Matt Damon's Benjamin proudly unveils a poster touting the zoo's grand reopening, which features a drawing of a tiger by 14-year-old son Dylan (Colin Ford). "The way Matt is as a youngish father is so powerful, that is who he is," says Crowe, who met with the actor when Damon was shooting True Grit in Texas. "And that is who I wanted Benjamin Mee to be. I wanted to do this real, and when I saw how real Matt is, I said to him, 'You've got to play this father.'"
What reeled Damon in?
The actor, who has ridden horseback in films such as last year's True Grit and even spoke for an animated stallion in 2002's Spirit, hasn't had many other animal encounters on-screen. The rat in the final shot of TheDeparted? "Small potatoes compared to this," he declares. But Damon, a father of four — including a 12-year-old stepdaughter — is quickly making up for lost time.
"I've done a scene with a lion and an up-close scene with a tiger. And two days ago, I did one with a grizzly bear." That means, he says with a chuckle, "I've done lions and tigers and bears. Cameron and I have joked about how you are never supposed to work with children and animals, and how we decided to just get it all done with just this one film."