In many ways Matt has the most difficult role," Gaghan said. "He has to stand for something really American and be this American guy and do it living in Switzerland. Matt’s dynamic - and he is one of the smartest guys you’d ever meet. I rewrote many of his scenes, and I would dump a new monologue in his lap 15 minutes before the scene, and they’re big speeches."
Damon, looking fit and 20 pounds lighter thanks to a recent five-day juice fast, has been a star since he won an Oscar with Ben Affleck for "Good Will Hunting" eight years ago. But although he has his pick of projects and a third Jason Bourne thriller in line for next year, Damon knows stardom is a precarious perch.
"It remains an insecure profession, but with the opportunities I have now, I’m definitely doing the movies I want to do," Damon said, mentioning Martin Scorsese’s Boston-filmed cop drama, "The Departed," and Robert De Niro's "The Good Shepherd," a 30-year look at the history of the CIA. "I got to work with Marty and with Bob, and even if people don’t go see them, they were great experiences."
If life is busy and bright, it's due no doubt to settling down. Though only last August Damon was brushing away the wedding rumors, he now admits that his relationship with Barroso was cemented last spring.
"I never wanted to let anybody know, but when we bought the house in Florida in March, it was a foregone conclusion. The engagement isn't, like, anything new. We know we’re together."
The wedding, his first, will be a private affair. He’s not talking about the date, much less the place.
"We don't know that yet. We’re going to have to put some thought into that, but I'm busy working right now on 'Good Shepherd' until the end of January."
For Damon, the opportunity was tremendous, despite the complexity of the subject.
"It’s a pretty complicated topic," he reports, "so we all did a lot of reading. Stephen sent me twelve books." He grins his trademark smile and says, "I read some of them."
Damon was especially inspired by two books written by former CIA agent Robert Baer, whose memoir entitled "See No Evil" was the source inspiration for the film.
"Maybe there are actors who show up and say lines and not care if they know what they’re talking about," Damon shrugs. "Not me, I want to be grounded. That said, there were a couple of oil guys on location trying to explain how the industry works, and they totally lost me. But I know so much more about that world now than I did – because I knew nothing about this."
The two actors [Damon and Clooney] filmed in locations that included Boston, New York and Dubai. For Damon, acting in Dubai was not totally dissimilar to the others.
"Everyone was very nice, and Dubai is a popular tourist destination, certainly for Europeans; less so for Americans. I wouldn’t say I gained true insight into the Middle East while I was there, but I enjoyed it. We stayed in a nice hotel, right on the Persian gulf. But it didn’t feel like a cultural trip, it felt like we were shooting twelve hours a day, and eating and sleeping, and getting up to shoot again."
On location, Damon experienced a new Clooney: having gained thirty pounds in thirty days for the part, Clooney was unusually quiet and somewhat depressed.
"George is a really active guy and he couldn’t move around," Damon recalls. "Normally he’s the life of the party, but not on this film. Plus he fractured his neck during a torture scene, so he was both immobile and angry."
Damon grins: "But coming out of that he wrote and directed 'Good Night and Good Luck' and kicked ass."