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Matt Damon News Column
Refugee camp visit, cycling event for charity Sunday
  • Matt met with refugees from Zimbabwe in the border town of Musina, South Africa, on Tuesday on behalf of Not On Our Watch. Matt was also interviewed by AP. AP photos are below, with a larger photo here.

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    The Hollywood actor was visiting refugee centers in this border town as part of his work with Not On Our Watch, a human rights group he started with other celebrities such as Brad Pitt and George Clooney to draw attention to the world's suffering peoples.

    "I have spoken to so many people who went through so much to get to this point. It is testament to the situation across the border in Zimbabwe," Damon told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.

    An estimated 3 million Zimbabweans have fled economic collapse and dire humanitarian conditions at home, and Damon said he was "shocked and saddened" by the plight of those he spoke to.

    Damon, who patiently listened to heart-wrenching stories in the scorching heat, called the situation in Musina "untenable" and said "action has to be taken" by international and regional leaders.

    Damon is in South Africa making a film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman as the country's first black president, Nelson Mandela. He said he hoped to use his "celebrity capital" to raise awareness about Zimbabwe, where a new unity government is calling for $2 billion in aid to help rebuild.

  • The start of primary production on The Untitled Mandela Project was announced via a press release:

    The film will be shot entirely on location in and around the cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa, utilizing hundreds of local crewmembers, cast and extras.

    In a joint statement, the film’s producers expressed their appreciation for the cooperation extended to them, saying, “We want to thank the people and the government of South Africa for their gracious hospitality and their cooperation. We are thrilled to be in their beautiful country and look forward to living and working here in the weeks ahead.”

    Mr. Eastwood added: “We are honored to have the full support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and South African Rugby as we set out to capture this unforgettable chapter of their shared legacy.”

  • In a radio interview with a Cape Town station (likely to be KFM), Matt announced he will participate in a cycling event on Sunday to raise funds for charity Make-A-Difference Foundation, supported by Francois Pienaar. Initial details at IOL:

    In a radio interview on Wednesday morning, Damon said he had been inspired by Pienaar.

    Pienaar is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with fellow Bok Hennie le Roux and a few friends, and plans to descend in time to cycle the Tour on Sunday - all to raise funds for the charity Make a Difference (MAD).

    Damon said he had been inspired to sign up for Sunday's race alongside Pienaar.

    "I think I've got a little bit of 'mad' in me too!" confessed the movie star.

  • In an earlier interview for Johannesburg radio station 94.7, conducted as a prank call, the hosts announced that Matt had donated 150,000 rand to the Make-A-Difference Foundation.
  • 11 comments or Leave a comment
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: March 4th, 2009 10:36 am (UTC) (Link)

    Prank call interview and charity donation

    Matt was interviewed by a prankster radio host from Johannesburg (they're everywhere) and the podcast is available here:

    An article summarising the interview is here:

    At the end of the interview one of the hosts calls Matt the best sport they've ever interviewed. They also report that Matt has donated 125,000 rand to the Make-A-Difference Foundation, a cause supported by Francois Pienaar, the rugby captain Matt's playing in the film.



    Edited at 2009-03-04 10:46 am (UTC)
    From: (Anonymous) Date: March 4th, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
    ¡Good for Matt!He is a good person.
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: March 4th, 2009 09:13 pm (UTC) (Link)


    That's the single cut version. Yahoo has a different version of the interview available.
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: March 5th, 2009 10:32 am (UTC) (Link)

    New photos

    There's a photo of Matt training with a Cape Town rugby club at the UK Telegraph:

    There are more photos at rexfeatures.com, including Matt jogging with Francois Pienaar last week (look at the size difference!)

    And a few new photos from the refugee visit are at Yahoo.

    Update - A photo of Matt visiting a studio for a BBC interview is on a Facebook page:

    Edited at 2009-03-05 12:09 pm (UTC)
    From: (Anonymous) Date: March 5th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: New photos

    The lady's story is so so sad, but tragically not unusual. My friend's wife is from Zimbabwe; a beautiful country, and lovely people destroyed by greed and corruption.

    The difference in size between Matt and Francois Pienaar is scary! In real life Matt doesn't have the build of the average rugby player, but I still think he'll be really good. After all, acting is only pretending.

    I'll look out for the interview he did for the BBC. I listen to Radio 4 most of the time (yes, I'm old), I hope it turns up there. Marcia

    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: March 5th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC) (Link)


    The refugee camp Matt just visited has been shut down, so that's the focus of the BBC interview, which was for Newshour (and maybe other news programs).


    Audio is here talking about the conditions in the camps (maybe prior to the closure of the camp):


    Edited at 2009-03-05 04:53 pm (UTC)
    loganx2 From: loganx2 Date: March 5th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
    I keep reading how Matt is wrong for the part cause he isnt big enough, and from the looks he isnt, but I cant think of an actor out there who is big enough to play Francois. Some have said Daniel Craig, but he isnt much taller than Matt. I think Clint was going for acting ability more than anything else.
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: March 5th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

    New project confirmed

    The Adjustment Bureau has been green-lit by Universal. To fim in New York in September:


    Goodbye any thought of Bourne 4 in summer 2010.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: March 8th, 2009 08:54 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: New project confirmed

    Aw, I love the Bourne films, but I think Adjustment Bureau is timely and a solid bet (at least professionally). Matt, like most serious actors, tends to go after the roles that challenge him; and it may very well be that he's somewhat adopted to the character of Jason Bourne. You can only play a character so many times before you discover that there aren't many more layers left to peel back. I think he'll get away from Bourne a bit, try some other projects and return to the franchise (maybe next year?) with a new perspective. I think his decisions now may make for an even better Bourne sequel in the end.

    Besides, I'll be able to stop by the AB set and hopefully get a chance to see some of the action (I live in NY)!

    Personally, I'm hoping he'll throw another comedy in there too. It's been a while. ;)
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: March 8th, 2009 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: New project confirmed

    Thanks for writing. The new project sounds an interesting mix of art v commerce, and it's part of a new breed of modern sci-fi films (even Leo signed up to one this week for WB, plus the Total Recall re-make).

    Comedy would be great, or even a pure romantic drama. Matt was never in a rush to do Bourne 4, and was saying in recent months that it was not imminent. The script (probably) hasn't even been written yet, and with Nolfi now directing his own project, it's unlikely to be finalised without script doctors anytime soon.
    11 comments or Leave a comment