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Matt Damon News Column
UNICEF ball, various
  • More photos from the UNICEF Ball in Los Angeles on Thursday are at PopSugar, Mr Paparazzi, Marie Claire, Monsters and Critics and Holy Moly. Lucy is pictured below with Elisabetta Canalis (George Clooney's girlfriend) and Lauren Sanchez (Extra reporter and wife of Matt's agent Patrick Whitesell). Reports from the event are at Hello, EOnline, and People, with video at Access Hollywood.

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    Clooney and Canalis's affectionate vibe was infectious at their table: Jolie and Pitt whispered in each other's ears throughout the night, Barroso nestled into Damon's shoulder during the performances, and Heming lovingly adjusted Willis's tie before his onstage appearance.

    Among those in attendance were Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Matt Damon and his wife Luciana, with whom Elisabetta enjoyed a giggle.

    After dinner, the couple braved the rain to attend an afterparty at Il Piccolino in Beverly Hills. Clooney and girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis, Damon and wife Luciana, Cindy Crawford and husband Randy Gerber, and Willis and new wife Emma Heming also attended the private party at the small Italian restaurant.

    The bash continued until around 2 a.m., when all of the celeb guests had personal umbrella-holders walk them to their waiting cars.

  • Fun sports-based interviews for Invictus are at Dan Patrick's show and the Scott Van Pelt Show. Matt's radio interview with NPR's 'All things considered' show is here. An interesting interview with the sound designer for Invictus is here. A review from the South African Times Live is below.

    "This is a really complicated story," Damon says, "and any movie that's gonna be two hours long, you're going to have some simplification. Each character is going to stand in for a different perspective."

    The performances are similarly amazing. Damon bulked up to resemble Pienaar physically and hard work with a dialogue coach left him with an excellent South African accent. Audiences will not cringe, as we have had to cringe so many times in the past. It's a hard-working, detailed performance and the sequence on Robben Island, entirely silent, allows us to see in his eyes what he is too choked up to say out loud.

  • The producers of Invictus discussed the casting of Matt at Film Review Online, and Clint and Francois discussed Matt in George Christy's column here. Cast member Leleti Khumalo also discussed Matt at SA's Saturday Star.

    Question: Can you talk about casting Matt Damon?
    Lori McCreary: We all thought Matt Damon was a brilliant idea, and I would never have thought that we could get the likes of Matt Damon for this film, although with Mr Eastwood and Mr Freeman it was a little easier. We had three icons, so I was very excited about it.
    Mace Nuefeld: The power of the story won him over, and for us he’s got such a natural athletic physique and way about him that I thought he was a natural for the part.
    Lori McCreary: And his accent was genius.

    Francois found Matt to be "a great bloke… I was struck by his humility, being the success that he is, and I loved his wicked sense of humor."

    "Matt worked out very hard, got into terrific shape, and by structuring set-ups and camera angles, you can make a person look the way you want them to look" offers Clint. "He did a lot of weightlifting, put on a lot of muscle, did sprints, which he’d never done before, and some boxing."

    And although she did not interact with Damon too much, [Khumalo] describes [Damon] as a "sweetie".

    "You just fall in love with him. And he is hot," she laughs.

  • Previews and positive reviews of The People Speak are at NY magazine, the LA Times and the Boston Globe - below. Matt's interview with Howard Zinn on CBS is here.

    The special is a collection of live readings of little-known speeches and letters collected in Howard Zinn's revisionist-history tomes A People's History of the United States and Voices of A People's History of the United States, read by such sincerely sincere actors as Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Viggo Mortensen, and Danny Glover, in a manner that, says Damon, "hopefully won't put you to sleep."

    Turns out the documentary, whose readings were filmed on stages in Boston (at the Cutler Majestic Theatre) and Los Angeles, works beautifully. The stars bring a full sense of drama and import to the voices of our democracy without turning the production into a pile-on celebrity vehicle. While an alternate to the History Channel movie featuring unknown readers would undoubtedly have its own virtues, "The People Speak" has vitality and momentum thanks to the skills of the performers. These seasoned actors and singers are able to highlight both the particulars and the general significance of the material they’re given.

  • Matt and Josh Brolin discussed The People Speak at EW, with some excerpts below (not online). Another photo of the pair with a quote is online.

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    They're more than just pals: They're also among the stars and executive producers of the History channel's The People Speak (Dec. 13 at 8 p.m.), a celeb-filled collection of dramatic historical readings. But when EW got Josh Brolin and Matt Damon in a room together, all they really wanted to do was compare the size of their...vocabularies.

    Brolin There's already 96 hours of readings. And we'll film more and create Internet spots.
    Damon There'll be a growing archive of voices of the past, performed by actors.
    Brolin This is going to billow exponentially. [To Matt] That's pretty good, right? "Billow."
    Damon I like it. I've never heard "billow" used before [when speaking to the press].

    Question: Were you good history students?
    Damon I was fine. But if I could go back and go to college again, I would be a history major, definitely, instead of English and literature.
    Brolin And Chris Moore, he was a history major. You talk to Chris and you talk to Howard Zinn, and they have this plethora of knowledge of the truth of what happened...
    Damon You just said "plethora."
    Brolin Thank you. I'm raising the bar. He's getting angry at me.
    Damon I'm down two nothing--"billow" and "plethora." Shutout.
    Brolin Why are you even asking him questions anymore? He doesn't know how to speak.
    You guys are also starring together in the Coen brothers' next film, True Grit?
    Brolin Yeah, he got the bigger role. I don't know how that worked. I thought they were my friends. Obviously not.
    Damon [Laughs] Wow. That's hurtful. Just hurtful.

  • Matt received a nomination as Best Actor for The Informant by the Detroit Film Critics Society. He is discussed as an Oscar contender in two categories here, and Roger Friedman also rates his chances at Showbiz 411.

    Matt Damon was so good in Steven Soderbergh’s not totally cooked, "The Informant!" If the movie had been better Damon would be up for a lead actor Oscar. But it's not, so we turn to "Invictus." Damon is pumped up and buff as South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar. He’s also got the accent down so perfectly — and apparently the rugby, too — that you forget Damon isn’t a blond, white South African. Damon’s trajectory from "Good Will Hunting" to here is astonishing.

    He's never embarrassed himself, and has chosen roles with a consistent approach. Without being showy, he's become a dependable Hollywood star in the old sense. And he can handle sensitive material, comic, and action of course (See under "Bourne.") Morgan Freeman has an easier time in "Invictus" because we know a lot about Nelson Mandela. In a script that doesn't do much to flesh out characters, Damon creates Pienaar from nothing, and holds up his end of the film beautifully.
  • 8 comments or Leave a comment
    From: (Anonymous) Date: December 13th, 2009 01:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

    About the box office

    May I sound too naif, but,what is the impact of the box office in the nominations for the awards? I mean,what about the good performances and the good movies? Doesn't count at all?
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: December 13th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: About the box office

    The poor box office is going to hurt Invictus in its run for awards. If more people see the movie, more are likely to think of it favorably. It won't affect the Golden Globe nods (out this week), but in the long run it may hurt the Oscar chances - they will more likely want to reward commercially successful films. Informant is seen as a box office failure (though it really isn't), and that hurt Matt's prospects.

    When The Blind Side came out Sandra Bullock's Oscar chances were seen as a joke, but now they are being seriously considered as the movie has performed surprisingly well.

    From EW:
    The other new wide release of the frame, Clint Eastwood’s Invictus opened to a weak $9 million. But with an A- score from exit polls, the Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman-starrer is likely to play well in the weeks to come.

    Edited at 2009-12-13 08:33 pm (UTC)
    From: (Anonymous) Date: December 13th, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: About the box office

    Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I don't think this is a bad showing. Invictus came in third behind Disney and Bullock. Even the Disney only did $25 million--a family animated film perfect for Christmas time family weekend viewing. Bullock did $15 million with a personal redemption story with the U.S.'s favorite sport as the involvement. Invictus (a truly fine film--subtle AND exciting! involving, at best, a tertiary college sport for a small segment of tough U.S. male students) made, as you say, $9.1 million. I really believe it will have legs as word of mouth spreads. Keep those fingers crossed. This film truly deserves to be seen.

    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: December 14th, 2009 10:32 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: About the box office

    I hope it is seen and I do think word of mouth is strong - backed up by the Cinemascores (Friday night exit polling):

    "Invictus," about Mandela’s efforts to unify a racially divided South Africa during the 1995 World Cup rugby match, earned an overall Cinemascore in all categories of A- with 47% of those over 50 rating the film an A. 48% of all moviegoers were females rating the film A, while 52% males gave the pic an A-.

    So you liked the film I.B.?

    For any Australian east coast readers - the Australian premiere of Invictus will be at Sydney's Open Air Cinema on 13 January ahead of the release on 21 January.

    Did anyone watch The People Speak? There were a lot of very positive comments on Twitter.

    Adjustment Bureau should finish filming on Friday (I think). They're filming the love scenes this week following a call for near-nude body doubles a few days ago.

    Edited at 2009-12-14 10:43 am (UTC)
    From: (Anonymous) Date: December 14th, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: About the box office

    Yes, I liked the film very much. This is a film I will go to see again. Morgan Freeman and Matt are really perfection in their roles. Both show layers of depth the script (a good and subtle work in itself)really doesn't call for. The audience I saw it with--full house, about 200--wept and cheered. I'd say the audience was skewed a little to post-30's, but there were plenty of young folk as well. Eastwood, with the help of his actors, has created a work of exciting art. If my experience can be generalized, "Invictus" should do well.

    "The People Speak": spectacular project but very skewed to a liberal/socialist viewpoint. I'm fine with that, but, even though all these wonderful actors are reading from actual historical documents, many conservatives (particularly the Radical Right) will not take kindly to it. Some of the readings, in fact most, are performance level. For some reason, Marisa Tomei's stands out in my mind--among others. Howard Zinn is the linchpin around whose The History Channel was exactly the right place to show the documentary.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: December 14th, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: About the box office

    Sorry, it got posted inadvertently before it was finished! Howard Zinn is the linchpin on whom the whole production turns. He serves as a kind of narrator/mc. The History Channel is the right venue for this program; after all, it really is history. I enjoyed it very much--two hours of fine actors giving voice to the greatest dramas in U.S. history. Should be shown in ever U.S. classroom. Great documentary.

    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: December 15th, 2009 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: About the box office

    Thanks I.B. for your comments on both projects. Looking forward to both.

    Golden Globe nominations are tomorrow (Tuesday).
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: December 14th, 2009 11:26 am (UTC) (Link)

    Broadcast Film Critics Association noms

    Matt has been nominated as Best Supporting Actor for Invictus in the Critics Choice nominations (Broadcast Film Critics Association).

    The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) has announced the nominees for the 15(th) Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards. The winners will be announced at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards live on Friday, January 15, 2010 at 9:00 PM ET/PT. This year's event will take place at the Hollywood Palladium and will be hosted by Kristin Chenoweth. For the third year in a row, VH1 will broadcast the gala live on the network.

    Matt - Best Supporting Actor Invictus
    Invictus - Best Picture

    Nominations for friends and co-stars
    Emily Blunt - Best Actress
    George Clooney - Best Actor (UITA)
    Morgan Freeman - Best Actor
    Clint Eastwood - Best Director
    Marvin Hamlisch - Best Score (The Informant!)
    8 comments or Leave a comment