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Matt Damon News Column
Interviews, Green Zone opens
  • A typically good interview with Matt by Donna Freydkin is at USA Today, including:

    Greengrass, meanwhile, is also clear on what Damon brings to his films: a quiet, stabilizing decency.

    "He's a brilliant character actor. He's a brilliant physical actor, which is pretty rare. He brings a core of integrity to the heart of the film, which is important when you're exploring events like this," Greengrass says.

    He says Damon is equally decent in real life.

    Damon will banter about the future of the news business, his reasons for marrying his wife in an impromptu city hall ceremony after word leaked about their original planned nuptials, and his favorite Manhattan sushi haunts just as easily as he'll debate Middle East politics.

    With Damon, Greengrass says, "what you see is what you get. He genuinely is nice and incredibly hardworking. In all the years we've made films, I've never once seen him be crabby and anything less than 100% enthusiastic. He's immensely popular amongst crew and cast."

    He and his family — Lucy, stepdaughter Alexia, 11, and daughters Isabella, 3, and Gia, 1 — are now settled in Manhattan.

    "They're all thriving. That's why we're so excited about it here," he says. "We're not leaving. Nobody bothers me. The younger ones are not aware of any of the celebrity (stuff). We walk to school every morning. We play in the park. It feels like a normal life."

  • An interview with Jason Isaacs is here and an interview with Amy Ryan is here, both from Collider.

  • An Australian interview with Matt is at the Herald Sun, including:

    As with many who juggle parenting and a career, he recalls the moment he decided working might be less challenging than being at home 24/7.

    "It was really nice to be at home. It's funny. People think of it as slowing down, but it's not that way at all, because there's so much going on in our house, with three kids, cousins and friends coming over. It's pretty hectic," he says.

    On the surface, Damon appears to be leading, if not the perfect life, something that comes fairly close.

    "I hope so," he says, knocking on the wooden table in front of him.

    "It comes down to hard work and luck. I've worked really hard, but a lot of my friends have worked hard, too. A lot of it has to be attributed to luck. But it's like anything. Things will always look different from the outside.

    I don't think anybody feels they're leading a charmed life, but I certainly don't have anything to grouse about. I do wake up feeling incredibly lucky every day to have the family I have, above all else.

    "And kids are kids. They don't care about what other people think about you, it's all about you and them and that interaction. You can't fake your way through that.

    "It means sleepless nights, and all of those things are wonderful. I guess celebrity doesn't give you a pass with the real world."

  • Matt's interview on Today with Matt Lauer is here. Paul Greengrass deconstructs a scene from Green Zone at the New York magazine.

  • From an article at EW on the Kimmel 'Most Handsome Men' skit:

    When did you shoot?
    Two weeks ago. Sting was our first and Matt Damon was our last. We shot Matt on Saturday and we were very happy that he was game because he was a perfect button on the skit. That laugh was maniacal! He had to present the next day at the Oscars, so I was really hoping he had a voice for that.

  • Excerpts from reviews are below, from the SF Gate, Washington Post, NWI Times and The Age. Other highly regarded reviews are at Australian film site At the movies. A rave from Andrew O'Hagan at London's Evening Standard is also quoted below.

    San Francisco Gate
    It's a tribute to Matt Damon's special quality as an actor - not his star wattage, but his ability to project a certain simple human decency - that we care about him even when we only see the side of his head, the back of his head and the stray glimpse of his head bobbing into and out of the frame. In the first 10 minutes of "Green Zone," it becomes exhausting (for some it will be dizzying) trying to penetrate the loony camera work just to locate the actors and the story.

    Washington Post
    Damon, whose wholesome, muscular good looks make him an ideal all-American hero-next-door, has done some outstanding character work in recent months (to behold him in "The Informant!" is akin to watching Brad Pitt turn into Philip Seymour Hoffman). But in "Green Zone," he takes back the mantle of leading man with a vengeance, his character barking out hoarse orders to his adoring subordinates and fixing interlocutors with a fierce, sky-blue gaze before deciding whether to trust them (he always makes the right call).

    NWI Times
    Damon is divine as Miller. His endearingly torn and curious character provides a logical connection with those feelings of dissonance and distress that viewers often encounter when addressing the decision to engage in such an inconsistent conflict. Through this bold figurehead Damon communicates a politically charged message that provides an inside look on the occupation of Iraq.

    The Age
    Grounding it all is the ever-impressive Damon. Firmly established as the action man for generation Y, Damon delivers a tightly wound study of bruised loyalty that honours the American movie tradition where morally driven renegades make the best heroes.

    Evening Standard review
    Paul Greengrass has directed a film that does what countless newspaper articles, memoirs, government statements and public inquiries have failed to do when it comes to the war in Iraq: exposed the terrible lies that stood behind the decision of the US and Britain to prosecute the war, and it does so in a way that is dramatically brilliant, morally complex and relentlessly thrilling.

    But Greengrass must be singled out; with this film he has leapt into pole position as a British director with matchless resources. I could devote the rest of the day to talking about his style: the hand-held, rapid, exciting nature of his shots, the wonderful, breakneck smartness of his editing, but what now distinguishes Greengrass is his ethical curiosity. Whether thinking about Stephen Lawrence or Bloody Sunday, 9/11 or the real reasons for the conflict in Iraq, Greengrass is unswerving both in his manner of observing truth and of unearthing corruption. In Green Zone, he doesn’t put a foot wrong and he has made a film that will not only enrich people and thrill them but one that will contribute something permanent towards correcting the public record.

    It is often assumed that war films don’t work at the box office nowadays. Certainly, when compared to Avatar, the film that won last week’s Oscar for Best Film, The Hurt Locker, has made no money at all. But where such films don’t make enough money they might do something better — they might make a difference. I can’t believe people will not go to see Green Zone in their droves. I certainly hope they do, for it is a shocking, replenishing film, not to be missed.

  • And an offbeat interview is at Metro, including:

    You're part English, Scottish and Finnish – which place haven't you been to?
    Finland. All the travel I do is work-related – I have to get a job in Finland. Then I’ll go for an extended period of time. But to just go with little kids… it’s a big trip and tough to try to impose that on them.

    Anywhere else you want to go?
    I’ve done three or four movies in Morocco and still haven’t been to Marrakesh. I’m dying to get there.

    What do you do when you're not working?
    We’re a tight-knit family so it’s nice to wind down and read stories, sit and colour and play with Play-Doh. Just relax.

    You turn 40 this year but look ten years younger. What's your secret?
    Red wine. That, and the facelifts. I’ve only had five or six of those. And I quit smoking five-and-a-half years ago. But, you know, I’ve always had a babyface. I remember having a beer with Tommy Lee Jones in 1994 and thinking: 'God, when am I going to get a face like that?'
  • 9 comments or Leave a comment
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: March 12th, 2010 11:15 am (UTC) (Link)

    Parade interview

    Quotes from a junket interview at Parade:


    Trying to avoid the pitfalls of being famous.
    "I hope I'm doing a good job of it. It's pretty easy to kind of lose your way. I think working consistently with great people is really helpful. Also having kids is really helpful. They kind of disabuse you of the notion of your greatness pretty quickly. There's a routine that you get into with kids that precludes you from going back to your single days. I'm probably more boring than I used to be. I go to bed earlier and I get up earlier."

    What he hopes his kids will inherit.
    "From me, a sense of social justice and a desire to continue some of those programs that I'm involved with, or maybe not those exact ones, but hopefully, something to further social justice. And from my wife? She's a very wise and a very thoughtful person. Hopefully, they'll inherit that."
    From: (Anonymous) Date: March 12th, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
    Because you don't run a hate site, I imagine you'll delete the wrong-headed radical post currently visible. Arguing with name callers who obviously would not be able to define their terms is a massive waste of time.

    Just read A.O. Scott's N.Y. Times review. Very, very thoughtful and very positive. I don't know if this link will work for you (if you've already posted it and I've missed it, I apologize.).


    From: (Anonymous) Date: March 12th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Hopeful for a hit

    I am a longtime lurker and wanted to thank you for all of your hard work and information. I just wanted to note something hopeful:

    The LA Times "Company Town" blogger is predicting a "flop" for the Green Zone, saying: "pre-release surveys of potential moviegoers suggest the film will sell between $15 million and $20 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada this weekend. That would make it a major financial disappointment and particularly tough for Universal and Relativity coming after a weak 2009 box-office run and a recent underperformer in monster movie remake "The Wolfman.""

    But I live on the East Coast of the US and went to see Green Zone at 10:30 AM today EST. I expected to be one of maybe 5-10 people in the theater at that early hour. I was surprised to see approximately 50 people (some clearly supposed to be at work - they were wearing ties LOL) in the theater. Most were men, so hopefully the male appeal of this movie is being underestimated. I'm hoping that the estimates are wrong and that many people go see the movie this weekend. I am going to go see it again! I think GZ being a New York Times Critic's Pick may really help.

    Kenneth Turan of the LA Times said of Matt: "Almost imperceptibly, Damon is maturing into a formidable leading man, always slightly different, always completely believable, an actor whose quiet strengths have begun to mirror his recent "Invictus" director Clint Eastwood."


    From: (Anonymous) Date: March 12th, 2010 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Hopeful for a hit P.S.

    Also forgot to add that the three articles I read about Green Zone box office potential all noted that the movie is poised to do very well worldwide, based on initial reaction where it has already been playing. So the movie may make its money back just by being a hit in places other than the US.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: March 14th, 2010 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Hopeful for a hit P.S.

    I just saw the Green Zone and it is a well done movie. Fantastic acting job by Matt Damon. The theme will not resonate well in the U.S. and the movie may not do well in the domestic box office. It is the truth -- but a different perspective than what Americans are used to hearing.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: March 14th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Green Zone

    I know the movie isn't projected to do well financially, so I was shocked when I walked into my local theatre Saturday afternoon and found it absolutely packed. At least 90% full. And this is a very conservative midwestern town. Really suprised me.

    Matt was great but was also glad to find the smaller parts were done very well too. Jason Isaacs was convincing, and Greg Kinnear made a fabulous weasel (based on the trailer I was concerned about him in that part). I also thought the actors who played the Iraqui translator and general did a terrific job.

    Everyone will have their own opinion of the movie but personally I was so proud of Paul and Matt for taking on this difficult subject. It's like a boil that needs to be lanced.
    Thanks for all your work here.

    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: March 14th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Green Zone

    Thanks Marcia - that sounds promising. An opening weekend of about $14.5 million. In financial terms, a failure. In other terms - that almost beats in one weekend the original take of The Hurt Locker ($16 million). So not so bad.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: March 15th, 2010 01:06 am (UTC) (Link)
    You may be interested to know that the CBS Evening News carried a few minutes of feature on GZ tonight. Looked at very positively, the feature cited the film for its great authenticity, getting one of the soldier-cast to speak about it. Matt talks about the film presenting the facts fairly. The whole tenor of the feature was positive. No mention of the film not opening very well. Seemed heartening. GZ was being treated as a real living, moving document of our time. Very surprising on the Evening News.

    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: March 15th, 2010 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
    Thanks I.B. - that is good news. There were also segments of Green Zone on the BBC Evening News last week and a discussion on Newsnight. So it's breaking into the mainstream news at a low level. Michael Moore has written a number of Twitter posts about the film encouraging everyone to see it.

    And it's not as if all reviews were negative - Roger Ebert gave it four stars, LA Times, NY Times, other noteworthy papers were very positive. It's just never going to appeal to everyone, and the cost of the production made it unlikely to get into the black in the short term. And that's basically Universal's fault. I also thinking the majority of the responses from viewers to the film were reasonably positive.
    9 comments or Leave a comment