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Matt Damon News Column
Clinton Global Initiative, Green Zone
  • A photo of Matt, Wyclef Jean and Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative last Friday from the New York Post is below. Another report from the event is from Philanthropy.com.

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    Mr. Damon spoke about his support for programs that provide clean water and sanitation to people in Africa and other impoverished regions.

    Speaking to reporters alongside a group of charity and foundation leaders, Mr. Damon acknowledged his somewhat odd position. "Alright, who invited the stupid actor and why is he batting clean-up on this excellent panel?" he asked to laughter.

    Despite the humor, Mr. Damon spoke passionately about water issues.

    Mr. Damon’s celebrity life, however, came crashing back when a German reporter asked him if he wants to make movies with positive messages after playing a "gangster" in the Ocean’s Eleven series.

    “This is kind of where my life goes into the surreal,” he said.

  • Jason Isaacs spoke recently about the lack of a script for Green Zone. He appears to have been privately admonished by the studio, as he now claims the script by Brian Helgeland is brilliant, although Greg Kinnear essentially confirmed they didn't use it much at all.

    Isaacs: "I can't imagine saying that we are making Green Zone, the Paul Greengrass movie, without a script or that it wasn't a brilliant one. Brian Helgeland - he of LA Confidential, Mystic River, Knight's Tale etc etc etc fame - wrote a fantastically taut script that, along with the rest of the cast, persuaded me to abandon my family and decamp to Morocco for months.

    It's true that there are real soldiers, Iraqis and experts of all kinds on set who contribute to the authenticity and that Paul's style of shooting keeps you absolutely on your toes, but the story, the scenes and pretty much every word come from his Oscar-winning keyboard. Which is just as well since his version is a nail-biting thriller that fizzes off the pages whilst my improvised version would consist of me swearing a lot, mumbling and asking what time we were breaking for lunch.

    Kinnear: "Yes I would say that Jason nailed it pretty nicely there,” “Green Zone” Greg Kinnear said of Isaac’s observations, which included lines like “[Paul] just throws you into the deep end.”

    [On Greengrass]
    “He’s amazing. I really like the guy and I think that as an artist he doesn’t paint with the same brush as everyone else. He has his own process – you’re sort of on your back foot when you’re working with this guy you’re not sure what’s happening day to day,” Kinnear said. “I think that’s where he wants it to be. I feel like he’s making a dynamic movie and I’m excited to be a part of it."

  • Meanwhile, Greengrass spoke recently about his fears for the film to The Observer:

    But Greengrass, director of The Bourne Ultimatum , was nervous. He revealed he had just put the finishing touches to his latest film, Green Zone. 'It's another film about Iraq,' he worried. 'I've stood and watched as I've been filming all year while all the other Iraq films have tanked at the box office. I've got in there last and I think I've spent the most money.'

  • New photos by Ron Haviv from the visit to Haiti by Matt and Wyclef Jean are at yele.org or here, including the following.

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  • 9 comments or Leave a comment
    From: (Anonymous) Date: September 29th, 2008 11:53 am (UTC) (Link)
    It gladdened my heart to read of all the help that the Clinton Global Initiative is raising for helping Haiti and other areas. It saddened me when Matt was criticised for going to Haiti rather than Texas, for not putting American's first but I think such criticism is undeserved.

    When natural disasters happen you help those with the greatest need first, and the affect of Hurrican Ike following other hurricanes has left this part of the world devastated.

    I'm not taking away the considerable suffering that Hurrican Ike created in the USA, those affected obviously deserve help, compassion and support too, but a wealthy country with a good infrastructure can more easily provide these things and recover more quickly than a country that is desparately poor. I now wait to be slammed. Maybe your previous poster will enjoy seeing me marched of to a concentration camp and 'liquidated' too for giving my opinion, at least I'll be in good company.

    I am also wondering how Green Zone will do at the box office, my guess is poorly. I've said before that I think Paul Greengrass is a film making genius and I can't wait to see it.

    It's really good to see Jason Isaacs joining the ranks of other British actors doing so well in the US. So many are working there now in TV and film we've hardly got any left ;)

    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: September 29th, 2008 12:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
    I just watched a great interview with a practical ethicist who encountered criticism of his work, and was concerned until somebody quoted to him a Scottish proverb that says that the worst thing you can say about a man is that he died with no enemies.

    Matt has people who think they are enemies, and they will continue to keep attacking him, mostly without basis or even consideration of the issues. Matt's doing some extraordinarily good deeds, but he'll still be seen as that 'limousine liberal' who's anti-American (racist, sexist, anti-religion etc) to some people.

    I think Green Zone will be different to the other Iraq films because it's likely to be entertainment first and politics second. It's going to be a big budget thriller with political overtones, probably made for the mass market first but pleasing other sectors (like Bourne). It will have competition first from Kathryn Bigelow's 'The Hurt Locker', which may be the first Iraq war film that is commercially successful.

    There's always been great respect for British actors. I like that it took a movie like Harry Potter, filled with native UK actors, for many of them to get widely recognised and monetarily rewarded.

    Edited at 2008-09-29 12:55 pm (UTC)
    From: (Anonymous) Date: September 29th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
    I think the U.S. has always admired and greatly rewarded English actors from all parts of Great Britain and also from Ireland. I think we could all remember many famous names from that category: Olivier, Bob Hope, Niven, Emma Thompson, Connery, Burton, just to name a mere fraction of the whole. What I find enjoyable is the rise of Australian actors (love listening to that accent! I know, Felicity, what accent?!?)in recent years. Although Mel Gibson may have led the way, I think the invasion from Down Under has mushroomed in the last few years, though many don't realize it. Australian actors seem to have a real facility for speaking American and thus remain unidentifiable to the public unless they appear on a talk show and reveal their native lingo. So glad the English-speaking world has so many interchangeable parts of such excellent character!

    As for Matt's enemies and the Texas situation. Ike was much in the news here--celebrities were not needed to raise awareness because it's in the face of the public daily (calming down now, though) and Haiti not so much. I can't imagine what good Matt could have done in Galveston. It would just have been a photo op. Drawing attention to Haiti was the right thing to do. As I said in another post, Matt does what his heart (and his sharp-as-a-tack brain) impel him to do. He's got great instincts arising from his authenticity. Once again, go Matt!

    From: (Anonymous) Date: October 1st, 2008 12:06 am (UTC) (Link)

    Matt and Green Zone

    As an American I hope people around the world don't give too much weight to the rambilings of the right wing. Personally, I think their days are numbered, and as evidence am heartened to see a decline in Fox news' ratings. They are Pravda for the American right.

    Their entire mission is to scream so loudly as to drown out voices of reason. Don't believe it! That's not the America I know. Personally, I'm convinced that many of the internet attacks you see against anyone who voices a reasoned opinion (witness the vitriol placed here or at Matt's imdb page) are not spontaneous. I believe they are orchestrated and probably paid for.

    As far as green zone goes, I'm hopeful that the public good will to Bourne Ultimatum will help pull people in to another pairing of Matt and Greengrass.
    Thanks, as always for the great finds.
    From: elessar2011 Date: October 2nd, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Matt and Green Zone

    Given that many European and Latin American nations have their own rabid far-right-wing factions, I would hope they just tune that noise out.

    Personally, I think THE GREEN ZONE will be the game changer for Iraq-based films. Most of the Iraq films that have come out lately are not even war films, their dramas about coming home from war. This is not to say that such films can't be great (Deer Hunter, Best Years of Our Lives, and Born on the 4th of July come to mind) but such things need some distance from the actual event to have any resonance. TGZ is different in that it will be an all-out war film, more like Black Hawk Down with some echoes of Platoon, and thus will appeal to the action junkies. If it makes us care about the characters (something Haggis, Redford, and Hood all failed to do), then people can connect with it. I think Matt and Greengrass are up to the task.

    That said, HURT LOCKER may beat it to the punch.
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: October 3rd, 2008 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Matt and Green Zone

    Agreed. Re-shoots now look like early November in Rabat and London. There's certainly no rush from the studio to release it.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: October 19th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Matt and Green Zone

    I agree. Matt and Greengrass are up to the task of making the game changer for Iraq based films. I can't wait to see it. My wish is that ALL Americans see it. Too many people in the USA still don't know and understand the beginnings of the Iraq war. They want to believe the propaganda that they hear.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: October 3rd, 2008 01:06 am (UTC) (Link)
    I'm looking forward to the Green Zone and I believe it will do reasonably well in the US and incredibly well in the U.K. and Australia. I like Paul Greengrass's perceptive look at people and situations. I also think that Greengrass has found a "partner" in film, similar to Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. Both did very will individually, but together - they made magic.

    Thanks for all the work you put on this site!
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: October 3rd, 2008 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
    Thanks for your comment.
    9 comments or Leave a comment