EW:You have The Informant! and Invictus coming out this year and an Iraq-war drama, Green Zone, set for next year, at a time when adult-oriented movies seem to be struggling at the box office. What do you make of all the hand-wringing over the state of movies for grown-ups?
Matt: It's definitely a different world than it was a few years ago. Everyone is more skittish right now, and it's much tougher to get a green light. We're probably reading too much into it. There's a tendency to look for trends in such short time frames; Duplicity and State of Play come out and don't do business and people say, "This is the end of the movie business as we know it!" Ultimately, a studio's goal is to make movies that 13-year-old boys want to see twice, so a certain percentage of movies are always going to be big, loud, and kind of dumb--movies that my nephews absolutely love. [Laughs] But the rest of us want to go see movies too.
EW: Has the success of the Bourne franchise given you the freedom strictly to do projects that appeal to you without having to worry about their commercial viability?
Matt: I do very little career calculus. Early on, I saw friends of mine take jobs for those calculated reasons, and it very rarely worked out. I figured it was an impossible thing to control, so I was totally material-driven. But maybe you're right that the Bourne movies have inoculated me a little bit; if I do one of those every three or four years, at least one movie I make will be seen, you know? [Laughs]
EW: So what's the status of the possible fourth Bourne movie?
Matt: We're hoping to make a fourth, but we don't have a story and we don't have a script. I assume it can happen, but we have to come up with a story line that's deserving. I mean, if you see the Bourne character come out and say, "I can't remember" again, you're going to get up and walk out of the theater. It's like, "Get over it, buddy--it's been three movies. What the f---?!"
Kurt Eichenwald's 2000 book, The Informant--a nonfiction account of an Archer Daniels Midland executive who helped the FBI expose a price-fixing scheme at the agribusiness giant--reads like a straight corporate thriller, but director Steven Soderbergh viewed the strange saga of Mark Whitacre, who developed superspy delusions while also secretly bilking ADM out of millions of dollars, as raw material for an absurdist twist on movies like The Insider. "I started laughing incredulously at how this story kept turning," he says. "I thought, 'How do you make this serious?'"
To cast the flawed, mentally unstable whistle-blower, Soderbergh called on Matt Damon, with whom he'd worked on the Ocean's series. The role required Damon to pack on 30 pounds and sport a goofy mustache, but he was more than game. "It takes a certain amount of security to do that, but for Matt it was a nice change," Soderbergh says. "I started eating like crazy and drinking dark beer. I definitely got doughy," says Damon. "Between meals on set, I'd eat a No. 1 Value Meal at McDonald's and then Doritos on top of it. It was absolute heaven."
When a venerated Nobel Peace Prize winner says that he'd like you to portray him in a movie, you take the request seriously. Sometime after Morgan Freeman met Nelson Mandela in the early 1990s, South Africa's then president gave the actor his blessing to play him should Hollywood ever bring his life story to the big screen. Invictus (the Latin word for undefeated and the title of a 19th-century poem that inspired Mandela during his 27 years in prison) centers on the anti-apartheid leader's efforts to unify South Africa during the early days of his presidency, culminating in the country's stun-ning upset victory at 1995's rugby World Cup.
"I'm not a big rugby fan, so I didn't know anything about the '95 World Cup," says Freeman, who acquired the rights to John Carlin's book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation and brought the project to director Clint Eastwood. "But it's a wonderful, feel-good story." For his part, Matt Damon jumped at the opportunity to play team captain Francois Pienaar despite his near-total cluelessness about rugby. "First of all, it's Clint Eastwood directing," Damon says. "Second, it's Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela. How can I pass up a chance to stand next to him while he does that?"
Matt Damon, Paul Walker and Dennis Hopper all said earlier this month that they don’t use Twitter, but imposters have set up accounts in their names, complete with the stars’ photos.
To prevent impersonation of famous figures, Twitter is experimenting with a “Verified Account” feature that uses a white check mark inside a blue emblem atop the person’s profile. The absence of the badge does not mean an account is fake.
“I’m not on any of those,” Damon said. “I’m actually so busy and I’m out of touch with a lot of people I want to be in touch with. My wife did it recently and she was so inundated she kind of ran out of time.”