Starring in this epic drama set in the high stakes world of espionage, Matt Damon plays Edward Wilson, an exceptionally bright and talented son of privilege who is recruited from the campus of Yale University to join the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, at the beginning of World War II. Wilson's acute mind, spotless reputation and sincere belief in American values render him a prime candidate for a career in intelligence, as do his deeply embedded commitment to honor and quite secretive nature. As Wilson becomes a veteran operative in counter-intelligence during the Cold War, not even his wife Clover, played by Angelina Jolie, nor his beloved son Edward Jr., can divert him from a path that will force him to sacrifice everything in service to his country.
The Good Shepherd will be filmed in New York City, Washington D.C., London and the Dominican Republic.
"Your fate in Hollywood is totally beyond your own control," Matt Damon says.
"Your time here is like the E! True Hollywood Story, but on steroids. In just a year, you're up, you're down, and then it's a miracle - you're back!" he says. "The only thing you can do is go out and make a good movie."
The 34-year-old Boston native seems appropriately relaxed in a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, wearing black jeans and a black T-shirt with Lance Armstrong's "Livestrong" motto.
He is toned and tanned, and flashes a warm smile.
"I just came from mime class," he jokes, referring to his monochromatic outfit.
Despite his admiration for Gilliam, Damon was surprised he was offered the role.
"The first time I went to meet Terry, I said: 'Why isn't Johnny Depp doing this movie?'" Damon recalls. "Terry looked at me and said: 'We don't want Johnny Depp. We want you.' I kept staring at Terry, who finally said: 'The studio (Miramax Films) wouldn't make it with Johnny.' I stared at him harder, and Terry finally admitted: 'Matt, you're my second choice.'
"I said, 'Oh, that's great,'" Damon says, laughing. "Then, of course, Pirates of the Caribbean (starring Depp) came out, and it was a huge hit.
"Now Bob Weinstein of Miramax is like: 'I can't (expletive deleted) believe we got Damon and not Depp!"'
Damon assumes the role of the villain again in Martin Scorsese's upcoming gangster film, The Departed, co-starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg. "It's a bloodbath," Damon says.
The cast includes Lena Headey, Gilliam-veteran Jonathan Pryce, Peter Stormare and Monica Bellucci. It is Damon and Ledger, however, that figure in nearly every single scene.
Gilliam offers high praise for his handsome leading men.
"They're both real pros," he says. "The work was really hard because there were a lot of effects. But we could laugh and tell jokes between takes, and then suddenly the camera would turn and they were in character. That was great."
According to "Bourne Identity" and "Bourne Supremacy" star Matt Damon, the butt-kicking amnesiac known as Jason Bourne will live to fight another day. "Down the line, yeah," the actor said of "The Bourne Ultimatum," the expected third chapter in the movie series. "I've got a few more movies to do before, but I definitely want to keep doing that, playing that character. I love it, I love the group of people who make those movies, I think they're really good when they're done right." Damon added that the "Bourne" movies allow him to do riskier movies, like "The Brothers Grimm," due in theaters later this month.