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Cannes, Matt Damon star next door: “How much money did I lose by saying no to Avatar”

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It is the day of Matt Damon, last night the exciting premiere of Stillwater in the Salle Lumière, five minutes of applause and the actor – 50 years old in October – moved to tears. “We have experienced something inhuman in the last few months – he commented – after a year and a half spent watching TV, being in a room with thousands of strangers united by the love for cinema is something that deeply moved me. I had never tried such a strong experience in the dining room “. Today meetings with the press and an intense Rendez-Vous with the audience of the festival-goers in which he shows himself as generous as ever.

Stillwater, a father’s struggle to save his daughter accused of murder – The trailer


From Oklahoma with love, barbecue and church singing

Deep gaze and contagious smile, patiently signs autographs and greets those who stop him in the corridors of the Palais, Matt Damon is one of the great stars of Hollywood but when he talks about himself he seems like the neighbor next door, he has a very successful filmography and collaborations behind him. with the greatest masters: the action saga of Jason Bourne and the comedies with friends George Clooney and Brad Pitt of the saga born with Ocean’s Eleven, science fiction with The Martian (a Golden Globe) and an Oscar grossed at the age of twenty-seven for the film written with childhood friend Ben Affleck Will Hunting – Rebellious geniusAnd. He returns to Cannes for the fifth time “but it is as if it were the first” he says to present the film out of competition by Tom McCarthy, Oscar-winning director of The Spotlight case on the Pulitzer Prize inquiry into an archbishop of Boston accused of covering up cases of sexual abuse of children. Damon is the carpenter Bill Baker, we see him at the beginning of the film with Mexican workers cleaning houses gutted by the tornado, he didn’t vote for Donald Trump because he was in prison and at home he doesn’t have one weapon, but two. She leaves Oklahoma and the provincial town of Stillwater to visit her daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin, you may remember her as the child protagonist of Little Miss Sunshine), for years in prison in Marseille accused of the murder of his partner, a student of Arab origin (the director admitted that he had a fascination for the Amanda Knox – Meredith Kercher case but then wanted to get away from it). Once in France, Bill will find himself conducting his own personal investigation to try to exonerate his daughter, during which he will meet a single mother and her child with whom he will establish a special relationship. “I believe that any parent can find themselves crossing many lines for the sake of their children. Surely becoming a father made me feel extremely connected to this man’s story, his sense of pain and pain. Having children puts you in a mental space. different and this story is every parent’s nightmare. ” About the experience of building the character “from his physical appearance” he says “I gained weight, I don’t know how much, I started walking and talking differently. We spent a lot of time in Oklahoma, it’s a totally different world than in I grew up but they were very welcoming: we had a barbecue in the back of the houses, where someone would then take out a guitar and start singing church songs “.

On the college application I wrote: “Since I can remember I want to be an actor”

But it is the intense hour of the meeting with the public, in the hall many aspiring actors and film students, in which Matt Damon gives the best of himself and tells himself at 360 °, from the beginning with his friend Ben Affleck (“the most important collaboration of my life “) up to the possibility, postponed many times, of becoming a director, up to the relationship with his public image. More than thirty years of career, ninety titles and above all the ability to move from Hollywood projects worth millions of dollars to independent films (“Gerry by Gus Van Sant we shot it with a three-person crew … plus me and Casey (Affleck, ed) there was the director and a guy who brought water and sandwiches “. It seems that despite the weather he never lost his passion.” I really love this job so much, at the time of the college application I wrote ‘since I remember I want to be an actor ‘. I am convinced that if I lost this enthusiasm I would stop, I would start doing something else. Making films for me is a work of craftsmanship, the only way to learn is to do it, I don’t believe in the idea of ​​talking about it in theory, it’s hard work and the environment can be brutal but it’s also fantastic “.

With Ben Affleck and Robin Williams on the night of the 1998 Oscars

Ben, Will Hunting and that rented apartment

The memory of the beginning of his career and of that film that allowed him to win the Oscar for screenplay in 1998 is hilarious. “We felt there was only one rule: every decision had to be made for creative reasons, while we were writing we didn’t have no strategy, sometimes the writers look for a formula that pleases the public more than them, we don’t. However, since a few years earlier it had been released Hyenas of Tarantino and we knew that Harvey Keitel had made the fortune of the film, we said to ourselves: we have to write a character so beautiful that he can play a star so we can have the money to make the film, so the character of Robin Williams was born. When we finally sold the script in 1994, our life changed. We were so broke, I was living with a housemate and then there was Ben who supposedly didn’t live with me because he was getting married but then broke up with the girl and slept on my couch. When we signed the contract we were finally able to change neighborhood and take a three-bedroom apartment but as we had no references we went around with an article he had written Variety with our photo to convince homeowners to rent to us. We are these here, we said, we can pay the rent “.

From Avatar to Minority report: the roles I said no to

With the difficult system of joints and the availability of the actors, in more than thirty years of career there are many films that Matt Damon has had to give up, in spite of himself, and he has no problem in revealing it. “It was offered to me The Planet of the Apes, but I was already committed to The Bourne Identity … I wanted to do it, I said to myself ‘it will be beautiful’. After shooting the first chapter of the Jason Bourne saga the film was postponed, everyone thought it was going to be a disaster and my phone stopped ringing. On that occasion I learned not to take things personally, really. This is a business, your mission is for people to see your work and in my head I thought ‘if they don’t call me anymore I can always be a screenwriter’, but then the movie went well. The craziest thing in my career though is when James Cameron offered me to do Avatar. He told me ‘if you do that I’ll give you 10% of the proceeds’, I think no actor has ever given up on such a cachet in the history of cinema, but I was shooting Bourne ultimatum, I had given my availability for post-production … James told me ‘this film doesn’t need a star because the film itself is a star. I’m going to find someone new … ‘When he realized I couldn’t get out of the commitment I had made, he patted me on the back. I lost 10% of the takings of Avatar but I got a pat on the back from James Cameron. And one day I dream of working with him for free “.

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Casey Affleck with the Oscar for ‘Manchester by the sea’

Director’s dream and producer satisfaction: ‘Manchester by the sea’

For years Matt Damon has dreamed of making his debut behind the camera (funny when he talks about the different styles of directing the greats he worked with from Clint Eastwood for Invictus to Steven Spielberg for Save Private Ryan and makes an imitation) “I almost turned Promised land, I had to direct but the girls were small, I had already been out a lot, in the end it was shot by Gus (Van Sant). For Manchester by the sea the idea was that John Krasinski was the lead and I was directing but when I read the script I convinced screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan: ‘Kenny you have to do it’. After doing The Martian I said to myself: ‘There is only one person I would give this role to, Casey Affleck’. I knew he would do a great job, we went around Hollywood because he still didn’t have a name that attracted investment, until we walked into the office of a producer who took a risk on us, gave us all the money. “

With Steven Soderbergh, Brad Pitt and George Clooney

Shooting with friends Brad Pitt and George Clooney and lucky enough to be considered boring

“There is only one thing more beautiful than making films, making films with friends,” says Matt Damon, who points out to him how often you work with the same colleagues (Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Ben and Casey Affleck) says: ” well I’ve also been stuck on Mars alone for quite a while. ” And of the difficulty of managing his own public image as a star Damon is quite direct: “The media ditched me for a long time, because I was so boring. For gossip, sex and scandal magazines, it was not convenient to stand in front of my house because I am a man. married and with relatively scandal-free children. Many of my friends can’t get rid of them though, just look at the madness around Brad, he’s a Missouri guy, a guy who couldn’t be more normal. I’ll never forget once in Munich, we were there for Ocean’s Eleven, we had to participate in Formula One, we had to take pictures and then they would put the advertising of the film on the racing cars. I was with Brad and George and we had to do 500 meters but we couldn’t walk, they were all hugging Brad, I was shocked, they were all on us. I held tight to my wife, who was not yet my wife at the time, I was afraid they would take her away from me. Brad walked holding up this Laika of his he had and took pictures of those who were taking pictures of us as if he were going to the grocery store, while I couldn’t do it. Anyway I was lucky: I do the job I like and I can leave the shit out (in a low voice) “.

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