The door to the hotel conference room swings open, and there’s Matt Damon, sitting dead centre in a brown leather wing chair. He’s chewing gum and scrolling on his phone. His hair is short and freshly cut, and his biceps bulge from his tight black polo shirt like Popeye’s after a hit of spinach. Sitting opposite him is like hanging out with an energy-efficient generator – it’s a compact package, but it emits a powerful heat. Not until he grins, however, do you fully appreciate why Damon, 44, is a movie star. His is a grin for the ages, a can-do, all-American, where-you-wanna-be smile. It’s so engaging, I almost reach for $12.50 to see him do it again.
That would be his wife of 10 years, Luciana Barroso, an Argentine whom Damon met in Miami when she was bartending and he was acting in the dreadful Stuck on You (a rare career misstep). A tattoo of her name, Lucy, in curling script, is visible on Damon’s right bicep just below his sleeve. He got it two years ago, after she woke one morning and announced they were getting matching tattoos, “apropos of nothing,” he says, with that grin. A tattoo artist friend came to their house in Los Angeles’s posh Pacific Palisades and did it. (“Lucy” was a bonus tattoo. Damon won’t say what the matching one is, only that it’s “personal.”)