Team Clint celebrated lavishly at the after party, held in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel ballroom, with the Eastwood family filling one couch pit, the Damon crew taking over another (with Orlando Bloom in tow), and even Nelson Mandela's daughter Zindzi and grandson Zwaloba ensconced in a third. The party was made complete with a jazz band, groaning tables of filet mignon and salmon, and gaggles of gigantic guys who star as the rugby players in the uplifting flick. Even the real captain of the South Africa Springboks, Francois Pienaar, the guy Matt Damon plays so convincingly in the film, was on hand.
"Matt may not be the same height as Francois, but he has the same tenacity and power," Eastwood remarks. "He also worked out very hard and got himself in terrific shape for the film. And," the director adds, "by structuring set-ups and camera angles, you can make a person look the way you need them to look."
Damon needn’t have worried, as Pienaar says he was immediately impressed by the actor. "He's a great bloke. I was struck by his humility and his wicked sense of humor. He wanted to learn everything he could about me, my philosophy as a captain and what it was like for us in 1995. We also chatted about the game of rugby, what happens in training and about the technical aspects. We had a lot of fun."
For the cast, preparing for the rigorous demands of actually playing rugby, "the training was very intense," Damon states. "I did a lot of weightlifting and put on a lot of muscle. I also did sprints, which I’d never done before, and some boxing. When I got to South Africa, Chester said, 'You look really fit. What have you been doing? I said,'Well, I've been weightlifting, boxing and sprinting.' And he looked at me for a while and then goes, 'Why didn’t you just play rugby?'" he laughs.
Now that he’s a father, Damon cares more than ever about encouraging tolerance. He and his wife, Luciana, are the parents of Isabella, 3, and Gia, 1, as well as Luciana's daughter from a previous marriage, Alexia, 11.
"I don’t think it's a natural state for children to be prejudiced," he says. "A case in point: I was trying to explain segregation to my stepdaughter. We talked about Alabama in the '60s, and she was utterly baffled. Alexia is very dark—her father is Cuban, and my wife's Argentinean—so I tried to explain that she probably would not have been able to use white water fountains. She goes to school with all types of kids and plays with everyone, so it was a lot for her to grasp."
Matt arrives first and gives me a big hug. We'd spent time together a few weeks earlier when he wrote a terrific PARADE cover story on charitable giving, and now he graciously greets me as if we're old friends. Intensely focused, he has energy that can light up the room. As we pour cups of coffee, he's relaxed. He chats easily about his daughters and the new movie he's working on in New York.
A few minutes later, Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman come in together. For two guys in their 70s (79 and 72, respectively) they look pretty good. Eastwood, typically, has driven himself over to the interview. Like Damon, he's a straight shooter--a caring, sincere guy not much interested in the trappings of celebrity. We've also worked together before, and he was as cordial and courteous as I'd remembered.
Damon, 39, isn't intimidated by the older stars, but he wants to make it clear how much he admires them. In fact, he once got a meal with Morgan as a gift.
"I used to talk about him so much that, about 10 year ago, my previous assistant arranged for us to have dinner together," he says. "It was a gift to me for Christmas. We didn't have a project to talk about or anything--it was more like a 'Make-A-Wish' dinner where I asked him questions about acting and he politely answered."
60. Matt Damon as action star
When he first signed on as the ass-kicking amnesiac Jason Bourne in 2002, no one would've predicted that Damon would become the decade's best mixer of brawn and brains. Shows what we know.
62. "I'm F---ing Matt Damon" video
A talk-show host's famous comedian girlfriend confesses in a catchy song that she's shtupping No. 60? Yeah, that'll go viral.
"He has this prosthetic nose, a funny thing in his cheek, a hilarious wig and he put on a significant amount of weight. In a way that liberated the audience because he's so handsome that it's almost distracting. He's sort of built to be a movie star. He has the perfect face and it would be really hard to look at that face and be like 'OK, here's the bumbling guy.' So it was really wonderful to be working with him and see him change physically. You were able to see how great a character actor he is. He could do anything. If he was an uglier guy he would be the greatest character actor alive."
CS: Chris, what's the next project for you?
Moore: I'm currently producing a Matt Damon movie called "The Adjustment Bureau."
CS: Is that based on a Phillip K. Dick story?
Moore: It sure is. It took a long time for me to get the job and I finally got it. It is and it's George Nolfi's directorial debut. It's Matt and Emily Blunt. It's a lot of fun.
CS: George worked on "Bourne" movies?
Moore: He wrote the last "Bourne" movie and "Ocean's Twelve." That's how he knows Matt. It's a very sort of big Hollywood movie and so we have to deliver on that.