MY Mar­riage is a work in progress

The nice guy of Hol­ly­wood talks prank­ing co-stars and why he won’t let his kids watch his films

Heat (UK) - - Interview -

You get the im­pres­sion that when Matt Da­mon does some­thing, he does that thing. No half­sies for Matt – this is a man who’s all in, or not in at all, dammit. And whether that means writ­ing, pro­duc­ing, screen­writ­ing, los­ing 4st for a movie or even rais­ing four daugh­ters with his wife of 12 years, Lu­ciana, this is a man who com­mits to things. Matt’s lat­est film, black com­edy Subur­bicon, is no ex­cep­tion.

The 47-year-old ac­tor ac­tu­ally gained weight to play the role of mid­dle-aged wid­ower Gard­ner Lodge, and aban­doned his usual nice-guy shtick for a char­ac­ter who very much em­braces his vi­o­lent side – in­clud­ing one bloody scene fea­tur­ing a, erm, sand­wich – as he bat­tles mob­sters in a small Philadel­phia sub­urb. Writ­ten by the Coen broth­ers, di­rected by his good friend and fel­low A-lis­ter Ge­orge Clooney, and co-star­ring Ju­lianne Moore and Os­car Isaac, the film is set to make Matt a hot tip for next year’s Os­cars. Here, he talks about fi­nally play­ing the bad guy, how he’s still so hap­pily mar­ried, and get­ting back to the gym – much to the re­lief of his wife…

You’re known as the good guy – what’s it like play­ing a vil­lain?

It was re­ally fun and lib­er­at­ing, so dif­fer­ent from any­thing that I’ve ever been able to do. Ge­orge Clooney and I would get a kick out of ev­ery scene that was worse than the last. Un­til fi­nally, I’m at the ta­ble with [my co-star] and the sand­wich. It was re­ally en­joy­able. So, ob­vi­ously, I didn’t take the work home with me.

Not one for your kids, then?

My chil­dren [Alexia, 19, Is­abella, 11, Gia, nine, Stella, seven] are not see­ing this film! This char­ac­ter makes dif­fer­ent par­ent­ing choices than I make in my own pri­vate life, and I don’t want to scare them. I’d like them to eat all the sand­wiches that I put in front of them.

What about your wife – was she al­lowed to see it?

She loved it. It’s ob­vi­ously a very dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter than I’ve ever played be­fore, or have been given the chance to play. So I had a lot of fun with that. It’s very dif­fer­ent from how I am in my ev­ery­day life, so she en­joyed it, def­i­nitely.

We bet she likes your sand­wiches…

First of all, I got re­ally lucky. I think so much of it is who you choose to be with. I’ve al­ways said that the con­cept of mar­riage seems to­tally in­sane to me. But I just love be­ing mar­ried to my wife. So in that way, I was re­ally lucky to find her. But yes, there is work. It is a work in progress and I think that we lis­ten to each other and com­mu­ni­cate re­ally well. We are will­ing to do the work that it takes. We both still want to be there, and that helps, ob­vi­ously. We have a lot of fun to­gether. So, Matt, you look quite, erm, dif­fer­ent in Subur­bicon… I put on weight. I was a lot big­ger in the movie, and so that was kind of a run­ning joke. I think [Lu­ciana] was happy when I fi­nally wrapped and went back to the gym. Tell us what it was like work­ing on set with your mate, Mr Clooney… It was very re­laxed. I vis­ited Ge­orge on the first set that he di­rected, which was Con­fes­sions Of A Dan­ger­ous Mind, and even back then the mood was just very re­laxed. We all be­lieve that’s the best way to get the best work, when every­one is re­laxed and given space to do their work. We all have a job to do and we are aware of the job, but there is no rea­son at this point in our ca­reers why it can’t be a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence. Ge­orge was re­ally good at cre­at­ing a good space for every­one to get their work done. So, no on-set pranks, then? I was never a great prankster. On

‘Trump’s pres­i­dency? I’m just try­ing to get through it’

Good Will Hunt­ing, Ben [Af­fleck], me, and [di­rec­tor] Gus Van Sant hired some­body to come in and ac­cuse the pro­ducer, Chris Moore, of some­thing. We were all at lunch and it was his birth­day, so we hired this ac­tress and she came in cry­ing and started yelling at him about how he was mean to her, and all this other stuff she made up on the spot. He just kept say­ing, “I don’t know what’s go­ing on.” Then we had the po­lice who worked on the set come in and start to hand­cuff him. Mean­while, we were tak­ing pic­tures the en­tire time, and then we let him know it was all a joke and we brought out a cake. That was prob­a­bly my best prank.

Are you sure Ge­orge wasn’t prank­ing you with that scene in Subur­bicon where you ride a tiny bike around?

I had to throw my knees out to the side – it was pretty chal­leng­ing! They had a few of the bikes there, and we were go­ing to test out which one. I fi­nally got on the one we used and Ge­orge just dou­bled over laugh­ing and said, “That’s the one, that’s the one.”

They say never work with chil­dren – how did you get on with your char­ac­ter’s son, 13-year-old Noah Jupe?

He’s in­cred­i­ble. I’ve worked with a lot of kid ac­tors, and nor­mally what hap­pens – more of­ten than not – it’s the par­ents liv­ing their own dreams through the kids and the kids don’t re­ally want to be there. Noah wanted to be there, and he re­ally loves it. He’s a nat­u­rally tal­ented kid . There is a scene at the end when he’s sit­ting there cry­ing, look­ing at me with tears rolling down his face. At the end of the take, when Ge­orge said “cut”, he just smiled and high-fived him. He re­ally got it, and it was fun watch­ing him. Ge­orge had built in ex­tra time to

work with him, as­sum­ing that we would need more time. Any­time you have a child on set, you want to have enough time to get the scene the way you want it. And Noah would get ev­ery­thing in one take. We’d all be go­ing home early ev­ery day. You’ve been pretty vo­cal about dis­lik­ing Pres­i­dent Trump – how are you feel­ing about him now? There was a num­ber of times I thought his can­di­dacy would be de­railed. But we’re just liv­ing in a dif­fer­ent time. The “grab them by the pussy” com­ments… You are ad­mit­ting that you are a sex­ual preda­tor! For me, it’s just about try­ing to get through this pres­i­dency with­out this be­hav­iour be­com­ing nor­malised. Be­cause we have to re­turn to our sense of de­cency, we have to have a sense of shame. I don’t know how to raise chil­dren in the face of that kind of boor­ish­ness com­ing out of the White House. I just ig­nore it for now. The kids are young and aren’t read­ing ev­ery news cy­cle yet. But my 19 year old is and we have dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tions. Roger Ailes, Bill O’reilly [dis­graced Fox News chair­man and host] and now Har­vey [We­in­stein, who Matt’s pre­vi­ously worked for]. Do you think things will change in Hol­ly­wood, post-we­in­stein? Hope­fully this is like a se­ries of domi­noes that will fall. I am hop­ing that the world I’m rais­ing these girls to come into will be one in which you have a lot more women in po­si­tions of power and hope­fully that will hap­pen be­fore my kids are adults. But if it doesn’t, then my kids will be the wave that put women in power. Be­cause we just need more women in these po­si­tions. I have a good feel­ing that they’d use that power quite dif­fer­ently. It’s tough. Sit­u­a­tions like the ones we’ve been read­ing about in the news with Har­vey, I don’t know how you pro­tect some­body from that. It’s tough. A lot of these women did ev­ery­thing right – they were pur­su­ing their ca­reers, they were do­ing ev­ery­thing pro­fes­sion­ally and wound up in these sit­u­a­tions where they got pulled into a meet­ing, and then sud­denly they were trapped in a room with a mon­ster. So that’s a fear, I think, for any par­ent, or brother or friend of any woman. Day-to-day, you just try to in­stil your kids with self-es­teem, be­cause you’re not go­ing to be there when they are mak­ing a lot of choices. And you want them to be able to make good choices. But again, a sit­u­a­tion like that is the worst-case sce­nario. It’s def­i­nitely not just a Hol­ly­wood prob­lem, it’s a prob­lem across all dif­fer­ent sec­tors – it’s a prob­lem across a cul­ture and it looks like we are wak­ing up to it and get­ting ready to tackle it head-on, which is long over­due. ■

Subur­bicon is in cin­e­mas 24 Novem­ber

Win­ning big in In­vic­tus Look­ing tubby in

Subur­bicon with Ju­lianne Moore

Matt and the main ladies in his life

Find­ing fame with Ben Af­fleck in Good Will Hunt­ing

Hang­ing out with the lads in Ocean’s Eleven Small cap­tion to go in here Nail­ing the ac­tion-man role as Ja­son Bourne

With his wife Lu­ciana

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