Sydney Morning Herald
In his middle age, Damon seems to have infinitely more confidence than the younger man who broke through all those years ago. Though he was no slouch in the confidence department back then. Despite the machinery of Hollywood anxiously turning – wanting to propel him forward – he has no qualms about asking for a moment, or 18 months, for himself.
"I never thought, well, if I take a year off, no one's ever going to hire me again," he says.
"There are two movies a year, kind of. There's a cycle, the spring and the [autumn]. And if nothing comes along that's any good, I'll take six months off.
"I always just kind of react to what's out there; what directors are doing what, and if I miss the train on directors that I've had my eye on, I just wait for the train to come back around."
Said wrinkle led to the Budapest-shot film almost being made down our way. "In fact, this movie was almost shot in New Zealand. We were between New Zealand and Budapest, but the largest sound stage in the world is in Budapest and Ridley couldn't resist it. He wanted to go to New Zealand particularly because Weta was there, and Ridley was all like 'Weta's the best in the world', which is true. And so we almost went just for Weta. But he couldn't resist this giant sound stage in Budapest. I think Ridley just fell in love with that. Given that a lot of the movie takes place on a sound stage, Ridley wanted the biggest one."
One of the ways Watney passes time in The Martian is by watching a cadre of old 70s TV shows that are stranded along with him. What shows would Damon himself choose to watch if he was lost in space?
"Not the 70s TV shows. I could go with The Wire and Game of Thrones. I love Game of Thrones. House of Cards, I love that one. Breaking Bad. We're in the golden age of TV and I'm on Mars watching reruns of Three's Company."
Both men are cheerleaders for Matt Damon, whose performance is the centerpiece and with whom they never really crossed trajectories. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels shot in Houston, months before Damon started filming on what seems to be another planet.
“Matt Damon is superb, it’s a brilliant central performance, and not an easy one to do,” Ejiofor said. “I met Matt Damon years and years ago -- and then the other day.” He laughed. “I said, ‘I really hope to work with you one day, mate.’”
Daniels said, “I really like him and I was glad to be in the movie, first for Ridley, but second for Matt, because he makes good movies; he doesn’t make bad movies. And what he does in the film is extraordinary, a wonderful actor’s challenge and he did it really, really well. I hope he gets nominated, because he went from A to Z.”