Matt Damon recently hosted a private fund-raiser at the Montage Beverly Hills in California to benefit the Center for Cancer Immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Damon spoke at the event as did his father, Kent , who’s received treatment at the Mass General Cancer Center since he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma six years ago. Other speakers included Dr. Peter Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Daniel Haber, director of the Mass. General Cancer Center, Dr. Nir Hacohen, director of the Center for Cancer Immunology, and Dr. Noopur Raje, director of the Center for Multiple Myeloma (and Kent Damon’s oncologist).
Matt Damon, who plays a geometry teacher in “Margaret,” is among those friends who sought to remedy Lonergan’s despair—in Damon’s case, by getting Lonergan to write “Manchester by the Sea” for him. It was, Damon admits, partly a ruse. “A lot of his friends were, quite frankly, worried about him. He needed money, but he couldn’t write—it was this horrible limbo,” Damon told me. “We got Kenny paid to write a draft.” It took Lonergan more than two years to finish one, but when he did, Damon says, “It was long, and it was meandering, and it was fucking incredible.” Lonergan revised the script and showed it again to Damon, who says, “I called him and I said, ‘Kenny, you are the only person who can direct this—this is completely a Kenny Lonergan movie.’ He put up a little fight, but those characters really had their claws into him.”
Damon promised Lonergan that he would star in the movie. Scheduling conflicts ultimately prevented him from doing so, but he remained involved as a producer. Damon recalls, “I told Kenny, ‘Look, it’s not going to be anything like “Margaret.” It’s going to be easy, and it’s going to be fun.’ Kenny said”—Damon switched to an impersonation—“ ‘I don’t believe you can have fun making movies.’ ”