Sunday With Matt Damon
The Downsizing star dishes on being a dad, difficult auditions and the secret under his wedding ring.
He’s one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in movies from
The Martian to the Bourne series. But this month, Matt Damon, 47, has never seemed so small. The actor squeezes into director Alexander Payne’s social satire
Downsizing (Dec. 22). He plays occupational therapist Paul Safranek, who—along with his wife, Audrey (Kristen Wiig)—is inspired to join a growing shrinking trend, which involves undergoing a procedure that makes people teeny, a movement meant to reduce their ecological impact while using their full-size bank accounts to live in luxury. In real life, Damon lives with his wife, Luciana Barroso, and four daughters (Stella, 7, Gia, 9, Isabella, 11, and stepdaughter Alexia, 18). He shares with Parade his feelings on the movie, childhood memories and marriage.
What are your favorite Sunday memories growing up?
My dad usually had us on the weekends, and he had a rule to always keep us moving. That was his one criteria for parenthood. So we never stopped. We would be playing football or baseball or basketball. He ran us into the ground. I have the best memories of playing sports with my brother and my dad every weekend.
What do you like to do on Sundays now?
Watch the New England Patriots win. That’s my ideal Sunday: on my couch, and the kids are there. The great thing about [living in] L.A. is those [games] happen at 10 in the morning, so usually the football game’s over, and you can get out and have a fun day with the kids.
How would you describe Downsizing?
It’s unlike any other movie I’ve ever seen, and that’s why I love it so much. I guess I’d say it’s a satire. It takes such a crazy left turn in the middle, and I really love that. I read something someone wrote about it the other day, which said something like, “I’ll give you a million dollars if, at the start of the movie, you can tell me where it’s gonna end.”
You shrink in the film. What would you miss most if you were suddenly really, really tiny?
I think I would miss the sense of security you get from having some mass to you. I think it would be horrifying to be five inches tall!
What’s a situation where, in real life, you’ve felt really small?
The experience of starting out as an actor comes with a lot of really humbling moments. I’ve been in auditions that haven’t gone particularly well, where you just feel demeaned. Even if the casting director isn’t trying to demean you, you can walk away feeling pretty, pretty small.
What is something small that means a great deal to you?
My wedding ring. My grandmother gave my mother her ring in her will. My grandfather didn’t have a lot of money, and the ring he gave her had these tiny, tiny little diamonds in them. They weren’t quality diamonds; it was what he could afford. But the marriage lasted. It wasn’t about the ring; it was about the marriage. They were married for over 60 years. When I told my mother that I was marrying Lucy, she gave me that ring. We took three of the diamonds and put them on the inside of my band, and three on the inside of her band. So they’re not visible, but we’re hopefully carrying the best part of that union with us.
Go to Parade.com/damon to find out who’s the funnier dinner guest—Damon or his famous friend George Clooney.