Matt Damon Career Milestones

Matt Damon Career Milestones

Birth Name: Matthew Paige Damon
Birth Date: October 8, 1970
Birth Place: Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Matt Damon has been honored for his work on both sides of the camera, most recently earning Academy Award® and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nominations, for Best Supporting Actor, for his portrayal of South African rugby hero Francois Pienaar in Clint Eastwood’s true-life drama Invictus.

In addition, he garnered dual Golden Globe Award nominations in 2010: for Best Supporting Actor for Invictus; and for Best Actor for his performance in Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! Earlier in his career, Damon won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay and received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, both for his breakthrough feature Good Will Hunting.

Earlier this year, Damon starred in director Steven Soderbergh’s thriller Contagion; in Kenneth Lonergan’s drama Margaret. He also lends his voice to the animated feature Happy Feet Two, directed by George Miller.

Earlier this year, Damon starred in George Nolfi’s thriller The Adjustment Bureau. In 2010, he starred in the Coen brothers’ Oscar-nominated remake of the classic Western True Grit, Clint Eastwood’s drama Hereafter, and the action thriller Green Zone for director Paul Greengrass.

He had previously starred under Greengrass’s direction in The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Damon originated the title role of Jason Bourne in Doug Liman’s 2002 action blockbuster The Bourne Identity.

His other recent film credits include Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning Best Picture The Departed, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg; Robert De Niro’s dramatic thriller The Good Shepherd, with De Niro and Angelina Jolie; and Stephen Gaghan’s geopolitical thriller Syriana, with George Clooney. Damon also teamed with Clooney and Brad Pitt as part of the all-star casts of Soderbergh’s heist comedy hit Ocean’s Eleven, and its sequels, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen.

For the small screen, Damon both executive produced and appeared in the History Channel project The People Speak, based on a book co-written by historian Howard Zinn and featuring dramatic readings and performances from some of the most famous names in the entertainment industry.

Hailing from Boston, Damon attended Harvard University and gained his first acting experience with the American Repertory Theatre. He made his feature film debut in Mystic Pizza, followed by roles in School Ties, Walter Hill’s Geronimo: An American Legend, and the cable projects Rising Son and Tommy Lee Jones’ The Good Old Boys. Damon first gained attention with his portrayal of a guilt-ridden Gulf War veteran in 1996’s Courage Under Fire.

Together with his lifelong friend Ben Affleck, Damon co-wrote the acclaimed 1997 drama Good Will Hunting, for which they won an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award, as well as several critics groups awards for Best Original Screenplay. Damon also garnered Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations, in addition to his Oscar nomination, for Best Actor. Additionally in 1997, Damon starred in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rainmaker and appeared in Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy.

The following year, Damon played the title role in Steven Spielberg’s award-winning World War II drama Saving Private Ryan, and also starred in John Dahl’s drama Rounders, with Edward Norton. Damon earned his third Golden Globe nomination for his performance in 1999’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, directed by Anthony Minghella. Damon’s subsequent film credits include Kevin Smith’s Dogma, with Affleck, Robert Redford’s The Legend of Bagger Vance, Billy Bob Thornton’s All the Pretty Horses, the Farrelly brothers’ comedy Stuck on You, Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm, and George Clooney’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

Damon and Affleck formed the production company LivePlanet, which produced three Emmy-nominated seasons of Project Greenlight, chronicling the making of independent films by first-time writers and directors. The Project Greenlight films produced include Stolen Summer, The Battle of Shaker Heights and Feast. LivePlanet also produced the documentary Running the Sahara, directed by Oscar winner James Moll. In addition, Damon is the co-founder of Water.org and a founder of Not On Our Watch.

We Bought a Zoo and visual palette

We Bought a Zoo and Visual Palette

Russell Crowe reunites with several key regular members of his behind the scenes team, including production designer Clay Griffith and editor Mark Livolsi, A.C.E. New to Cameron’s team are director of photography Rodrigo Prieto, ASC/AMC and costume designer Deborah L. Scott.

Griffith notes that Crowe’s visual palette for WE BOUGHT A ZOO was inspired by the Neil Young Harvest album, the 2007 Sigur Rós documentary, Heima, and the aforementioned Bill Forsythe film, Local Hero. “The connective tissue between those three works is that they have soul,” notes Griffith. “Cameron always likes to find the poetry in things.”

Over the years, Crowe and Griffith have developed a close working relationship and design shorthand. Griffith recalls that he would show Crowe images that would evoke thoughts and feelings they could bring into the set. “Cameron would counter with another photograph, so we had this kind of visual and verbal dialogue.”

We Bought A Zoo also marks the first collaboration between Crowe and costume designer Deborah L. Scott, whose many credits include E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future, Titanic and Avatar. Scott notes that Benjamin is an “everyman figure, so with him there’s nothing that’s too fashionable. It’s just basic, functional ‘man clothes’ – he’s a real guy’s guy.”

For Scarlett Johansson’s Kelly Foster, Scott went for a modern day extension of legendary animal researchers and naturalists Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. “Those women brought enormous sensitivity and femininity and warmth to the environment. When I looked at pictures of Jane Goodall and how beautiful she was, it just struck a chord.”

We Bought a Zoo and Visual Palette

Scott also designed clothing for Crystal, the capuchin monkey and sidekick to zookeeper Robin Jones. “I might have done something for a dog or cat on a movie, but never for a monkey,” she laughs. “It came as a little bit of a surprise. Crystal was pretty amazing. Once I got the basic pattern down, she would stand there and you’d hold the little pants out and she’d step in just like a small child. It was easy. And no backtalk!”

WE BOUGHT A ZOO was filmed on locations around Los Angeles before moving 30 miles north to Greenfield Ranch in Thousand Oaks, where the Rosemoor Animal Park set was constructed. The completed zoo contained animal enclosures, walking paths, water features, diverse flora and fauna, an observation tower, a sculpture garden, and an amphitheater.

The Rosemoor Animal Park sets took nine months to design and build. The excavation and construction occurred over a four-month period, taking the combined efforts of over 140 carpenters, painters, prop makers, plasterers, sculptors, sign makers, and landscapers, along with the art department staff of art directors, set designers, and set decorators.

The Mee Family home, a 4,000 square foot, two-story, American Colonial farmhouse, painted in Cape Cod Gray, was the only residential structure built from scratch at the Greenfield Ranch location. Griffith says that aside from building the zoo, the farmhouse was the most enjoyable part of his job. “There’s something viscerally exciting about building a house from the ground up,” he relates. “What I really found interesting what the house’s size, its relation to its setting, the age of the trees, and the big, pastoral landscape behind it. You’re definitely in another world.”

Finding the spot on the sprawling property to erect the eight-acre zoo was a challenge. When the property was first scouted there was no road leading to the eventual site. (Griffith recalls it was just “five foot tall grass and rattlesnakes.”) But from a specific perspective, the area looked like Dartmoor Zoo, the real-life zoo purchased by Benjamin Mee.

Once Griffith began his design work for the zoo, he and his art directors met with animal coordinator Mark Forbes to determine and coordinate the placement of the animal enclosures. He recalls Forbes telling him, “Don’t put the tigers near the bears. Don’t let the lions and the tigers see each other. And don’t ever, ever, ever let the lion, tigers and bears see any of the hoofed animals. “I told Mark, ‘Great, you just spread the zoo out everywhere,” Griffith laughs. ‘I can’t have anything that’s even remotely near each other.’ But it worked out really well, although we spent an exorbitant amount of time plotting out where each specific enclosure would go.”

Griffith and his team did extensive research on what each enclosure would need to house its respective animal. “We looked at small zoos and large zoos,” he says. “We talked to people from the LA County Zoo, the Orange County Zoo, and the Tucson Zoo, where my art director spent a week looking at their operations. Part of what Cameron wanted to do was show what it’s really like to be behind the scenes at a zoo.”

Overseeing the exotic and domesticated animals featured in the film, is veteran animal coordinator, Mark Forbes, whose company Birds & Animals Unlimited has provided and trained animals for many productions. Forbes and a team of 30 specialized animal trainers worked with the nearly 75 animals featured in the film, including an African Lion, Bengal Tigers, North American Grizzly Bears, White-Backed Vultures, White-Faced Capuchins, Hamadryas Baboons, Eurasian Eagle-Owls, Crested Porcupines, Asian Small-Clawed Otters, a Binturong, Grevy’s Zebras, Ostriches, Chilean Flamingos, Indian Blue Peacocks, Peahens, a Zebu, Dromedary Camels, Alpacas, a Kangaroo, a Leopard, a Red Fox, and a Scarlet Macaw.

During production, the zoo animals were not kept in the enclosures at the zoo set. Instead, they were brought in on a daily basis as needed. The animals were all housed with their respective owners and trainers and various animal compounds in the Southern California area.

Read full production notes for We Bought a Zoo >>

The Art of Politics

The Art of Politics

The production was able to leverage Matt Damon’s celebrity to further the authenticity of David Norris’ life in The Adjustment Bureau. During the shoot, Damon was asked to take part in President Clinton’s Global Initiative.

Recounts Hackett: “We had the idea, and the Clinton people thought it was fine, that Matt would go in wardrobe as David Norris, who would logically be at this type of an event. We could get him interacting with President Clinton and other heads of state.” A skeleton crew, led by cinematog – rapher John Toll, was granted the security clearances necessary to follow Damon around the event documentary- style, while producer Moore worked to persuade other world leaders and politicians to appear in the film as well.

The key crew even had a fortuitous encounter with President Obama’s advance team at The Waldorf Astoria hotel during the first week of shooting, and it secured some bonus technical advice as it prepared to shoot the concession speech scene. Key learning? Lose a Lucite podium in favor of a more traditional one.

Damon’s publicity tour stops to promote The Informant! also benefited The Adjustment Bureau. The Informant! was being released just as production began, and so Damon’s appearance on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart became another opportunity to shoot a campaign-stumping scene for David.

“The way people react to Matt Damon is not unlike how they would react to a celebrity politician,” says Hackett. “We used that overlap to our advantage. He can walk down the streets of New York and people recognize him and camera phones come out. But that was value for the movie because, again, they are reacting to Matt Damon, not dissimilar to how we would like them to be reacting to the character of David Norris.”

Another aspect of this character that plays well into Damon’s filmic experience is the physicality of stunts. Much like the tireless athlete Jason Bourne, David Norris finds himself literally outrunning Fate.

“There are a number of corridors and stairwells, lobbies and elevator banks in this film,” states production designer Kevin Thompson. As David navigates Manhattan, eluding agents and eventually making a final dash into the heart of The Bureau itself, he is running for his life.

As an actor who enjoys performing his own stunts, Damon had athletic ability to spare while playing Norris. But that was occasionally frustrating to the Ginger Rogers to his Fred Astaire. “Matt’s a good runner. He’s fast, annoyingly fast,” laughs Emily Blunt, who was forced to keep up with him while she wore flats for many of her character’s chase scenes with David.

Perhaps the only element in the film that seems to be a departure from Damon’s prior acting roles is the love story. “This is the most romantic lead I’ve ever had,” admits Damon. “It was definitely new territory.”

Related Link: Read the Full Productions for The Adjustment Bureau

The Art of Dance

The Art of Dance

From the beginning of principal photography of The Adjustment Bureau, Emily Blunt was upfront about her lack of formal dance training. “I was honest. I’ve never danced in my life,” she says. “I met George, and I said, ‘I’ll work my ass off for you if you let me do this.’”

The performer immediately asked to meet with the film’s choreographer, BENOIT-SWAN POUFFER, from Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, which would become the actual company that Nolfi wrote into the film’s script.

Founded in 2003 by Nancy Laurie and artistically directed by Pouffer, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet of New York City has a core group of 16 dancers, and it emphasizes acquiring and commissioning new works by the world’s most sought-after, emerging choreographers. With performances often incorporating multimedia presentations, Cedar Lake is known for its daring, athletic movements and its integration of ballet into contemporary and popular forms.

When Nolfi approached Pouffer to have his company involved in the film, Nolfi discussed a female dancer in the role of Elise. Remembers Pouffer of his earlier conversations with Nolfi: “I said, ‘Okay, but make sure that it is a dancer because I’ve seen many movies fail because it’s difficult to show how a dancer is.’ Then a month later they said, ‘We found the actress: Emily Blunt.’ I said, ‘She’s not a dancer. What are we going to do?’ But it’s been such a pleasure. Emily came in full-force, and I felt that she wanted to get the style and the behaviors; she’s done an amazing job.”

Pouffer’s objective was never to make Blunt a trained dancer. He felt the best way to approach teaching a non-dancer to perform would be to draw the parallel to her acting skills. “I was here to explain to her that some dancing is not necessarily done by dancers. It’s movement and understanding phrasing and theatricality when you dance,” the choreographer explains. “It’s like learning dialogue, learning a script.”

In fact, he used the emotional tones of the screenplay to inform his choreography for Elise’s numbers. “The solo scene was interesting to work with Emily because it’s a moment where she’s asking herself some questions,” he says. “She’s going through something. So we had to, movement-wise, express the step of anxiety.” Throughout all the training, Blunt was game for the ideas her instructor aimed to execute through her movements. “Emily’s special,” Pouffer comments. “She’s strong. She’s not scared.”

Producer Carraro, who had recently worked with Blunt in London on The Wolfman, was confident that she had the work ethic and athletic ability to take on the challenge. Still, the prospect of training to become Elise was ini – tially intimidating for Blunt, who not only had to achieve the pre – cision and form of a professional dancer on screen, but also didn’t want to disappoint the Cedar Lake professionals whom she would be rep resenting. With Pouffer instruct – ing her on dance and a personal trainer working her out for hours a day, six days a week, Blunt began an entire lifestyle overhaul that transformed her body into that of a dancer’s.

“The training was unreal. I hurt every day. It’s one thing to say, ‘I’ll do it for you,’ but it’s another thing to actually do it,” Blunt says of her promise to Nolfi. “It was hell to learn at first, and then it became invigorating, and one of the biggest, life-expanding experiences I’ve ever had.”

Moore notes that since Blunt was cast in late July 2009 and the film began shooting in New York in September, she didn’t have many months to train. Though the performer did work with body doubles, and films have the luxury of shooting at specific angles and cutting around talent in postproduction, many of the cast and crew admit that Blunt rarely relied on visual crutches to express her character in motion.

Remembers Nolfi: “Emily came out here a couple months before production and she was dancing five or six days a week and working out, taking it seriously on the physical performance level.” The director also stresses that Blunt was not learning simply standard ballet techniques. “It’s ballet-based contemporary dance, so it doesn’t look like your mother’s or father’s ballet. It looks like modern dance, and it is set to modern music; you couldn’t possibly do this dance without a lot of ballet training.”

Her co-star agrees with his director’s assessment. “I’m normally the actor who ends up having to do a boatload of training for things,” says Damon. “On this one, I just sat back and watched Emily; she was just so great and utterly believable.”

Related Link: Read the Full Productions for The Adjustment Bureau

‘Contagion’ tops the box office

'Contagion' tops the box office

The thriller starring Matt Damon knocks “The Help” out of first place for the first time in three weeks.

“Contagion” infected enough moviegoers to catch the top spot at the box office. The Warner Bros. pandemic thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring an A-list cast that includes Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow coughed up $23.1 million in its first weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The film’s contagious opening marked the beginning of the fall movie season by exceeding the studio’s estimates. “I think Steven Soderbergh made a compelling movie that tapped into that fear that many of us have about illnesses, viruses and pandemics,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. general sales manager. “It’s like a train or car accident. You can’t look away. You prefer not to think about it, but when it’s presented to you, you want to learn more.”

Despite the breakout success of “Contagion,” it was the lowest grossing weekend of the year so far for the film industry, according to Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. Dergarabedian said that’s typical for the weekend after Labor Day and expected business to pick up in the coming weeks as the Academy Awards race begins.

“There are some great titles that are on the way,” said Dergarabedian. “I see several promising films — Oscar contenders like “50/5/” ‘The Descendants’ and ‘Ides of March,’ and even potential big moneymakers like “Real Steel”

“The Help” the acclaimed DreamWorks Pictures drama distributed by Disney about black Southern maids speaking out during the civil-rights movement, slipped to No. 2 with $8.7 million after three straight weeks at the top, bringing its domestic total to $137 million.

“Warrior,” the Lionsgate mixed-martial arts drama starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, punched up a $5.6 million debut in the No. 3 position. David Spitz, head of distribution for Lionsgate, said he expects <“Warrior” to mirror the simmering success of “The Help.”

“The film has gotten unbelievable reviews,” said Spitz. “The audience reaction we’re getting on the movie is consistent. People like the film. It’s a slow burn. We think we’re going to be in theaters for a long time.”

Contagion: The Epidemic of Fear

Contagion: The Epidemic of Fear

Nothing spreads like fear.

Contagion follows the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days. As the fast-moving epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself. At the same time, ordinary people struggle to survive in a society coming apart.

Contagion is directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Scott Z. Burns. The project was announced in February 2010 with the news that Matt Damon and Jude Law were cast in Contagion in their first collaboration since The Talented Mr. Ripley in 1999. Kate Winslet and Marion Cotillard joined the cast later in the month. Sodebergh received cooperation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and also worked with a group of scientific advisers for the film.

While the international medical community searches for a cure, confrontational freelance journalist Alan Krumwiede pursues an agenda of his own. Combining a genuine reporter’s instinct with a pathological distrust of all things official and a flair for the dramatic, he commits his popular blog to exposing the truth about the growing epidemic…as he sees it.

“His demand for the truth could be seen as heroic,” says Jude Law, starring as the man who claims—among other things—that there are more deaths than are being reported, and possibly an alternative cure being suppressed. “He believes people have a right to know and that information should be shared, especially when it’s something on this scale, and he was the first to break the story of a man dying on a Tokyo bus, who turned out to be one of the virus’ first victims. He has the courage of his convictions but his pride and ego often get in the way. He casts too broad a net for his stories and doesn’t always care about the repercussions of what he puts out there.”

Contagion: The Epidemic of Fear

“Krumwiede is not always wrong,” Soderbergh points out. But neither is he always right. And what he broadcasts takes on a life of its own as people desperate for answers turn to his blog. As the disease continues to proliferate, so does his subscriber base, from modest beginnings to 2 million, then 12 million people. “There are always conspiracy theories that percolate around significant events,” says Burns. “And just as a virus begins with one person and spreads, Krumwiede becomes the ‘index patient’ for what becomes a parallel epidemic of fear and panic.”

In developing the complex and undeniably charismatic character, Soderbergh recounts, “Jude and I talked about bloggers who take an anti-government, conspiracy theory approach—what they sound like, what they look like, and how they behave. We definitely wanted him to have a messianic streak.”

“What’s interesting is that you’re not really sure about him,” says Jacobs. “Is the government really hiding something and does the herbal remedy he’s talking about really work? I think we all suspect at one time or another that we’re not getting the whole truth, and in that sense Krumwiede represents the audience’s point of view.” “But,” Law confirms, “ultimately, he crosses the line.”

Representing one of Krumwiede’s prime targets is Elliott Gould, re-teaming with Soderbergh and his three-time “Ocean’s” co-star Matt Damon, as Dr. Ian Sussman, a San Francisco-based medical researcher working independently on a possible vaccine—against CDC orders. Monique Gabriela Curnen (“The Dark Knight”) also appears as a newspaper editor, Lorraine Vasquez, who dismisses Krumwiede’s bid for an exclusive just before the contagion breaks.

Contagion

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Jennifer Ehle, Anna Jacoby-Heron, Josie Ho, Sanaa Lathan
Screenplay by: Scott Z. Burns
Production Design by: Howard Cummings
Cinematography by: Steven Soderbergh
Film Editing by: Stephen Mirrione
Costume Design by: Louise Frogley
Set Decoration by: Cindy Carr
Art Direction by: Abdellah Baadil, Simon Dobbin, David Lazan
Music by: Cliff Martinez
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing content and some language.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: September 9, 2011

Related Link: View Full Production Notes for Contagion Movie

Matt Damon won’t be in ‘Bourne’ sequel

Matt Damon won't be in 'Bourne' sequel

The franchise’s next film, “The Bourne Legacy,” will not star Damon or even feature Jason Bourne.

Matt Damon vowed, after director Paul Greengrass left the “Bourne” franchise, that he’d never do another “Bourne” movie unless they let Greengrass return. Tony Gilroy, screenwriter of two of the films and director of “Michael Clayton,” has taken over the franchise, and he’s found a way out of the Damon problem: Get rid of Jason Bourne.

The next film will be called “The Bourne Legacy,” but even though the name’s in the title, the film will have no Jason Bourne. Thus, no Matt Damon. Interestingly enough, the book “The Bourne Legacy” does have Jason Bourne (though it wasn’t actually written by Robert Ludlum, the creator of the book series). Gilroy explained to Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells that he’s just taking the title and running with it.

“The easiest way to think of it is an expansion or a reveal. Jason Bourne will not be in this film, but he’s very much alive. What happened in the first three films is the trigger for what happens. I’m building a legend and an environment and a wider conspiracy…the world we’re making enhances and advances and invites Jason Bourne’s return [down the road]. Everything you saw in the first three films actually happened, and everyone who got into will be rewarded for paying attention. We’re going to show you the bigger picture, the bigger canvas. When you see what we’re going and see what we’re doing it’ll be pretty obvious….but Jason Bourne’s actvities in the first three films is the immediate trigger.”

When Gilroy says he’s only using the title of the book, not the plot, he’s not kidding: “The Bourne Legacy,” which came out in 2004 and is written by Eric Van Lustbader (who took over the franchise from the Ludlum estate for six more books), is all about Jason Bourne. Picking up where “The Bourne Ultimatum” left off, “Legacy” features Bourne back as David Webb (his birth name), teaching classes at Georgetown. He survives an assassination attempt and is — all together now — drawn into a complicated web of intrigue and deceit. Considering the whole book — and the rest of the books written by Van Lustbader — is about Bourne’s adventures, Gilroy’s adaptation will be anything but: He’s essentially inventing a brand-new character and hitching it to the Bourne franchise.

The new direction may jibe well with Gilroy’s “Michael Clayton” sensibility, though basically it sounds like Jason Bourne started some sort of “movement,” which doesn’t seem like Bourne’s style. Curiously, Gilroy leaves the door open for Bourne’s – that is to say, Damon’s – return at some point, presuming the films are so good he just couldn’t help but want to be a part of them. So, we have another entry in the casting couch speculation derby: Who’s playing the new Bourne/not-Bourne? Horizons should be expanded; when they cast the first Bourne film, no one considered Matt Damon an action star either.