Few people know how to play to a crowd as well as our ex-governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who bestowed a lifetime achievement award on Sylvester Stallone. But the highlight came just as Michelle Monaghan was about to present her representative, Jennifer Allen, with a citation as Publicist of the Year, another client rushed on stage in his bathrobe, as if he’d just been woken up. Matt Damon apologized for being late and explained that normally Jennifer arranges his schedule and this time she hadn’t, leaving him to fend for himself. One can only admire a movie star who cares enough to prepare and pull off such a stunt…and it certainly says a lot about Allen, who is a thorough professional and a pleasure to deal with.
He’s been a soldier (“The Green Zone”), a poker player (“Rounders”), a corrupt cop (“The Departed”) and a South African rugby player (“Invictus”). Is there anything he can’t play? Dumb, maybe.
“No, BEN’s the smart one,” he jokes, talking about his pal and sometime writing and producing partner, Ben Affleck.
“Matt managed to conceal his native intelligence in ‘The Informant,’” says his “True Grit” co-director Joel Coen. “He can do anything including NOT showing how smart he is.”
“But you do sense a cunning there, don’t you?” asks Ethan Coen, the other guy who directed Damon in “True Grit.”
“True, true,” Joel agrees. “There’s always the cunning.”
“I’ve seen the magic trick, up close. A LOT,” Damon says. “I’ve worked with some of the best actors in this business, and there’s something that happens when you’re opposite a great actor…DeNiro, Duval, Morgan Freeman. You know when you’re being lifted and carried away by a great actor. Emily’s like that."
Damon just finished another movie – “Contagion” — with his friend, director Steven Soderbergh, and he has a role in Soderbergh’s planned Liberace film biography starring Michael Douglas, playing the piano-playing showman’s lover.
“Steven’s one of those “great directors who have given me really different roles, and what that makes me is just another character actor, but one who occasionally gets to play the lead.”
And the actor will try to exercise more control over his own fate than his character in “The Adjustment Bureau” seems to enjoy. It’s not easy, even when you’re one of the biggest names in the movies.
“It’s a reactive business. You can’t plan it. We just respond to what’s out there…Sometimes you go someplace new and people will want to come with you. And sometimes you fail. That’s determinism in Hollywood, I guess.”