load.

    After he completes filming on Informant it doesn't look as if he has any other film commitments lined up for the rest of the year, so he can kick back and relax with his nearest and dearest. M
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: June 4th, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: The Human Factor

    A post was deleted as it was speculative and based on personal prejudices and not facts or known information.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: June 5th, 2008 12:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: The Human Factor

    "The constant travelling with small children would probably be very tiring if it were just him and his wife but he probably has assistants, a nanny and her mum and maybe other staff to take off much of the load."

    Yes, assistants, nannies and her mum would help. I think it would still be very, very difficult. Just my opinion.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: June 5th, 2008 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: The Human Factor

    "but geez he doesn't make it easy on his family"

    I agree.

    "Has there been another US actor who has spent so much of their filming time overseas?"


    "And some people don't leave California."

    Reese Witherspoon rarely leaves California so that her children can stay in school and have stablility in their lives. Just an example.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: June 4th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Human Factor

    This is the most fabulous news! Yes, it will be a truly wonderful challenge for Matt. You're correct that Eastwood traditionally does very few takes, so actors need to be VERY prepared. A big challenge considering the demands of the accent. Perhaps that's why Matt decided to take some time off the rest of this year -- to prepare?

    And I don't think they'll try to sell this in the states on the basis of what the sport is. The cast and director will make people take notice. Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela is dream casting - like Nicholson palying the joker. Everyone will say, "Doh - of course! That's gonna be awesome!" I couldn't be happier.
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: June 4th, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Human Factor

    The time off (I presume) is to prepare for the birth and spend time with the new baby, and to rest after two films back to back. Within a month of Isabella's birth (or just over) Matt was in LA filming O13.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: June 4th, 2008 08:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Francois Pienaar

    Those who are interested can see a picture of and read an interview with Pienaar, and also hear his very chewy and interesting accent (multimedia section) at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/rugby/1999/world_cup/news/1999/10/01/q_a_pienaarparttwo/#more
    From: (Anonymous) Date: June 5th, 2008 11:33 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Francois Pienaar

    The accent strikes me as a Dutch person who learned to speak English in Australia. :o)

    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: June 5th, 2008 12:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Francois Pienaar

    Thanks Paula. A very strange accent indeed.
    From: novice_41 Date: June 5th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Francois Pienaar

    I personally would take footy over rugby any day... but well that's probably just me ;)

    little more history info on Pienaar...

    let's see how Matt will put this into performance... if incl in the movie.

    From: jc_layne Date: June 5th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
    This is fabulous! I was rooting for Matt to officially sign onto this project. He must be starry-eyed at the prospect of doing a film with Clint and Morgan!

    As for selling it in the US, I honestly don't think it'll be as hard as people are thinking. First of all, it's not being made to be a high-grossing film; it's not meant to pull in the young money-spending crowds. My guess is that the promoters for the US market will focus its energy towards the film's star power (both in front of and behind the camera) and over-all message, not the Rugby aspect (which, as someone mentioned above, will be one of it's main selling points in places like the UK, Australia/NZ, S. Africa, Argentina, etc...) Let's face it, most of the population will see Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, and Clint Eastwood in the same sentence and pay for their ticket solely based on that fact alone.

    And yeah the S. African accent (especially Francois's) is a bit on the quirky side. It's definitely one the of the more difficult accents to pull off. However this is where the dialog coach and Matt's obsessive dedication to his work come in!
    From: jc_layne Date: June 6th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
    What I mean to write was dialect coach... not dialog coach.

    From: (Anonymous) Date: June 6th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Matt's gallery of accents

    So, in light of this info, I got to wondering... how many accents has Matt done in movies? There's Tennessee, west Texas, South Carolina, and Boston, of course, as well as the generic midwestern accent he generally employs (I'm assuming that he has a trace of Boston in his natural speech). Anything else?

    I've got to say that typically I find his accents completely "natural" sounding, in that (unlike many American actors) they don't take me out of the movie by forcing me to think, "Oh, that sounds phony." They simply don't sound overdone. I have a friend from Memphis and have lived in Texas, but have only briefly visited S Carolina, so that one I'm not so sure about. But it was sure a pleasure to listen to (like any real honey-drippin' southern accent :)

    From: (Anonymous) Date: June 6th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Matt's gallery of accents

    His English accent in The Brothers Grimm. I thought it was very good overall. Marcia
    From: (Anonymous) Date: June 6th, 2008 04:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Matt's gallery of accents

    I knew I was forgetting something. Thanks!
    From: jc_layne Date: June 6th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Matt's gallery of accents

    Matt's got a great ear for accents. I know that Terry Gilliam said his English accent was pretty spot on and that during the filming of Identity, Doug Liman mentioned that Matt quite flawlessly slid into any language that he attempted (including whatever accent naturally accompanied that language).

    I think it also helps that Matt's a very good mimic - which is the basic skill required for doing any accent or dialect well.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: June 6th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

    accents and news

    True that a good ear is necessary. I find accents fascinating and can't abide a bad southern dialect in the movies. Julia Roberts' last attempt at Texan was like finernails on a chalkboard to me. So overwrought as to be painful. I can't wait to hear Matt do this.

    By the by, the Decatur H&R continues to add Informant stories, God bless 'em! http://www.herald-review.com/informant/

    From: (Anonymous) Date: June 6th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)


    I don't think it's been mentioned, but Rugby is an important (if alternative) sport in U.S. colleges and universities. Millions have played it (it's such a manly sport!) and millions have enjoyed watching it. There may be a larger audience for it in the States than some posters think.
    22 comments or Leave a comment