A sure way to get a laugh out of “Adjustment Bureau” star Matt Damon these days is to mention that oddly, two directors whose only link in this world is having both worked with Damon more than once have both announced seemingly premature “retirements” from movie making.
The quixotic and generally quite successful Steven Soderbergh seems to mean it. With Kevin Smith, who has had a lot of trouble getting his latest movie made and into theaters, it’s hard to tell. But both have announced a one-or-two-more movies and done career path.
So is working with Damon and the memory of Matt what drove both over the edge, and will Matt be in either filmmaker’s “final” film?
“I hope to be in both of their last movies,” Damon says. “But I hope neither one of them is making his last movie NOW. I hope not. I hope not. We need good directors.
“I’ve talked at length with Steven about it. He is going away for a while, I think. He genuinely wants to paint. And he feels if he really dedicates himself he can be really good. He’s not yet 50. He will put in the hours. He has a work ethic like nobody I’ve ever seen. He feels if he puts a hard decade of work in, he could really be doing something.
“But I see it as a waste of this incredible depth of knowledge of filmmaking. But his thing is ‘form. I’m only interested in what I can do with form. I’ve made almost every movie I want to,’ he says. ‘And if I see another over-the-shoulder shot, I’m going to kill myself.’
“I said to him, right after I did ‘Invictus,’ ‘Steven, I just finished a movie with a guy in his 70s who still charges out of bed every morning because he can’t wait to get to the set. He has a blast and is really loving it and he’s been doing it a lot longer than either of us.’ And without a blink, Steven says ‘But Clint’s a storyteller. A great storyteller. I’m not interested in stories. I’m interested in form.’
“I don’t know what to say to that. It’s his life to do with what he wants. So in the meantime, I’d doing as many movies with him as I can. I’ve definitely got him on the hook for one more. Hopefully, on the set of ‘Liberace’ I can convince him to do another one.
“This ‘Liberace’ script is just wonderful. Michael’s going to be just phenomenal in that part. We’re shooting that in 2012. I just did ‘Contagion’ with Steven last December.
“He has the most varied body of work of anybody I can think of. He’s at this point where we could shoot during the day, and him being the cinematographer and the director, we’d go home, have an hour or two off, and then meet him back at the hotel bar in Chicago. They’d have a back room where he’d sit, have some pretzels and a drink and he’d take a look at the day’s work. Scott Burns, the writer, Greg Jacobs, his first-AD, and me, we’d show up, get a drink and hang out with him. Steven would have his headphones on, sitting at his laptop. And in about 20 minutes he’d cut together the day’s work. ‘OK,’ he’d say, pull his headphones off and turn the computer around and show us, right there, what we’d shot that day and how it would look on the big screen when the movie comes out. THAT FAST. He’s a FREAK.
“When we did ‘Ocean’s Twelve,’ we did a wrap party at a bowling alley. I went up to him and said, ‘Hey Steven, thanks. Great time working with you. Thanks. How do you think the movie’s going to be?’ And he say, ‘You wanna SEE it?’ He’d finished cutting it and had it on a laptop. Right there, he shows me the movie!’ (LAUGHS)
“He’s a phenomenal director, a prodigious talent with a non-stop brilliant mind. He’s been pushing himself since the very beginning. Sometimes failing, but always pushing.”
Damon is “a little miffed, frankly” at the “Oscar snub” his pal and sometime collaborator Ben Affleck seems to have gotten over “The Town.”
“Don’t get me started, but he did such a great job writing and directing that, and acting in it. At least some acknowledgement for the screenplay. And there are ten best picture nominees, It wasn’t one of the ten best? I think so. Anyway, he’s hot as a firecracker right now. I’m glad to see it.”
I’m interviewing The Farrelly Brothers on Friday about “Hall Pass,” their new comedy. Damon and Greg Kinnear played conjoined twins in their comedy, “Stuck on You” some years back. Damon has a vivid recollection of working with those guys, too.
“My favorite direction I’ve ever receieved was from Peter Farrelly. Greg and I were wearing the suit, stuck together. We do a take and it just doesn’t work. I’d flubbed a line, Greg missed one of his cues and there was this long pause after we hear “Cut” over the walkie-talkies. They were sitting way over in Video Village, where the monitors were. Must have been a quarter of a mile away.
“And Greg goes, ‘Well that stunk. Let’s just go right away’ We were hoping they’d keep the cameras rolling and we’d take another shot at the scene.
“But we see Peter walking all the way over to the set. Long walk. Greg says, ‘Oh nooo. He’s coming ALL the way over just to give us a note. Not good.’
“Peter’s chewing gum. And he finally gets over to us, looks at me, looks down at his feet, takes a long pause, ‘Um, yeah, hmmmm.’ Looks back up at me and finally just says — ‘Suck less!’”
“Greg and I go ‘Yeah, THANKS Peter. We got it.’ He turns around and walks all the way back to the monitors.”