Putting the world in Mr. Damon’s hands is as smart as making him the star of a big special-effects fantasia. At once preternaturally boyish and middle aged (he’s 42), Mr. Damon has become the greatest utility player in movies: No one can better vault across rooftops and in and out of genres and make you care greatly if he falls. He’s so homespun that he could have sprung wholly formed from a corn silo (he shares James Stewart’s extraordinary likability if not his later-life, postwar neurotic edge). But it’s the ease and sincerity with which Mr. Damon conveys moral decency — so that it feels as if it originates from deep within rather than from, say, God or country — that helps make him a strikingly contemporary ideal of what used to be regularly called the American character.
First, it’s been a great week for Stephen Colbert. Daft Punk punked out on him, but he turned it into one of the best comedy moments in recent memory, and last night, not resting on his recent triumph, he did a great bit with Damon to promote Elysium. Riffing on the fad of celebrity heroes, Colbert got “trapped” under a Coke machine so someone would rescue him. Cue Matt Damon, but instead of being grateful, Colbert spent the whole bit poking at Damon’s lack of blockbuster success the last couple years (his last real hit was 2010’s True Grit), and asking if he really qualifies as a superstar these days.
Try to imagine anyone else in that skit. Who else would be totally cool with having a reminder that no one saw their latest passion project thrown in their face? Or play into the “film vs. TV” debate and be willing to look like the loser? Or just do something so silly in the first place? I say it of all actors—there is always, always an ego tucked away somewhere. But with Matt Damon, that ego is folded up and shoved somewhere remote and dusty where it rarely gets busted out. It’s Friday. It’s been a long week. Let the firm of Damon & Colbert close it out with a laugh.
What memorable moments during production stay with you the most?
Adrian Holmes: One of the great moments for me shooting this was just connecting with Matt Damon. I’m a huge fan from ‘Good Will Hunting’ on. ‘Bourne Identity.’ He’s such a great actor and he makes great choices in his films. So just hanging out with him, playing poker on some nights, weekends and stuff. We’d go to his hotel room and play poker and just hangout. Just seeing him as a normal guy was really cool for me. Working with him, of course, was also just a joy and an honor, just to see his choices and just how he conducts himself on set with so much poise and respect for everyone.
He makes us feel like we’re all on an equal playing field, we’re all peers. There was no hierarchy. It’s like our voices were just as important as his, and I really appreciated that. There were so many things. It was just overall an incredible, incredible journey, and we all got along so well. We all really loved being around each other.
How did you find the experience of working with both Matt Damon and Jodie Foster?
Sharlto Copley: Jodie is very easy to work with, you know? She’s just amazingly professional and it’s the same with Matt. They’re just so good at their jobs. I think one of the things I took away from both of them, which is possible why they’ve had such long careers, is that they’re just very easy to work with. They’re very down to earth and very grounded people. I can see that people would want to work with them, without even considering how amazing they are as actors (laughs). Matt’s awesome. Honestly, actors always talk about this, but if I could choose people to add to my family, Matt would be on my list because it was an incredible experience working with him. He’s a very smart guy, and what I really enjoyed with him was a lot of intellectual conversations about film – and he loves film and he loves acting. We had so many fascinating conversations about so many different topics. We had a lot of fun.
OK!: I know everyone is probably asking you about Matt Damon but can you tell us a funny story from behind-the-scenes when you were working with him?
Josh Blacker: Yeah there’s so many. He has such a great sense of humor and makes sure everyone was in a good mood on set. We have a great fight scene together and at the end of each take he would just do a WWE-type cheer roar as if he just won the WWE so that was funny. (laughs)