In New York, he explains, "I've been really lucky. I'll completely forget that I'm a celebrity. And then something will happen and I'll go, oh, right. Literally days will go by in New York where I'm seeing the same parents drop off and pick up at school, and where everything just feels completely normal. I'm going to the Starbucks, and people know who I am, but it's the same baristas there, and they're calling out everybody's name. It's just our neighbourhood spot. So I'll fool myself, and then something happens."
He's also uneasy about the incredible wealth that must define his children's lives. "Our kids are growing up with more privilege than we had; that's true for most of my friends in LA. I don't know any actor who grew up with any particular privilege, so everyone wrestles with this. And I think a lot of times it's about being patient with your kids."
He remembers once staying in an apartment without air-conditioning when his stepdaughter was 10, and she simply refused to sleep. "And we sat there in a huff for a second. And then my wife and I looked at each other and went, 'Oh my fucking God, she's never slept in a house without air-conditioning. This is not her fault; this is our fault.' And I went upstairs and explained to her that all over the world there were kids right now who were sleeping and they never even knew what air-conditioning was. And that, when I was a kid, it was this hot every night in the summer, and I got a washcloth and I wet it. And I explained how her uncle Kyle and I would bump into each other in the bathroom in the middle of the night rewetting our washcloths. And she was laughing. We talked for, you know, 10 minutes, and I turned the light off and she was already asleep.
"It's something we talk about a lot, but I think ultimately it's about giving them an understanding of the world. So at least they can get some context for where they fit into everything."
Damon co-founded the safe-water charity water.org, and hopes his children will join him on field trips to Africa when they're older, but he also worries about ending up a Hollywood rentagob activist. "Yeah, there's the people who, you know, feel like, 'Shut up and sing,' " he grins. "People feeling preached to by privileged actors. I get that totally. I don't want some Hollywood actor finger-wagging at me, telling me what I should and shouldn't do."
Thanks to an accident at work, Max goes from wanting to visit Elysium to needing that visit, and his timeline seems next to impossible. He has five days to either get himself into one of Elysium's medical machines, or he's dead, and he is determined not to let that happen. I find Damon's work in the film to be casually great. It's a performance that doesn't necessarily look like the most demanding thing he's ever done, but the work he does here is deceptively complex. I like that as put upon as Max is in his life, he can't resist an ill-timed wise crack, even when he knows it's going to cost him deeply. Max's conversion from car thief to factory work wasn't motivated by selflessness, but by fear. He knows how close he is to getting totally flushed by the system, and he's barely holding on to a quality of life that looks terrible to me, but it's better than whatever alternatives there are for Max.
[Braga's] love for her daughter is her one drive in the movie, and I like the way Blomkamp plays the melancholy of the relationship that Braga has with Damon. They haven't seen each other in years, but as kids, they relied on one another every day. They were as close as they could be. Blomkamp is very good as suggesting volumes about character with just a few quick visual details, and I think Braga is emotionally right on the money in scene after scene.
I sat down with the cast and with Blomkamp earlier today to discuss the film, and we'll bring you that coverage soon. I am excited because I think this has a real chance of reaching a broad audience. I am excited because Blomkamp seems dedicated to bringing this sort of detailed world-building ability to many more original films, and I am excited because he'll probably end up working with Sharlto Copley in all of them. But mostly I am excited because no matter how much people want to complain that the sky is falling in terms of the state of cinema today, a guy like Neill Blomkamp proves that raw talent can still find a way to assert itself, and that occasionally, the right people break through and get to make amazing, unusual, original things.
What's the last romantic date you had with your wife?
We just spent a month in Costa Rica in the middle of the jungle and that was pretty romantic. So that was a long day.
What did you guys do there?
Swatted mosquitos mostly, but no no we had a lot of fun! We were with the kids and had a nice vacation. That's romantic! When you have four kids like that, that becomes romantic.
Jake Hamilton @JakesTakes
Just had an incredible ELYSIUM interview with Matt Damon! He complimented my questions and told me it was only interview of day he'd enjoy.
The film has a $75 million budget, and Clooney said it came in $5 million under and five days early. “That means more money for music and CGI, because in post you always get surprised,” he said. There was plenty of good will on the set, and even pranks that are part and parcel of movie sets where Clooney and Damon dwell together.
“Matt was rushing to lose weight, and I’d have the wardrobe people take in his uniform every day, so that no matter how much he was losing, the clothes felt tight on him,” Clooney said. “There was a real family feeling. I have known John Goodman since I was the seventh banana on Roseanne and to have him come over, and to work for the first time with Bill Murray, who’s a close friend, and Cate and Matt, was incredible. Jean Dujardin was great. I’d only met him at awards shows, when I told him early on that he might win the Oscar for The Artist if he learned English, which maybe I shouldn’t have said [Clooney lost to Dujardin for his perf in The Descendants]. Matt, Bill and John would often come to the set even when they weren’t shooting and when we had a snowstorm, they were right there, picking up camera cases and helping to move craft services.”
Even though Clooney acknowledges that $75 million is generous for a studio-made film that isn’t based on a comic book, he feels they got a lot of bang for the buck with star power and staging a period film in Europe.