It’s been 14 years since Good Will Hunting. Do you have any plans to write another script with Ben Affleck?
Yeah, we really want to work together again. We have a couple of things we’re developing and we have a deal together over at Warner Bros, but he’s making a great movie right now called Argo... But he’s doing great and we have a couple of projects at Warners that we’re developing, so we’re hoping we can work together.
You’re also in upcoming film We Bought A Zoo alongside live animals. How was that?
Well, I actually worked with lions, tigers and bears. Cameron [Crowe, the director] and I would joke because I’ve got these two adorable children in the movie so it’s like I broke every rule at once [laughs]. Every animal and two really adorable kids — let’s just get this out of the way now.
What was your favourite animal encounter?
The lion. I’d never seen a lion up close. I was as close as you and I are now, and when you look at their eyes they look like they’re 1,000 years old. They look like you can see into their souls. It was really amazing, and here’s the freaky thing: they couldn’t really get the lion to stand where he was supposed to stand. When it came to shooting him, they needed him to look towards me, right? Now, keeping in mind that a lion can only work with a human being if he’s a third-generation domestic. So his grandfather was born in captivity…
Like a showbiz lion…
Literally, a showbiz lion. But what they did to get him to look my way was they walked a zebra about a 100 yards behind me, and this lion just looks up, boom, like that. So just three generations away from hunting on the plains, he still was like, “I am going to eat that thing right now.” When you see that you just step back. It is so impressive. Especially to be between the lion and the zebra, it was like, holy sh*t. It was really, really amazing. I’ve never seen anything like that. So that was cool.
What can you tell us about Elysium, the sci-fi epic from District 9’s Neill Blomkamp, due out in 2013?
I don’t know what I’m allowed to say. I play a guy who’s been in and out of prison and he’s very different from any role I’ve ever played. I have very, very high hopes for the movie. I think it’s going to be really good.
Behind The Candelabra will start production in summer 2012, with locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
As he presses on, he looks to an unlikely contemporary as a source of career envy. “Matt Damon,” Mackie said in a matter of fact tone.
“When I look at him I feel like his resume is really interesting, but he is also an intellectual. He’s into politics, causes, current events and philanthropy. I want to be involved in social politics and how my decisions affect the generation that’s looking at me – to influence and help people.”
Those attending the ISLP gala will include Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month; keynote speaker George Soros, founder and chairman of Open Society Foundations; and special guest Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.org.