Van Sant’s film, it’s true, feels as unfussy as a drink of lemonade. While the character actors lick their chops over their lines, there’s a goodly amount of weather, flags and landscapes molded by combine harvesters. And of people washing their faces in moments of mucked conscience. The movie is a morality play dressed in shots of Americana. “What it did for me was that every time I do a film now, I’m going to prepare for it as a director,” says Damon. “I’m going to think about it as if I were directing it in detail, how all the choices influence everything in big and little ways.”
DEADLINE: I watched last week as Brad Pitt’s bankability got questioned after Killing Them Softly tanked. How much do stars like you and Brad worry about taking on projects like that or Promised Land? You see them as specialty pictures made at a price, but if they fail, they go down in the loss column.
DAMON: Some actors don’t make these movies for exactly that reason. I couldn’t bear to have a career like that. These are exactly the kind of movies I like to go see. That might put me in the minority of the movie-going public, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make them. In writing Promised Land, John and I talked a lot about films like Local Hero and The Verdict, a movie I absolutely love. I don’t know what that movie would do today, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to be in The Verdict.