Matt Damon Issues His Final "Ultimatum"
For the third time, popular star and Oscar-winning screenwriter Matt Damon takes on the role of a fellow who has no idea who he is; Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum. With his marriage and dad-hood, Matt, in contrast, really seems to know who he is and he has become more grounded than when we first spoke to him about this fun action film franchise a few years ago. Matt is clever, funny and yes, really cute. This is perhaps the most action-packed "Bourne" ever and Matt did many of his own stunts in the fast-paced chase/thriller. He's very buff these days and looked tan and hot in a taupe polo shirt and jeans for our Beverly Hills interview. Let's get to it.....
TeenHollywood: Matt, you've said before that you're not going to be playing Jason Bourne ever again. Is that definite?
Matt: I made that comment at Cannes when we were about nine months into shooting the movie [he laughs]. I just went, 'I'm never doing this again.' But I think in terms of another one, the story of this guy's search for his identity is over, because he's got all the answers, so there's no way we can trot out the same character. So much of what makes him interesting is that internal struggle. 'Am I a good guy? Am I a bad guy? What is the secret behind my identity? What am I blocking out? Why am I remembering these disturbing images?' So now, all of that internal propulsive mechanism that drives the character is not there, so if there was to be another one, where do you go from there? For me I kind of feel like the story that we set out to tell is has now been told.
TeenHollywood: Yeah, I can't think what it would be about. Maybe Bourne finally living a normal life.
Matt: Actually, I was talking to a journalist yesterday, who suggested that we could make the fourth one about Bourne losing his keys. [We laugh] And we could do it for the entire movie, 'Where are my keys?' And that kind of illustrates how out of story we are at this point in terms of what was good about these first three films.
TeenHollywood: How did playing this coldly efficient amnesiac killer change your life?
Matt: It's been seven years of my life really for me, there hasn't been a role that's had a bigger impact on my life, maybe Good Will Hunting did because it pulled Ben [Affleck] and I out of total obscurity. In between 'Supremacy' and this one, there were three movies that I really wanted to do; Syriana, which was a very complicated movie and George [Clooney] and I cut all our money so we could do it, and The Departed and The Good Shepherd, and everyone went, 'Look, this is a tiny, little bull's eye you're aiming at here,' but I didn't hesitate because I loved all the scripts. I knew that I had The Bourne Ultimatum off in the middle distance, and that there was going to be an audience that was built in for that. So it really just allowed me creative freedom to make all these movies and hey all did very well so they all just made a big impact on my career. So that's like an ancillary way that the Bourne character has completely changed my life.
TeenHollywood: Seeing this movie with an audience, people cheer when you're kicking butt and crashing cars. How does it feel to be that kind of a crowd pleaser with this action?
Matt: It feels so good I can't even tell you. None of us have seen it with an audience [at the time of this interview]. So two nights ago, when the first press screening happened, we were all getting Blackberried during the movie, 'They're cheering at Waterloo.' That's when the champagne came out because we didn't know. We came so down to the wire, as we always do on these Bourne movies, that we didn't even get [an audience] test. We each had little DVDs, we showed it on television, I showed it to my wife, I showed it to my brother, he was like, 'Yeah, cool.' And so we'd have these little friends and family screenings.
TeenHollywood: What was your favorite action sequence in this film?
Matt: Well, I always liked the Tangier sequence and the running along the roof because it's just Bourne absolutely a hundred miles an hour flat out. I always liked him grabbing the things [to fight with] and all the things we came up with when we were on the real location. That's the fun stuff. You get a bunch of guys together and you're going, 'Alright, what would be the smart thing to do here?' And we'd kind of figure out those sequences, and when they cut them together and they actually work it's really a good feeling. Although Paul came up with [a chase in] Waterloo [station in London]. [He thought] 'what would it be like to have a guy leading a complete novice through?' That was all Paul and I love that sequence too, [under his breath] and the car chase too [laughs].
TeenHollywood: Did you get hurt at all doing any of the stunts on this one?
Matt: I definitely felt my age! [Matt is in his 30's now]. And particularly because that big fight scene in Tangier, Joey, the other actor, the guy that I'm fighting, is like 23 years old. The first movie came out and he was in high school! And so he was so happy. He was like 'Mate, I'm in a Bourne fight, this is great!' And he is in really good shape, and he's already like a much better athlete than me. So I was like, 'Oh, man, Joey, you're killing me! You gotta slow down.' And so I think it took probably a couple extra days. I couldn't possibly defend myself against him. [laughs] He was a good sport about it though. He did a great job.
TeenHollywood: Can you give us an update on fatherhood?
Matt: [big grin] Being a dad is still great. It's been just amazing. I mean, these stages just go by. It's like it's incredibly fast, you know? So much is happening. She's walking around now. She's 13 months old, so it's just amazing. It happens at warp speed. I see why, when parents see little babies, they get that thing, they go, 'I want another one', because the stages all just fly past. If you're with her every day, which I'm lucky enough to be, it's happening in front of you, and you don't even see it.
TeenHollywood: Is she talking? Do you know what she's saying?
Matt: Well, right now, she kind of sounds like a crow. She kind of goes like [makes funny crow caw sound twice]. Like that. And she points at things. And this morning, like she pointed at the ceiling, and there was nothing on the ceiling. And she just went [makes crow sound] like that. And I was like, 'Well, that's the ceiling' And she went [he does a silly laugh]. And I was like, 'I don't know what's funny about that.' So I'm trying to figure out what's going on in her head. Sometimes she just has these things that I just have no idea what she's thinking. So I'm working on that.
TeenHollywood: You do some voice/over narration in this film. You have a great voice. Will you do more of that?
Matt: Thank you. [in a high voice] 'Huh, what'd you say?' [we laugh]. I'm going to narrate a movie called Running the Sahara, which we produced. It's about these three ultra-marathoners. It's a documentary. They ran across the Sahara Desert last year, about 50 miles every day. Yeah, three guys from three different countries. And it's a movie about that expedition and also what happened to them on the run, and how they became aware of a lot of issues, particularly the water crisis in Africa. So that's going to be at the Toronto Film Festival this year.
TeenHollywood: At the end of the day, what do you want to be known for?
Matt: The career that I think Ben and I look at, Clooney's definitely doing it right now, and Clint Eastwood. Those are the careers where they're acting, they're writing, they're directing, and they're doing it on their terms. I love making movies, and I love everything about it. And I love writing and I love acting, and I really want to direct. And I've been taking this last ten years to really carefully study these directors that I've been working with. And I've worked with a lot of really good ones at this point. And so I feel like I'm ready to do it. It would be great to have a long career. I just want to just be smart about the work that I'm doing and try to have integrity about the choices I make, and that's it.
TeenHollywood: Are you and Ben going to write anything else soon?
Matt: In terms of my 'hetero-life-mate', as I think Kevin Smith once said in one of his movies, we're not working on a script right now, but we're talking about a bunch of different things. His career just totally has gone in this really new and exciting direction. I've seen the movie that he directed [Gone, Baby, Gone, a crime thriller co-starring Ben's brother Casey] and it is really good. It's fantastic, the performances are great and every actor is going to want to work with him after they see this thing. It's coming out around October. So he's gone from being an actor to now being a director, now being somebody that can give me a job, so our whole relationship's completely changed [laughs].
TeenHollywood: Would you like to be directed by him?
Matt: I would love to, so now that's a new dynamic that our partnership can have. We can do a movie that we act in, or I act in and he directs, or something that we co-direct, or something that co-write and co-direct, there are so many different possibilities now because he's gone and done this really great movie. So it's exciting and now we've started to talk about that stuff again, it's been ten years since the last one and we both put our heads down and worked pretty hard in this last ten years, and so now we've woken up with careers and families and all the things that we wanted, and so hopefully the next ten years will be about doing better work, maybe doing a little less of it, but doing better stuff and doing more together.
Lynn Barker is a Hollywood-based entertainment journalist and produced screenwriter.