Yesterday I was able to participate in a small roundtable interview with Matt Damon for his new movie Green Zone. While I’ll have the full interview posted closer to release, we were able to get updates on a ton of his upcoming projects like the Coen Brothers True Grit, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, the Gary Ross’s Robert Kennedy project (Damon would play Kennedy), Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, playing a New York Yankees pitcher with Ben Affleck, and Liberace. And on top of updates on his future projects, he talked about being nominated for an Oscar on Invictus, and how he’s incredibly excited to direct his first feature.
If you’d like to hear more…hit the jump:
The one thing that came across after talking to Damon yesterday is he really doesn’t know what he’s doing after the Coen Brothers True Grit. With production starting March 15, Damon walked in with a half grown mustache for the movie and made some jokes about going into 80’s porn. He had the whole room laughing.
But when I questioned him about all the projects he’s been linked to like Soderbergh’s Contagion, the RFK project with Gary Ross, and the movie he might do with Ben Affleck where he’d play a pitcher for the Yankees that did some wife swapping in the 70’s, he made it clear that most of the projects are still waiting on the script, and he’s really unsure what he will do next.
But that’s not to say he isn’t excited about all of them.
The other interesting news was how passionate he sounded about directing his first movie. While he didn’t tell us what the project might be, he said the big hold up for him getting behind the camera is all the amazing work he’s getting as an actor with some of the biggest director’s in Hollywood. Here’s part of what he said about directing his first feature:
“If I can figure out a project, yes. I’m dying to do it. I’m really excited about it. But I keep getting these jobs with these directors and I don’t feel like I’m putting off my directing career by going to work with the Coen Brothers. On the contrary, I feel like I’m going to learn so much watching them that I guess I’ll put off directing for another year and watch these guys do it.”
The other fun part of the interview was when he discussed the Oscars this year and the way actors prepare when they know they won’t win. It’s funny stuff.
Here’s everything he said regarding future projects, the Oscars, and directing. Look for a lot more on Green Zone soon. And if you missed everything Damon said about how he’s not doing another Bourne movie, click here.
Question: I know we’re here for Green Zone, but I have to say, as a fellow New Englander, I just read online that you’re going to be playing a Yankees fan.
Matt Damon: Man, shit, I’ve been asked that question so many times. Yeah, I haven’t seen that script yet, but I know Ben’s been — Ben was really high on that story. It’s kind of like a well-known story about these two pitchers for the Yankees who swapped wives.
See, that’s ok. That’s a little bit better.
Damon: [SOUTHERN ACCENT] “I’m talkin’ about wife swappin’!” Always makes me think of Raising Arizona.
New Englander here. Seeing you as a Yankee…I don’t know.
Damon: It’s like when Billy Crystal was doing the movie 61 and I went and I talked to him and I said, “God, I think you’re going to make a really good movie, but I don’t think I can put that hat on.”
Now you can?
Damon: MD: Well, we’ll see what happens. If Ben’s really hot to do it and it’s — and, you know, we get a great script, then, you know… I’ll just tell people it was Photoshopped.
What’s next for you right after this?
Damon: If I can finish growing this (mustache) out, I’m going into porn. [LAUGHTER] But ’80s porn.
If you Google yourself today, that is the story online.
Damon: Oh, really? I’m trying to grow it out for True Grit. You know, The Informant one (mustache) was a glue-on because it had to come off and on, because I only had it for about three quarters of the movie.
This is your first time working with the Coens, right?
Damon: Yeah, I’m really excited. It’s a great script. They just adapted it from the book and the book is just amazing. I’d never read it, but it’s terrific. Worth the read.
When does production start?
Damon: March 15th.
Damon: Yeah, I love westerns. But I really love the Coen Brothers, so I’m looking forward to that, definitely.
What about the Oscars? You’re returning to the Oscars — it’s one of those things, how do you feel about doing the Oscars where you have to — Christoph Waltz is basically everywhere…
Everybody’s talking about him. Do you just go in saying, “It’s nice being nominated, I’m gonna go and do the whole thing,” or do you just —
Damon: No, you just go there and have a good time. There’s no pressure. You’re not going to have to make a speech.
You don’t think! There’s always surprises…
Damon: Yeah, I don’t think anyone’s surprising — in fact, I emailed Stanley Tucci: we’ll have a contest to see who can be more magnanimous when Christoph Waltz wins. I did that with Billy Bob Thornton when he was nominated for A Simple Plan. We were working together and he had the whole crew going, because he had them while they were setting up a shot, he was sitting in his chair and he had his assistant naming the other people. “And the Oscar goes to…” you know, whoever was in the category. And he was practicing his gracious [CLAPS DEFERENTIALLY]. So he was like, “I really need to rehearse this. [SOUTHERN ACCENT] I gotta go out there and I just don’t want to get caught off guard if old so and so wins. I gotta make sure I’m lookin’ gracious.”
So no storming out?
Damon: No storming out. I’m waiting for the actor to have to have the courage… when the camera, to just go fuck! If I have the balls to do it you’ll see it on March 7.
Q: I’m going to ask you another New England question: there are rumors you’re going to play Robert Kennedy.
Damon: Yeah, well, Gary Ross has — Evan Thomas wrote a new biography of him and Gary’s got the rights to it so, yeah, we’re hoping to. But there’s no script yet, so it’s a little ways off. But if a script — the script’s supposed to come in next month, so hopefully it’ll be great and I’ll have a job for the fall.
Are you amazed at how much online stuff gets reported before there’s a script?
Damon: Yeah, it’s incredible. In fact, Gary emailed me this morning and said — because I just got the question last night at the premiere — and Gary said that, I guess one of the producers mentioned it offhand. And the story just got picked up. Because it’s literally something I’ve mentioned to my wife, like, “Oh, you know, that might happen someday.” But suddenly you guys all know. It’s like, “How do you guys all know that? I don’t even know that!” What else do you know about me? What else am I gonna do? What am I gonna have for dinner tonight?
Any chance you might work with Ben again? He’s become an established director.
Damon: Yeah, and his last movie was great. The Town. I’ve seen the rough cut, it’s fantastic.
So have you talked about writing something with you to star in.
Damon: Well, that’s the idea. The first-look deal that we set up at Warner — because I want to direct too, so there are a bunch of different ways that we could end up working together. It’s weird that 12 years have gone by since we worked together. It’s just kind of happened, you know? We were just kind of reacting to the work that was out there, and starting families and all that stuff. But we definitely want to try to find stuff. It’s tough, though. We wrote Good Will Hunting because we were unemployed and had all this time. And so we definitely don’t have that kind of time anymore. So I think that’s been the biggest obstacle to writing, has just been all the acting work we’ve been getting, and now directing work for him.
You have another great relationship with Steven Soderbergh and you’ve talked about doing a Liberace project, there’s something about Contagion?
Damon: Yeah. Contagion… Scott Burns, who wrote The Informant, handed in this great script and it’s timely, so… it’s more of an ensemble piece, but I’m going to play a small part in that, and then we’re going to do Liberace sometime next year.
What does this mean for your schedule in 2010? Have you already booked now, what two, three films?
Damon: Well, none of them are actually lined up, like we’re starting here and we’ve got a green light. They’re all things that I’m really excited about that’ll be movable pieces depending on Steven’s schedule. If this RFK thing goes, then that might change some — you know what I mean? There’s a play I really want to do… But they’re all just exciting things that are out there in the middle distance.
Who’s impressed you as far as another actor who’s been around for 40 years, someone who’s like, “That’s where I want to be in 20 years…”
Damon: Clint (Eastwood). He started directing around my age and to see a guy who’s that invigorated by what he does, who’s been doing it for that long, is awesome. And it really is something that I hope I can have in my life. It’s such a full life, to be totally engaged and inspired and not be jaded and cynical, but still love telling stories. It’s the pipe dream of a life, really.
Speaking of Clint, what about Hereafter. How was that experience?
Damon: Great. It was just another blissful… it was really fast, because the movie is three different storylines. So my storyline, they shot it… he needed 19 days, so we shot six-day weeks, so it was three weeks and a day of shooting. He’s just ridiculously fast. I mean, we shot nine pages one day. He’s just… he’s amazing.
On the dock you’ve got the Coen Brothers and you’ve done Clint Eastwood, you have Soderbergh, you have Greengrass — is there any director that you’d really be keen on working with?
Damon: Well, I’m about to do it with the Coen Brothers. I’m dying, dying to work with those guys. I just think they’re incredible and I can’t wait. But there are a bunch of great directors out there. There’s a ton of people I haven’t worked with. But if I could just work with the people that I have worked with, I’d be great.
Will you direct any time soon?
Damon: If I can figure out a project, yes. I’m dying to do it. I’m really excited about it. But I keep getting these jobs with these directors and I don’t feel like I’m putting off my directing career by going to work with the Coen Brothers. On the contrary, I feel like I’m going to learn so much watching them that I guess I’ll put off directing for another year and watch these guys do it.