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The art of ship bottling
  • An article about Matt learning the hobby of ship bottling for scenes in The Good Shepherd is at Kingsport Times-News (registration required). Some excerpts are below, including confirmation on Eddie Redmayne's character. Another strange skill learned for a movie...

    There aren't many people who can say they've taught Matt Damon a thing or two. But Kingsport's Terry Butler can honestly say she taught the actor everything he knows about ship bottling, a hobby Butler took up six years ago and a skill Damon needed for his role as Edward Wilson, a character based on one of the CIA's founding officers, in the upcoming motion picture "The Good Shepherd."

    Directed by Robert DeNiro and produced by his Tribeca Productions, the movie follows Wilson's life and work during a 40-year period, including his passion for building ships in bottles, which he passes on to his son, played by Eddie Redmayne. Angelina Jolie stars as Wilson's wife.

    Butler built 12 models for the movie, rented her entire ship-in-bottle collection to the studio to use as set dressing, and even helped revise the dialogue in one scene. But teaching Damon and Redmayne the ins and outs of ship bottling during two trips to New York City was by far her favorite part of the job.

    "Both of them were super to work with," Butler said. "Matt immediately put me at my ease. He was so curious about every aspect of ships in bottles it was as if he wanted to learn it. He had a curiosity that was so intense. I'd answer a question, and he'd ask three more questions about that question. I think he might pick [ship bottling] up one of these days."

    ...Around 6 that evening, Damon, dressed in street clothes and a baseball cap, was finally finished with screen tests and ready for training.

    "I let him try collapsing the demo model I had and play with that, than I took it off its stand and he tried insertion in the prepared bottle I had ready," Butler said. "He had fun with that. He was like a kid trying to get the video game mastered in the first attempts. He'd almost get the ship onto the clay and it would flip over and he'd say, ‘Man overboard!' He'd try again and make exasperated sounds or make faces at not getting the model to stay upright. It was hilarious to watch."

  • Some brief but positive comments on the first press screenings of Syriana are in Jeffrey Wells' column Hollywood Elsewhere (Wired section).