Matt Damon Interview
Matt Damon Interview
Did you know Jeff Bridges before this?

Matt Damon

I didn’t. I’d met him only in passing. I knew Jeff’s work obviously, and was a big, big fan. I reminded him that I’d once auditioned with him. He was reading for potential sidekicks for the movie Wild Bill and I had worked with [director] Walter Hill and so I got to come in and read with Jeff Bridges, which was great. He was very nice to me. He, of course, didn’t remember because he’d probably read with 100 guys but that was my one Jeff Bridges encounter. So it was great to work with Jeff and to see him in action. I feel like a lot of actors approach their work out of a place of darkness, and I think that’s a very effective way to do it and a lot of great performances have been created that way, but I think there are other actors who come predominantly out of a place of joy, and that to me is Jeff. And the environment is just joyful when he’s working - we had a lot of fun, I laughed a lot. It reminded me of working with another great actor – Morgan Freeman. They are so good that they are carrying both of you. I know I’m in the presence of greatness when that’s happening.
You were out in the open filming in some pretty extreme weather, you were riding horses a lot, doing a lot of your own stunts, so how physically challenging was this for you?

Matt Damon

It actually wasn’t too physical for me, I do some riding in the movie, but it was the same group of wranglers that I worked with before, ten or eleven years ago, in All The Pretty Horses. The horses were new because my old horses from that one had been retired, but these horses were just as well trained as those and I think for Jeff and me, we had each thrown our backs out, so that was our big concern going in, like are our backs going to survive all this riding, but it turned out to be pretty easy. We made it through.
I feel like a lot of actors approach their work out of a place of darkness...
Are you a fan of the western genre?

Matt Damon

Yeah, very much so and in fact, it’s hard to find material that feels like it’s not just a retread of something. But this is a western that deserved to be made. I think Clint [Eastwood] did it to great effect 15 years ago but I read everything and I hadn’t come across a script that was this good, with directors of this calibre and a role like this. It was a very easy decision for me.
Would you say it’s a very faithful adaptation of the book?

Matt Damon

Yes, I would. I’d say it is a very faithful adaptation of the book, and obviously there are some corners you need to cut to tell a story in two hours but I think this is a pretty faithful rendering of the book.
Did you watch the original True Grit movie? What was your attitude to that film?

Matt Damon

I actually still haven’t seen the other film, because when I had talked to Ethan and Joel about this one, they said ‘We are just going to the original source material, we are not seeing it as a remake, we’re seeing it as an adaptation of the Charles Portis novel …’ So they gave me the novel. And I went out and I did buy a copy of the movie, but I still haven’t cracked it yet and that has more to do with four young kids at home [laughs] and I haven’t a lot of time.
Did you take your children on to the set for True Grit?

Matt Damon

I took Gia on set and she was totally cool. She wasn’t quite two years old at the time and for her it was all about the horses. I wasn’t working so much that day – they were doing the scene where Rooster says, ‘Fill your hands, you son of a bitch …’ So I wasn’t needed for a few hours as Barry [Pepper, who plays Lucky Ned Pepper] and Jeff were doing their thing. Barry’s horse was called Topper and Gia was initially a little afraid – so she went from being scared to interested to fascinated and then suddenly, she was sitting on Topper’s back. And literally, for months afterwards every horse she saw was Topper. It was really cool.
And now she wants one of her own…

Matt Damon

[Laughs] Yes and I have to explain that living in New York it doesn’t quite work. It’s like, ‘Sorry, honey, we can’t quite fit Topper into the apartment …’
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Content updated: 23/07/2018 23:48

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