Matt Damon would be perfect, if he didn’t seem a bit too perfect.
He studied at Harvard. He won an Oscar for writing Good Will Hunting. He starred in the Bourne movies, which were adored by critics and audiences alike.
He’s a family man. He speaks out on important political issues. He donates not only his money but his time to charity.
He stays out of the tabloids. He’s charming on talk shows. Indie film fans love him for the Kevin Smith stuff. The masses love him for Ocean’s Eleven. His hair is always neat. He dresses nicely, but doesn’t overdo it. He’s manly yet sensitive. Serious yet funny.
He’s still best friends with his childhood buddy Ben Affleck. He doesn’t smoke. Heck, he’s the Sexiest Man Alive.
The thing about people who are too perfect, though, is that you always wonder what really goes on in their minds.
It’s like those Star Trek episodes where they find a utopia, but then there’s always something weird about the place, like everyone has wicked halitosis or something.
The thing that makes Damon such an interesting case of ‘too good to be true’ is that he, time and again, takes on movie roles that explore this sort of theme. It’s as if he knows there’s something wrong with the fact that there’s nothing wrong with him.
JASON BOURNE IN THE BOURNE MOVIES (2002-07)
In the first Bourne movie, The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne is a cypher, an empty vessel with no memories, but possessing an infinite capacity to kick butt.
By the final movie, The Bourne Ultimatum, we learn that he was trained by the government to be a killing machine, a job he apparently signed up for voluntarily.
The Bourne movies capture perfectly the Damon Dichotomy: He seems like a nice guy, but then on the other hand he’s capable of beating a man to a pulp with a rolled-up magazine.
He wants to be good, but he was born to be bad.
TOM RIPLEY IN THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY (1999)
Ripley is one of Damon’s signature roles, and the one where he perhaps makes the best use of his suspicious likeability.
The story is that Ripley is a poor kid who gets a taste of the good life, and then wants more.
Sent on an errand by a wealthy father to bring his ne’er-do-well son back from Europe, Ripley instead assumes the young man’s identity.
When flashing his wide all-American smile isn’t enough to keep the ruse going, he resorts to more desperate – and deadly – means.
COLIN SULLIVAN IN THE DEPARTED (2006)
In a role that seems almost custom-made for him, Damon plays Colin Sullivan, a Boston gangster who is hand-picked by mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) to infiltrate the police department.
Sullivan becomes, seemingly, a model officer, all the while feeding information back to Costello.
It seems that almost every word uttered by Sullivan is a lie, and though it is apparent that he is proud of his ability to beguile the gullible, he is also racked with guilt.
As complex a performance to pull off as one could imagine, Damon seems to handle it with ease.
THE INFORMANT (2009)
Playing corporate whistle-blower Mark Whitacre, who seems to be one thing but is really another, who makes an art of deception, and whose inside and outside don’t mesh, Damon gives perhaps the performance of his life.
Anyone who knows anything about the real-life case of Whitacre will know that the agri-business executive wasn’t always on the up-and-up as he spied on his employer for the FBI.
A seemingly straightforward fellow and a supposedly nice guy, Whitacre lied to his boss, lied to the agents who trusted him, lied to his wife, and even lied to himself.
Through his voiceover in the film, we also learn that he has an obsession with creatures which seem to be one thing, but are really another, such as insects who take on the colouration of poisonous insects, without really being poisonous.
LOKI IN DOGMA (1993)
With his blond, boyish cherub looks, who better than Damon to play an angel?
But wait, Loki is not the sort of Angel you would find on a stained-glass window or on top of a Christmas tree. Loki is a fallen angel – and he’s nuts.
Not only does Loki have an impossibly foul mouth and a perverted mind, he’s also a stone-cold killer.
As he and his angel pal Bartleby (Ben Affleck) try to make their way back into heaven, Loki makes a detour to kill a meeting room full of corporate idolaters in cold blood.
Like the bit where he tells the otherwise pure-hearted office lady that he’s going to shoot her for not saying ‘bless you’ when he sneezed.
HIS good friends Ben Affleck and George Clooney have done it, so now it’s his turn.
Putting on weight, that is.
Hollywood heartthrob Matt Damon, 39, undergoes a drastic transformation in The Informant!, in a role that might win him the coveted golden bald man come Oscar time next year.
Here, he speaks about piling on the poundage, working with director Steven Soderbergh and bluffing as a profession.
You gained 14kg for this role. What was the motivation for transforming yourself?
Once Steven made the decision to take the movie in a more comic direction tonally, it became less important to do rigorous character studies of the actual people. It was more about having fun with this terrific script.
We had the script for seven years and we were kind of sitting on it, so it was actually more like a play in the sense that it’s really well-written.
We would refer back to it once or twice a year. Steven and I worked together three times in those intervening years and we would always say, ‘Yeah, I read it again last night. It’s still really good.’
Did the extra weight change you on a day-to-day basis?
No, it felt fantastic, actually. I’ve never had that much fun making a movie, really.
I just ate whatever I wanted to and thought about nothing but this screenplay and the other actors.
It was really nice to not think about anything else, compared to a Jason Bourne movie where I’ve got to go to the gym after a day of work. I just prefer to eat. (Laughs)
And early in your career you lost 18kg for a role in Courage Under Fire.
Yeah, nowhere near as fun as putting it on. (Laughs) Although I did feel differently ultimately.
I talked to Robert De Niro before I did it, as he had done it obviously really famously for Raging Bull where he put on about 27 kg. He said, ‘Well, the first 5kg is really fun, then you have to go to work after that.’
And it was true, almost, because I found the 14kg to be really fun.
Then towards the end, I was kind of like, ‘I should kind of get rid of this weight.’ But I wasn’t really that excited about getting rid of it.
You have worked with Steven multiple times. How does that make the job easier or change the way you approach it?
It makes it much, much easier to do. And I’ve been really lucky with the people that I’ve worked with.
I’ve worked with Steven much more than anyone. Then it was Paul Greengrass, Gus Van Sant and Francis Coppola. I could just repeat those four guys. And Clint Eastwood – I’m going back to work with him again. So, those five guys.
Was there anything that happened in your life where you had to do major bluffing and it worked out for better or worse?
Well, we work in the film business, so we’re on the highwire the whole time!
I think there’s an element where I feel like somebody’s going to show up and tell you that you’re not supposed to be in here making movies, and go get a job.
I definitely feel like the other shoe might drop at any time, and I’ve always felt that way.
Source: The Electric News Paper Show