Welcome back to reddit, Matt!
For years, whenever I hear “Jason Bourne”, I immediately envision you pimp-slapping a trained, knife-wielding assassin with a magazine. What comes into your head immediately after you hear “Jason Bourne”?
Definitely pimp slapping a knife wielding assassin. That's kind of the first thing, you know--it has absolutely no relation to my actual life, but I get to do it when I play Jason Bourne. So you know I think the people who make these movies with me, and there's you know, a couple hundred of us and we've worked on these movies for years. We love this franchise as much as you guys do, so I think your question was funny but those moments of originality in those fight scenes, I mean that's kind of what we geek out on and we try to think of ways to incorporate that fun fighting style where Bourne is finding found objects and defending himself with them, and in many ways he's the opposite of James Bond. Where James Bond always has the right gadget, Jason Bourne never does, so he's got to just improvise.
Hi, Matt. I'm really looking forward to the new Bourne film.
My question: what does Julia Stiles smell like?
Hi Matt, huge fan of your work! My question is, would you ever consider teaming up with Ben Affleck again to write an original screenplay? Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite movies of all time, and that's due to the near-perfect writing.
Thank you. Good Will Hunting obviously is the most influential movie in my life, and in Ben's life, and bringing it to the screen kind of dominated our 20s. It took 5 years to get it from the time we started to the time it came out, it took 5 years. So I would love to write another script with Ben; I love Ben, I love his work, he's been my buddy for 35 years. The big issue is time for us. We have a company together so we work on a lot of projects together, but to try to carve out the time is really tough. I mean we both have a whole mess of kids now, and these other days jobs. He's directing all the time and I'm off working with these other directors. The thing about Good Will Hunting is that we were unemployed and we weren't writing the script on a deadline either. Nobody was expecting it, so we were just these two idiots in our basement writing this thing, and now we have all of these pressures of the lives grownups have. So I would never say never because I would absolutely love to write with Ben again, and I'd love to collaborate with him on anything, he's brilliant. I'd love to be in one of his movies that he directs. The problem there is that he just keeps giving himself the best roles, so until he stops doing that and maybe just directs, none of us can really work with him.
Hi, Matt! What was the process like of co-founding Water.org? Also, has George Clooney pulled any more pranks on you since your last AMA? Thanks for doing this AMA!
Thank you for the question. The experience of founding water.org. What really happened was once I Identified water and sanitation as the area that I wanted to focus on, and that was a whole process that Bono's group DATA was really helpful with. They organized a trip for me to study extreme poverty and I went to Africa for a couple of weeks and looked at all these different things. Water and sanitation was what really spoke to me, I felt like it understood everything and I really wanted to focus there. I think what a lot of people do, I just said I'll raise money for well projects, what we would call direct impact projects. I felt like with my name I could use whatever influence I had to direct money to good places. Then as I learned more and more about it and the deeply complex nature of the issues. I felt like I could maximize my impact more if I partnered with the preeminent expert in the space, somebody who I would be lucky to partner with, quite frankly. That's what led me to Gary White. I asked him and he said yes, the rest is history. That was in 2009. To date, actually we just got the numbers in recently, we have delivered water and sanitization solutions to 4.6 million people. That number is growing exponentially because of our system of water credit. It's using the concepts of micro-finance that Mohamed Eunice pioneered and applying them to the water sector. What's great about it is our loans are paying back at over 99% and that money just gets recycled. It's this virtuous circle. Rather than spending $25 to do a well project and give someone clean water for life, in our most mature loan programs we are down to about $5 per person. That system has driven down the philanthropic cost of capital per person substantially. Thank you for your question.
Hey Matt! You've been my favorite actor since the Bourne Identity. Can't wait for the new one.
That's a good question and I don't think there's a uniform answer. Now at this point of my career it's usually less about the script and more about who the director is, but in the case of a movie like The Martian I read the script and I thought it was incredible, but I also thought it was really risky because for my portion of the movie it was just going to be me up there, and when Drew Goddard who wrote the script backed out of directing it because he got another job there was no director attached, and so I just walked away from the script. I just said it's too risky, I wouldn't let just anybody did this. And then when Ridley Scott said that he liked it, the decision took me all half a second. So the script is obviously important, but it's more so about the director.
The ingredients of my ideal taco, oh my god. Fantastic question. My ideal taco is actually the taco I'm not supposed to have which is the taco we have on taco night at my house. It's the crunchy corn shell with the good meat, just ground beef in there. It's all about the layering. The meats gotta be hot, and the cheese goes on first so that it melts. And then you're gonna get in there with a little bit of tomato and lettuce but not too much cause it's not a salad, it's a taco, and then you're gonna throw some avocado on top and some sour cream and then a bunch of cholula. I don't know if you know what cholula hot sauce is but it's the best. Throw a bunch of cholula on there, maybe squeeze some lime on top, and go to town.
Are you looking forward to passing $1 Trillion spent on saving you in movies? http://www.eonline.com/news/726732/this-is-how-much-money-has-been-spent-saving-matt-damon
Yeah, so that article was sent to me. I might be the first person for whom a trillion movie dollars was spent to rescue, so obviously that will be a milestone, and I am actively looking for projects that could cost people money trying to come get me. Thank you.
I think a big Reddit party would be the way to go.
Hi Mr. Damon what is the best thing a director can do for you on set?
I think the best thing a director can do is create an environment, a really open and free environment, and I have to say that I worked with some of the best directors on the planet, and they all do it differently, but the one quality that they all share is that the great ones all create a really highly collaborative environment where it's basically a battlefield of ideas. The ego is completely checked at the door, so they don't show up with this is the way it's going to go. I mean director is kind of the wrong word for what they're doing. They don't say I'm directing you to do this and this is the only way it's going to go. They show up with an idea that is their best idea, and then they're open to everybody else's idea and then they're willing to instantly jettison their own idea if faced with a better one. So they're essentially the arbiter of taste, but they create an environment where everyone feels free to lob ideas at them, and that's how people start iterating on each other's ideas and that's collaboration, the best ideas emerges.
It's been interesting to me over 20 years to look at these master directors, the people who would be commonly perceived as master directors and realize they're allegiance is to what they're making and not their own ego.
The Bourne movies are easily my favourite series of movies ever. Were you reluctant to do a fourth or was it an easy decision?
Also, you're my favourite actor and my mom is in love with you, just so you know.
Thank you, and I'm glad I'm your favorite actor. You have my favorite user name of anybody I've ever seen. It was an easy decision. Once Paul Greengrass said he wanted to do it, I was in, but we didn't have a story. I mean it was nine years in the making because we didn't want to force it if it wasn't there, and so once we realized it was there we all jumped on board, but before that it was an agonizing process as we tried to figure out if there even was a story to tell.
What's the most challenging role you've ever had?
I think the most challenging role that I've ever had, was when I did Courage Under Fire and I had to lose all the weight that I lost on my own, that was the most physically challenging did I've ever had to do in my life. I weigh probably 190 pounds right now, and I weighed 139 in that movie, and that is not a natural weight for me and not a happy weight for me even when I was 25. So you know to do that I had to run about 13 miles a day which wasn't even the hard part. The hard part was the diet, all I ate was chicken breast. It's not like I had a chef or anything, I just made it up and did what I thought I had to do. I just made it up and that was incredibly challenging.
Hello, Matt. Are there any skills or trades that you learned while preparing for your early roles that you can still do well today?
That's a great question. The thing about acting is often time what happens is you end up being a jack of all trades and a master of none. So I've had to learn things for the Bourne films for instance, like being upside down underwater in a car which required me to learn. I went to a swimming pool in Berlin everyday after work and practiced being at the bottom with a scuba tank, getting my air taken away, and tying shoes and doing small menial activities without my air in order to be comfortable underwater so I could shoot that scene. I didn't walk away being certified as a scuba diver which would probably be a better use of my time, but I walked away being able to be in a car underwater and perform the scene I needed to performed, so it's an odd set of skills you end up learning. Though I did for the Bourne movies start boxing and I never did that before, I was 29 and I fell in love with doing it. I never did it as a sport. I wouldn't put me as a ring against anyone. I'm an excellent movie fighter, probably wouldn't be in a real fight.
Thanks for doing another AMA, I’m a big fan! I have two questions:
How did your cameo as the punk rock singer in the film “Euro Trip” come about?
Out of all the films where you had to rescued (Saving Private Ryan, Interstellar, and The Martian), which one is your personal favorite?
So EuroTrip was written by three guys I went to college with, Alec Shaffer, Jeff Berg, and Dave Mandell. And the three of them are three of the best comedy writers in the world. In fact, Alec and Jeff when we moved out to LA, we had this running joke where we had one bottle of champagne that I think they sent to us when we sold Good Will Hunting, or no, we sent it to them first because they had been hired on Seinfeld, so we would pass this bottle back and forth, we never opened it, but it was just to congratulate each other at these milestone moments in our careers. So we kind of came up together. I was in Prague shooting The Brothers Grimm, we were in rehearsals, and I had a wig in that movie, and so Alec and Dave and Jeff were making EuroTrip and they said "Will you come play this, you know, Howard Rollins kind of insane, bad version of a suburban, you know, punk band guy?" And I said "Yea, I'm in Prague". So I showed up and I'm sitting there, and I'm like "I'm wearing a wig, just shave my head, let’s just go for it." and we did it, and put a bunch of piercings all over. And "Scotty Doesn't Know", the song, was actually written by one of my college roommates brothers, and in the band, one of my college roommates is actually in that back up band, Jason, is playing guitar in that group. So it was kind of a family affair.
It's tough to choose, like between films you've been in. I don't think I'm the best objective judge of any of those films. I mean Private Ryan was obviously the most significant in my life because it was right when my career was starting and it came out right after Good Will Hunting, and it did a lot to kind of position me, you know, as an actor that a studio would take a chance on. So that was probably the most influential on my life. I haven't seen the movie in a long time, I remember loving it and being deeply grateful that I was in it, and thinking that Steven was really at the top of his game, as was Tom. So that movie was always, you know I think of Interstellar and The Martian as things I made in my 40s. My life is very different, so I almost couldn't categorize those three movies. I wouldn't put them into the same basket.
Hey Matt! Thanks for doing this AMA.
I'm a big fan of the films you have starred in, and I was wondering, out of all of your movies, who has been your favourite actor/actress to work alongside?
That's a really tough question because I've worked with so many really wonderful people, people who I admire a lot and become friends with. Choosing one would be really tough but I have to say, going back in my career, Casey Affleck is one of the best actors that I've ever seen in my life. Growing up with him, he's 5 years younger than me, he's kind of like a little brother to me, but watching his work develop over the years has been really fun. There's a movie that I produced that's coming out called Manchester by the Sea. I'm as proud of that as anything I've ever been a part of. Casey is the lead in that movie, Kenny Lonergan directed it, and Casey is absolutely brilliant in that movie. I'm really proud to see what the world thinks of this movie, it's a beautiful little movie.
What was your first thought when told about your "involvement" in Team America??
Best of luck with the new film.
Thank you! I was always kind of bewildered by Team America, I think because it's hard for us to understand what our images are in public, I think we're not good judges of that, and when I saw myself on screen just only able to say my own name and not really that well, I kind of wondered "Wow, is that how people perceive me?" At that point I just kind of was like, I'm a screenwriter and an actor, and like really? I can barely say my own name? So I was always bewildered by that, and I never talked to Trey and Matt about that. And Incidentally, I believe those two are geniuses, and I don't use that word lightly. I think they are absolute geniuses, and what they've done is awesome and I'm a big fan of theirs, but I never quite understood that one. But I will say this. Those of us who were parodied in that video were parodied because we were against the Iraq war, and we went on the record against that war, and so history is on my side not theirs.
Hey Matt. Big fan of your movies, especially the Martian. The setting for that movie worked really nicely with your acting style. I'm curious, do you have any interest in video games? If so which ones? I know a video game I'm development that features a very similar setting to The Martian and seems like a perfect fit for you. It's called ROKH. Have you ever considered working with video games as a voice actor/motion capture? Would be really neat! Definitely worth taking a look at.
I've never been approached to do that, I'd totally be into it. I'm really interested to see where entertainment heads as these video games, the graphic are getting so good, and VR is getting so good, and you know, what's going to happen to movies? What are the implications for movies, and does this morph into a new kind of story telling, and what is that, and can I be a part of it? You know, ultimately those of us who make movies are storytellers and we want to gather you around and tell you stories. If gaming is the way to do that I'm all for looking into it, but nobody has asked me as of yet.
What was it like working with Robin on Good Will Hunting?
First of all, why does your costume look like it cost more then mine in the martian? That's an awesome costume and I agree you do. I'm glad that I make halloween easier for you. Working with Robin almost defies description. He was one of the most generous, loving, wonderful people I've ever met. He had this capacity that I've never seen on a movie set. When everyone started to get tired and started to flag a little bit, he would launch into standup. We knew it was original because he was making fun of crew members and pulling them into these bits. It was like 15 minutes of the best stand-up ever that was just privately for us. Everyone would laugh and laugh and laugh and then everybody would get this boost of energy and go back to work. I'll never be able to thank him enough for what he gave us. In my heart, that's where he is, as this person that I'm deeply deeply grateful came into my life and changed it for the better.
What is the best advice you've been given?
I think the best advice I was given--well, I'd say two things. When I was younger, everybody told me not to be an actor, and to this day I say that to people who come up to me and say "I'm thinking of going into acting, what do you think?" I say "Absolutely not, it's a terrible idea, don't do it." because that's what everybody said to me, and I think that if you're gonna make it in this business that is so full of rejection and hardship, you need to believe in yourself despite what everybody you love and trust tells you. And it's a very personal journey, so that was very helpful. I think, you know, the advice to stay away from this career was really helpful in my own understanding that it was that important that I pursue it. The other advice that I would say, my high school acting teacher Gerry Speca had a huge influence on me and Ben and Casey. Five words he said "Just do your work, kid." and he repeated that so many times to me "Just do your work, kid." and that is kind of what I can always retreat to. That's my touchstone if, when in doubt, just focus on my work. If everything on the movie is going wrong, alright, I'll make sure that my work is tight and go from there. And that's a great place to base from, and that's a good foundation.
Hi Matt! What was your favorite show as a kid?
My favorite show as a kid was Chips, I loved Erik Estrada, Ponch and John, you know. I used to get on my bike, and my mother actually sewed blue lines down a pair of chinos that I had so that I could have the tan pants with the blue lines that the California highway patrol, and get on my Huffy and ride around the neighborhood.
Is a hot dog a sandwich?
I've never considered a hot dog a sandwich because a hot dog is a hot dog. I mean technically it comes between 2 pieces of bread or one fold it into two, so I guess you can classify it as a sandwich. Then what would you call it, a hot dog sandwich? That's like a hat on a hat so let’s just keep it as a hot dog.
Who would win a battle to death, you or Ben Affleck?
I think the answer to that is clear and I'll let you fill in the blanks.