Damon buffs up
IT’S just a day or two after the Boston bombings and Matt Damon, a Boston native, is finding it all a bit hard to comprehend. “It’s completely crazy and horrible,” he says, as sits at a table, frappuccino in hand.
All in all, however, Damon is in good spirits. Only a couple of weeks earlier, he had renewed vows with his wife of eight years, Luciana Barroso, in the Caribbean. And just last night perhaps a clue as to why he’s clutching that caffeine he’d danced the night away with Luciana, Channing Tatum and “a lot of tequila”.
He’s here to spruik his new film, Elysium, a sci- fi actioner that could be termed a departure for Damon had he not already played, among so many other things, a super- spy with amnesia, Liberace’s gay lover, Liz Lemon’s pilot lover and the captain of the South African rugby team.
As Elysium director Neill Blomkamp puts it, Damon is an actor unafraid to “damage his brand”.
“I never thought of it that way,” says Damon, sporting black- rimmed glasses and salt- andpepper hair to rival that of his old mate, George Clooney.
“It’s so hard to break into the business that an easy trap to fall into is when you actually get some measure of success, you don’t want it to go away. The only way, of course, to make sure it doesn’t go away is to keep risking it.
“It’s impossible to micromanage an image, it’s impossible to control your career. So it was always just a matter of trying as many varied types of projects as I could.”
It’s impossible to micromanage an image, it’s impossible to control your career. So it was always just a matter of trying as many varied types of projects as I could
Which is how Damon came to find himself, head shaven, tattooed and bolted into an elaborate exoskeleton in the world’s second- largest rubbish dump, outside Mexico City.
Blomkamp, wunderkind director of 2009 sci- fi breakout District 9, transformed Damon into Max, an ex- con in a future world where the rich elite live on a space station called Elysium and the poor are left in squalor on Earth.
When Max is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation, his only hope for a cure is to fight his way into Elysium.
“I was desperate to do it,” says Damon, recalling his first meeting with Blomkamp.
“He came with almost a school yearbook-sized hardback book with probably 80 pictures in it – Max in the suit and all that. Every single thing was incredible detail. He had another separate book of weapons systems. It’s stuff that you’ll see for only a second in the movie, but he literally built this entire world.
“The only other time I’d seen that was Jim Cameron on Avatar, and I couldn’t do Avatar because of scheduling. Jim was like, ‘ Well the script is the script, but here look at the world!’ and you go, ‘ Oh, my god!’ “So, I wasn’t gonna miss this one,” he laughs. While Damon has pretty much been able to pick and choose since the first Bourne film struck gold in 2002, he reckons it’s only now, at 42, that he’s struck Hollywood’s “sweet spot”. “A lot of the stuff out there tends to be written for men around my age. So, hopefully, the roles will get better.” He had hoped to direct his first film ( Promised Land, which he wrote with John Krasinski) last year before scheduling got in the way. He says family life has, if not changed his ambitions, at least “changed practically what I can and can’t do”.
He and Luciana oversee a brood of four girls, ranging in age from two to 14.
“My wife’s great, she wants to facilitate if a good job comes along, we’ll take the family on an adventure and go somewhere and live there. She loves to travel and our kids feel the best when we’re all together that’s what home is to them, when the six of us are together.”
But he reckons the girls have been on enough movie sets to demystify the business.
“They’re like, ‘ He’s a movie star?’ Yes, Uncle George is a movie star, believe it or not.” Elysium opens at Village Cinemas on Thursday
READY FOR ACTION: Matt Damon stars in sci- fi epic Elysium.