In one sense, Damon's biggest magic trick is that he is one of the most recognisable and most bankable actors working today. The sense of illusion is because Damon doesn't seem to be a star in any way, shape or form. He seems just like your average guy. He could be a cop or a fireman, a banker or a bar tender. He could work in IT.
It's a Sunday morning in London, and as he sits to talk about Invictus, alongside Eastwood and Morgan Freeman (who also earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Mandela), he cuts a somewhat unassuming figure, although it would be hard for any man to really shine in the presence of Eastwood. He sits down in the chair, stocky and well built, in plain jeans and a black shirt, and runs through his involvement in the film -- already his latest success story.
If Invictus is a continuation of the second act that looked so unlikely at one point, the third act of Damon's career, whenever that may begin, is likely to take place behind the camera. "I can't wait to direct," he has said. "I choose my movies based on the director and so I've been treating the last 12 years like a film school. And all the directors I've worked with have been very tolerant of my questions. The next step is for me to try it myself."
As he speaks today, he references Coppola and Antonioni, De Sica and, of course, Eastwood. Damon seems fascinated by the industry. At times, it seems like he even knows that he is an unlikely figure to be someone of such influence, so makes up for it with knowledge of directors and camera angles, balance sheets and budgets.