The inside story of Matt Damon’s bold yet sane plan to use his celebrity and smarts to help attack one of the globe’s great crises.
Once upon a time, Matt Damon went for a long walk in rural Zambia. The devoted family man and method philanthropist was accompanying a 14-year-old Zambian girl who had no idea that her hiking companion was an Academy Award-winning international heartthrob.
The walk came toward the end of a 10-day African journey, a systematic primer on the complexities of the continent’s extreme poverty that had been organized for Damon by staffers from his friend Bono’s ONE campaign. Damon was on a quest to understand what it meant to be really, really poor. “It was like a mini course in college,” he says. Every day brought a different subject: urban AIDS, microfinance, education, and, finally, water. While walking with the young teen on her hour-long trudge to collect water for her family, something clicked. “We talked the whole time [through a translator]. When I asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up — ‘Do you want to stay here?’ ” he says, pointing to the memory of the dusty village — “she got shy all of a sudden.” As they returned, both toting 5-gallon jugs of water filled at the well, she finally confessed her dream: to go to the big city, Lusaka, and become a nurse. Damon recalled his dreams at the same age, when he and best friend Ben Affleck were plotting their way from Boston to casting agents in New York. That connection opened the door for Damon. “I remembered so well the feeling of being young, when that whole world of possibility was open to you.”
But while Damon’s dream was made possible by Amtrak, the girl’s was possible only because somebody drilled a borewell near her home — and, yes, an hour’s walk for water is good news in lots of places in the world. Nearly 1 billion souls lack access to clean water; three times that number lack access to proper sanitation. “This is not something that most 14-year-olds have to go through,” says Damon, 40. Without access to the water, his companion would have been unable to go to school and would likely have been forced into a precarious fight for life, spending her days scavenging for often-filthy water in unhealthy and unsafe environments. “Now she can hope to be a nurse and contribute to the economic engine of Zambia,” he says. “Of all the different things that keep people in this kind of death spiral of extreme poverty, water just seemed so huge.” He pauses. “And it doesn’t have to be.”
Damon tells me this story on a rainy spring day in Manhattan, after a full schedule of board meetings for Water.org, the charity he cofounded in 2009, three years after his Zambia trip, with longtime water expert, and now dear friend, Gary White. It has been a long day but a good one, and Damon has more news to share. He checks his watch. “I have to pick up my daughter from school. Come along and we’ll keep talking,” he tells me. As we make our way from a conference room at McKinsey in Midtown (a board member works there) to a car waiting on the street, I watch passersby light up in recognition and try to catch his eye. In spite of his attempt to blend in — Damon is wearing glasses, a splash of whiskers, and a Panavision baseball cap — he is unmistakable. And he never fails to return a smile. “Clearly my strong suit is and will be trying to get people to care about this issue,” he says of his primary role. “Our vision is clean water and sanitation for everyone, in our lifetime …” he trails off. “So we better get to work.”
For all his star power, though, Damon is more than just the pretty face of Water.org. He has turned himself into a development expert. This would seem like an obvious and necessary first step for someone embracing the global water crisis as a personal mission. But, in fact, it’s highly unusual for a celebrity to dive this deep into a problem this daunting. Whether talking microfinance strategy with rural bankers, giving detailed reports from the field at the annual Clinton Global Initiative, or personally thanking donors like PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, Damon has quietly developed the cred of a program geek. “If you want to understand how this works,” he says, sounding more like an anthropologist than a celebrity spokesperson, “there is no substitute for going there and talking to people in their homes.” It’s an approach he comes by honestly. His mother, a professor of early childhood education, spent part of her summers living with local families in Guatemala and Mexico, attending language school in preparation for her field research. She brought her impressionable teenage son along. “She specialized in nonviolent conflict resolution,” Damon explains. In war-torn areas like El Salvador, she interviewed children, studied their artwork, and documented their trauma. “So I’d seen extreme poverty at an early age,” he says. “I knew what it was, and I always cared about it.” He has replicated her research process, immersing himself in the business of social enterprise until he found the cause that he felt passion for — water.
You can read the rest of the article on Fast Company website.
Do: Kill off a main character
The Bourne Supremacy begins with a gutsy twist: The surprise assassination of Franka Potente’s Marie, who gave the first film much of its emotional resonance. The gamble paid off: Supremacy and Ultimatum are both supercharged by the title character’s quest for vengeance.
See Also: Scream II, The Dark Knight, and The Godfather Part 2. Harrison Ford always felt that Han Solo should’ve died in Return of the Jedi, which in all fairness would have been totally awesome.
The Bourne movies are one of the few trilogies that gets better as it goes on.
The keen card player was spotted meeting Harvey Weinstein and Ocean’s 13 screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien at New York restaurant Cipriani Downtown to begin work on the script to Rounders 2, the New York Post reports.
Edward Norton, who appeared in the first movie, will reportedly reprise his role in the sequel.
In Rounders Matt played a law student who was lured back into gambling by his old friend, an ex-convict, played by Ed.
The 1998 film flopped at the box office but became a cult hit on DVD
Damon to start work on what is believed to be Father Daughter Time early next year.
Matt Damon is moving ahead with his directorial debut, and has offered the name of one of his stars.
Speaking to Vulture, he said: “I’ve got a few things that I really want to direct, and one I’m actually going to start at the first quarter of next year.”
It’s thought to be Father Daughter Time: A Tale of Armed Robbery and Eskimo Kisses, a script from Matthew Aldrich picked up by Warner Bros. as a starring vehicle for Damon. The plotline has a “man who goes on the lam with his daughter, his accomplice on a three-state crime spree.” Aldrich described it as “a smallish, very personal, dark but playful road movie about a father and daughter.”
It’s been rumoured that Damon will direct, as he had been planning to get behind the camera for The Trade, a true wife-swapping baseball movie that was set to star him and best mate Ben Affleck. That project is now on hold my legal reasons.
Damon wouldn’t confirm if Father Daughter Time is in fact the film he will direct, but did mention that John Krasinski would be in it.
The star of the US version of The Office is married to Damon’s Adjustment Bureau co-star Emily Blunt, and has popped up on the big screen in Something Borrowed, It’s Complicated, License To Wed and Away We Go. He’ll next be seen in The Muppets and Everybody Loves Whales. Krasinski himself made his directorial debut in 2009 with Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.
Meanwhile, Damon is having a busy 2011 in his day job as actor, starring in Neill Blompkamp’s Elysium, Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace and Contagion, and Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo.
MALONE — Academy Award-winning screenwriter and actor Matt Damon was in Malone Wednesday, apparently learning more about wind farms.
The star of “Good Will Hunting” and “The Bourne Identity” franchise could also be gathering information for a film he is rumored to be making for his directorial debut.
The lunch crowd at Jon’s Family Restaurant on Finney Boulevard was abuzz with people getting their picture taken with Damon and actor John Krasinski, who plays Jim Halpert on the NBC sitcom “The Office.”
One of the fans who got close Wednesday was Katie Nason, who works at Giggles and Wiggles child-care center in Malone.
“It was pretty exciting. I was there with my husband, and my in-laws were arriving,” she said.
There was a lot of commotion at a table behind them, with the waitresses and restaurant staff crowding around and taking pictures with a man in a hat and glasses.
“My husband said, ‘It must be somebody famous,'” Nason said.
She said she got a look at who it was causing the excitement, “and I lost my breath. It took me 10 minutes to go over there and talk to him.
“I was like, ‘I can’t not get this.’ My mother-in-law took the picture on her iPod.
“He was very polite and just as cute in person,” Nason said. “You could tell he was used to it.”
The actors were apparently in the area to learn more about wind farms for a future movie and were accompanied by Town Council member Jack Sullivan, a vocal wind-farm opponent.
Sullivan could not be immediately reached for comment.
Damon is the co-founder of H2O Africa and Water.org, which work to improve living conditions in developing countries through clean water.
The film Damon might direct and star in is tentatively called “Father and Daughter,” according to a website entry for New York Magazine.
“I’ve got a few things that I really want to direct, and one I’m actually going to start at the first quarter of next year,” he said in the article.
He would play a criminal on the run with his daughter.
Damon would not say much about the film but did tell the magazine, “John Krasinski is in it.”
16. Tom Ripley (Matt Damon), The Talented Mr. Ripley
Identity theft—ain’t it a bitch? Ripley not only tries to steal the life of Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), but he also kills his best friend. Strolling the Amalfi coast with bold-framed glasses, throwback suspenders, and loosened oxfords, he rubs it all in by looking better than his victim, too. —A.R.
TIME has released its 2011 list of the 100 Most Influential People – and we’re happy to see some familiar Hollywood activists making the cut.
For their efforts to help fund clean water projects throughout the developing world, Matt Damon and Gary White – co-founders of Water.org – were honored in a piece written by Ted Danson. “Their message is one of hope; their solutions for providing access to clean water are simple and cost effective,” praises the actor. “And their work gives us an opportunity to change lives forever.”
We’ve given a lot of credit to Damon in the past for his efforts to help raise awareness on the water crisis – so it’s great to see him being recognized here. “Matt and I, along with our staff, partners, donors, and long-time supporters believe we can achieve universal access to safe water in our lifetime,” said White. “We know there will never be enough charity to fully realize our vision so it requires us to continually look to new ideas and ways to reach more people more quickly – something we have been doing since our founding.”
Best Actor winner Colin Firth was also singled out for his work both on and off the camera. “The two sides of Colin, 50, inform each other,” writes Helen Mirren. “He can be the glamorous celebrity, but look closely at photos of him on the red carpet: there is a kindness in his eyes, an introspection and consideration. He actively pursues a deeper understanding of the world around him, and his humanitarianism gives a depth and wisdom to his performances.”
Besides his work with Oxfam, Firth has also lobbied for the Make Trade Fair campaign, Amnesty International, and Survival International, and has won various awards for his efforts, such as the European Voice Campaigner of the Year award, The Hollywood Reporter’s inaugural Philanthropist of the Year award, as well as the BAFTA Britannia Humanitarian Award.
Actor Matt Damon has revealed he is looking forward to lock lips with Michael Douglas for their new movie.
Damon will play Douglas’ lover in a movie about gay piano legend Liberace.
“It’s scripted that there’s more than one. I never thought I would get to kiss Michael Douglas,” contactmusic quoted Damon as saying.
Douglas, who revealed in January that he is in remission for stage four throat cancer, is equally enthusiastic about the project.
“I’m just going to get really comfortable so it’s not a caricature. Matt Damon’s going to be my younger lover. God bless Matt. I saw Matt and I was teasing him. I was saying, ‘Bring a lot of ChapStick, babe,” said Douglas.
The film will be helmed by Steven Soderbergh.
No matter how big a star he’s become (and thanks to the Bourne franchise, he’s become very big indeed) Matt Damon has always seemed refreshingly removed from the silliness of showbiz. Following the birth of his fourth daughter, the Harvard drop-out, activist and aspiring director is even more determined to play the Hollywood game on his own terms.
In a midtown hotel suite, Matt Damon looks intently at the view over Manhattan. He points out the Brooklyn Bridge, where a key scene in his latest film, The Adjustment Bureau, was filmed. In dark jeans, a white T-shirt and brown lace-up boots, with a turned-up nose and pale blue eyes, he looks, well, just like you’d expect Matt Damon to look, though at 178cm, perhaps slightly shorter.
Directed by George Nolfi (a screenwriter on The Bourne Ultimatum) and based on a Philip K Dick short story, The Adjustment Bureau is a sort of Sliding Doors love story, with Damon’s politician running around Manhattan’s streets in pursuit of a ballerina called Elise (Emily Blunt). But the forces of fate, led by Mad Men’s John Slattery, seem to keep them apart. At least, that seems to be the plot from a collection of film clips journalists were shown. The final cut wasn’t yet available.
No matter, Oscar-winner Damon has plenty more movies on his dance card. There’s the Coen brothers’ True Grit, which came out in January, plus Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo, both slated for release this year.
The Matt Damon-starring movie “Hereafter” was pulled from theaters in Japan earlier this week, and Warner Bros. is using the film’s Tuesday release on DVD and Blu-ray as a way to raise money for relief efforts.
According to the L.A. Times, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is donating an unspecified percentage of DVD and Blu-ray sales to the Japanese Red Cross Society following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the nation last Friday. Those familiar with the matter tell the Times that the donation will be in the ballpark of $1 million.
The Clint Eastwood-directed film focuses on grief and the afterlife, but it does contain a scene depicting a tsunami wreaking havoc on a coastal town. It’s been playing in Japan since February. A Warner Bros. rep explained to CNN, “In deference to the tragic unfolding events in Japan, we have pulled ‘Hereafter’ from the theaters.”
The Warner Bros. rep added that the opening of Anthony Hopkins’ horror thriller “The Rite,” which was originally scheduled to bow this weekend in Japan, has been postponed.