Columbia Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox announced today that The Monuments Men, a Smokehouse production directed by and starring George Clooney , has started production in Berlin, Germany. The action-thriller is written by Clooney & Grant Heslov, based on the book by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter.
The all-star cast includes Clooney, Matt Damon , Bill Murray , Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin , Bob Balaban , Hugh Bonneville , and John Goodman.
Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men focuses on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys – seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 – possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind's greatest achievements.
The Monuments Men continues filming in Germany and the United Kingdom through the end of June. It is scheduled for domestic release on December 18, 2013.
Among folks who cover the famous, Damon is considered the gold standard: smart, funny, nice, always plays ball. This interview was no exception.
HEMISPHERES: But water has a bit of a marketing problem. Because it’s so abundant here, people can’t imagine how big a deal it is in sub-Saharan Africa. In terms of global issues, AIDS actually has more traction in the public consciousness.
DAMON: Yeah, because everybody knows, or has known, somebody with AIDS. My wife’s father died of it. It touches people in a very personal way.
HEMISPHERES: You received a career tribute the other night at the Gotham Awards. Is it really tribute time? How old are you?
DAMON: I’m 42. I completely agree. I didn’t even know what to say to that. I’m trying to get a little $18 million movie out there, so I’m like, “Yeah, sure, I’ll go to the Gotham Awards.” It’s still a little weird. I thought, “Does this mean you’re telling me I can’t work anymore? Are you putting me out to pasture?”
HEMISPHERES: The poster for Elysium has you holding a gun so big it looks like a cannon. Did you have to work out to be able to hold that thing up?
DAMON: It’s not that bad. They’re special-effects guns, so they’re not super-heavy. But my character had a shaved head and he was really built, with tattoos all over him, so going to the gym three or four hours a day was a big thing in getting ready for that movie.
The right balance of relatability and mystery. It's the Renner Conundrum (to put it Ludlumesque-ly): Movie stars need to seem like people you could know and, at the same time, people you could never fully know. Matt Damon looks like somebody you knew in college, or maybe the dad of the kid with whom your kid rides the bus, but his reserve suggests a personal moral code and an ability to keep things close to the vest—a privacy that can make him read as both ordinary and unknowable; his Bourne was the perfect mating of character and actor.