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article imageMatt Damon recounts his perilous journey to his ‘Promised Land' Special

By Earl Dittman     Jan 4, 2013 in Entertainment
According to Hollywood’s Everyman, the road to the critically-acclaimed ‘Promised Land’ was one fraught with extreme highs and lows. However, the team of Damon, John Krasinski & Gus Van Sant would go on to create one of the best films of the year.
Unbridled success – particularly in the image-obsessed, ego-stroking environment of Tinsel Town – can often do strange, irreversible damage to the personalities of many of the actors and actresses who are lucky enough to attain it. In actuality, there are a vast number of flourishing "movie stars" who were pretty decent human beings before they became box office titans, critic’s darlings, highly-paid celebrities and/or tabloid targets. Once they'd climbed their way onto the top rungs of the Hollywood ladder of fame, however, for some unexplained reason, almost overnight, many of them are transformed into elitist, arrogant divas or ego-inflated, conceited enfant terribles.
Oscar-winning actor, writer, producer and director Matt Damon, however, is not one of those attention-starved, self-loathing film celebrities – not by a long shot.
Matt Damon stars in the film  Promised Land   directed by Gus Van Sant from a script written by Damo...
Matt Damon stars in the film 'Promised Land,' directed by Gus Van Sant from a script written by Damon and John Kransinski.
Focus Features
Matthew Paige Damon – who rose to fame after winning an Academy Award for co-writing (with his childhood buddy, Ben Affleck) the screenplay for director Gus Van Sant’s iconic 1997 motion picture Good Will Hunting – is still the same talented, forthcoming, polite, genial and down-to-earth guy that this journalist first met (the year before his Oscar win) to chat about his role in Courage Under Fire. (We’ve subsequently met and spoken over a dozen-plus times since 1996 – through the three Bourne films, the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy to 2011's We Bought A Zoo). Never, since that very first day we exchanged handshakes, sixteen years ago, has Damon ever displayed any visible signs or symptoms of being a person suffering from an insidious case of self-importance. It's safe to say, the terms “celebrity,” “superstar” or “sex symbol” mean almost nothing to People Magazine’s one-time “Sexiest Man Alive” cover boy. In all likelihood, those showbiz labels probably don’t even exist in his daily verbal lexicon.
This writer is not the only person who subscribes to the school of thought that Damon has remained one of the most down-to-earth dudes in Hollywood, despite being considered one of the biggest film stars on the planet. Dozens of other journalists and almost all of his Hollywood contemporaries would have no hesitation in echoing my sentiments. A prime example would be Good Will Hunting helmsman Gus Van Sant, who just finished directing the 42-year-old Damon and The Office's John Krasinski in the one of the best films of 2012, Promised Land (which Matt and John co-wrote together). The Oscar-nominated filmmaker (Milk, Goodwill Hunting) is in total agreement with my assessment of Damon’s genuine, uncorrupted, optimistic disposition – a rarity in the world of A-list actors. “Matt isn’t very much different from the (25-year-old) kid I met on Good Will Hunting,” confesses Van Sant, during a conversation in Los Angeles to promote Promised Land. "Of course, he's older, but he hasn't changed. He really respects other people and just gets on with it."
Land man Steve Butler (Damon) on the streets of a small American town.
Land man Steve Butler (Damon) on the streets of a small American town.
Focus Features
In other words, Damon is, and always has been, one heck of a nice, normal guy. In actuality, Matt could easily be considered Hollywood’s Everyman poster boy. So, why am I making such a fuss, shamelessly gushing and heaping copious amounts of lavish praise on Matt Damon? Because, as aforementioned, he is a member of a very tiny, exclusive club of bankable, much-in-demand actors and actresses who refuse to live their lives like the stereotypically bratty and condescending superstars we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing on Entertainment Tonight or reading about in the tabloids.
Consequently, when Damon is a major component of such an important and brilliantly-conceived motion picture as Promised Land – a wonderfully poignant and thought-provoking cautionary tale that pits the greedy interests of a giant natural gas corporation against the safety and rights of small-town Americans – you can bet the farm it’s well worth your hard-earned dollars to catch the Van Sant-directed film at your neighborhood multiplex (and equally deserving of your valuable time to relish in discovering a thing or two about how it was made, straight from the mouth of the man who assisted in creating the phenomenal project).
It’s an unusually dreary December Los Angeles morning outside the upscale Beverly Hills auberge where Matt Damon and I are scheduled to have our tête-à-tête to discuss his participation in Promised Land. It comes as no great surprise that the dismal weather conditions outside the Four Seasons Hotel have done nothing to dampen Matt’s sunny disposition. Bopping into the hotel suite set aside for his day of interviews, an unaccompanied Damon (without a publicist or handler by his side) immediately begins joking about the holiday blockbuster The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure (which would be in theatres by the time Promised Land began its limited, Oscar-qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles on December 28, 2012, before opening wide across North America on January 4, 2013).
Dressed in a simple pair of jeans and a plaid shirt, donning a pair of thick, black-framed eyeglasses and sporting a short, close to the scalp haircut, Damon immediately tries to dissipate any tension in the room by jokingly declaring, ‘You know, we’ve been thinking we should have put Hobbits in Promised Land to help sell the movie,” he says with a smile and a handshake. “What do you think?,” he asks, rhetorically, as he sits down to begin our chat.
Focus Features
Releasing a “smaller” film at the same time as such big-budgeted, major studio movies such as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure, Les Misérables and Zero Dark Thirty would concern most novice writer, producer and leading man types. But, of course, we are talking about a consummate pro like Matt Damon. "We’re really happy with Promised Land,” he confidently admits, when asked about his film going up against such highly-anticipated cinematic behemoths. “But, it's funny that our small, low-budget movie, that we did for eighteen million, will be out at this time of the year. It's like we're saying, 'Let's go up against The Hobbit. We're cool, we've got this. So, what else is coming out? Zero Dark Thirty? Yeah, that's not going to be a big hit either.' We'll take them.’ It’s like, ‘Go, Promised Land!’” he says with a laugh, pumping his fist into the air above him.
Matt Damon and Emily Blount in  The Adjustment Bureau
Matt Damon and Emily Blount in 'The Adjustment Bureau'
Damon’s journey on the road to Promised Land began when he co-starred with actress Emily Blunt in The Adjustment Bureau. The English-born Blunt (Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, Looper) is the wife of John Krasinski, the part-time film leading man (Away We Go, Something Borrowed) and one of the major players on the long-running television sitcom The Office. During the shooting of The Adjustment Bureau in 2010, Blunt and Krasinski became fast friends with Damon and his wife of seven years, Luciana (Barroso). “We started to go out to dinner as a couple, because my wife and I just really hit it off with John and Emily, and we started seeing them a lot,” Matt fondly recalls.
John Krasinski on the long-running sitcom  The Office
John Krasinski on the long-running sitcom 'The Office'
In retrospect, Damon says he discovered a unique quality in Krasinski’s character that reminded him of another close friend of his. “When I met John, I felt like I did when I met George Clooney for the first time,” he admits. “Everybody knew George as the guy from E.R. and that’s really the way that people viewed him at the time. But, anybody who knew George knew that he wasn’t just the guy from E.R. He’s like phenomenally talented and he knows about all these different things. That’s also how I feel about John. He’s a great writer, actor, producer and he’s directed a movie...the breath and the scope of his talent is pretty vast and impressive. So, I immediately started to try and find stuff that we could do together.”
Krasinski had been working on a early draft of a story that would eventually become Promised Land with screenwriter/producer Dave Eggers (Away We Go, Where The Wild Things Are). In the very early stages of writing the spec script, Eggers (who would earn a “story by” credit for his efforts) had to leave the project to finish a book he was penning. Finding himself without a writing partner, Krasinski decided to approach Damon with the work he had done on the screenplay with Eggers (initially titled Gold Mist) to see if Matt would be interested in possibly collaborating with him. Damon was immediately receptive to the idea. “Right after he asked me, I said to John, ‘Okay, let’s take a crack at it,’” he explains. “We were both pretty busy, though. John was doing his show, The Office, and I was doing We Bought A Zoo. But, I was working in Los Angeles, so John just started showing up at my house on weekends. He would show up at breakfast, and we would have breakfast, and then we’d start working. We’d work all day Saturday, and we would end with dinner.”
Matt Damon on the set of  We Bought A Zoo  with director Cameron Crowe
Matt Damon on the set of 'We Bought A Zoo' with director Cameron Crowe
Matt, who is now the proud papa of four very young daughters, says that Krasinski became such a frequent visitor to the Damon household that he decided to make him a honorary nanny. “He was around the house all the time that I had him help out with the kids, but I didn't make him do diapers,” he swears laughingly. “He definitely had kids crawling all over him. If you walked into the room at the time, you would say, ‘There is no way that a script is going to come out of this.’ But, when you’re writing a script, you are not totally focused. We took a lot of little breaks all the time. A kid would run in and we would give someone a horse-y ride, and then she’d run out of the room, and you‘d go, ‘Oh, now I now what we can say in the next line in the script.’ Actually, it was a very fluid process. We'd write on those weekends and then go back to our day jobs, but still mark up in the margins and make notes on the script, so we‘d be ready five days later for another Saturday morning session. We just started to put that stuff in. It took shape really quickly. So, it was clear, very early on, that we were going to do it.”
Once Damon and Krasinski had finished a screenplay of Promised Land that they were both pleased with, they both began to hand the script out to close friends and confidantes. “I showed it to Ben Affleck and a few other friends,” Matt reveals. “John showed it to a few friends, and he showed it to Aaron Sorkin (the creator, producer and writer of The West Wing and The Newsroom). Although it was an early draft, all those guys were really positive about it.” After getting such affirmative vibes from their pals, the duo instinctively knew it was the perfect time to start sharing the script with potential co-cast members. The first actor on their wish list was Oscar-winning Best Actress Frances McDormand (Fargo), for whom they had tailored-written a role specifically for her.
“Frances played my mom in a TNT movie in 1994 called The Good Old Boys, that Tommy Lee Jones directed, and that’s where I met her – that was eighteen years ago,” Damon explains. “I’ve kept in touch with her over the years. She lives right near me in New York, so I walked a script over and dropped it at her apartment building. Luckily, she read it really quickly and emailed us and said, ‘I love it! I love the character and I love the writing.’ At that time, I was going to direct it, and that was part of the deal. So, it was just a really nice compliment to us. John and I went, ‘Okay, we are definitely on the right track.'"
No, that wasn’t a typo. If you have been carefully following this story, you already know that Gus Van Sant directed Promised Land. So, what in the heck happened to change Damon’s mind about directing his and Krasinski’s prospective cinematic baby? As Damon tells it, December 15, 2011 was the fateful day he made the tough call of firing himself as the director of Promised Land. “It was my last day of work for the year,” Matt vividly remembers. “The Neill Blomkamp film (Elysium) was pretty much over, but I had been away from my kids for quite a while making it. Earlier that December, when I got back from filming Elysium (in Vancouver, Canada), I still had two really intense weeks of press commitments that I had to do for We Bought A Zoo. It was tough. But, on December 15th, my last thing to do was The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Afterwards, I went home and my year was officially over. I was so happy, because I could leave New York and just be with my family on a beach in Florida. But, then, I looked at the calendar and realized to get Promised Land out in a year, as the director, I had to go into pre-production for it on January 2nd (2012). I just couldn't leave my kids again.”
John Krasinski in a scene from  The Office
John Krasinski in a scene from 'The Office'
NBC Universal
Damon knew what he had to do next, and it was going to be one of the toughest tasks he's ever undertaken. “I had to call John, first, with the news, which was horrible,” the Boston-native says of the dreaded telephone call he would have to make to his creative partner-in-crime. “We produced it together, so after I let him know what I had decided he was like, ‘Couldn’t you have told me this a month ago?’ Because it was December 15th, he was like, ‘Dude, we can’t even get our agent on the phone right now, let alone a director.’ Sadly, he was right,” he says, with a laugh. “What was even worse was that Warner Brothers had given us the money for it, they were backing the movie, because of me, because I have a deal there. However, Promised Land, obviously, is not a Warner-type movie. I mean, it is a much smaller movie. They were really just doing it out of support, which was really great of them. But, I knew the second that I told them, ‘Look, I’m not going to direct it,’ they were going to drop it. Which they did, but they very politely said, ‘Well, you are really the only reason that we were backing it. This isn’t what we do, really.’ So, I lost our director and our money – all in one day.”
Surprisingly, Damon had come to terms with the fact that he would not be directing Promised Land – and with the harsh reality that all their financial backing had gone south. “It was the right decision, and I said that to John,” he admits. “I said, 'I don't know what's going to happen? But, I know this is the right decision, and I know there is going to be a great director who will want to do it. Look at the script, John. You know it’s good.’”
John Krasinski in a scene from  Promised Land
John Krasinski in a scene from 'Promised Land'
Focus Features
Krasinski, on the other hand, wasn’t as okay with Damon’s decision to bail out at the eleventh hour as his partner was. In fact, Krasinski was nearly inconsolable. “Even after I told him I was convinced we would find somebody to direct it, John was like, ‘Whatever, man, whatever!’” Although, Damon was completely at peace with his last-minute change of heart, he was still wracked with guilt over the way he felt he had let Krasinski down. “The next morning, I was leaving to go to Florida with my family, and I was sitting on a plane feeling horrible,” he remembers. “So, I emailed my friend, Gus Van Sant, and told him everything that had happened. He emailed me back, right before we had to switch our phones off. He emailed me back, in about two minutes saying, 'I love your writing, and I would love to read your script.’”
Damon was elated. The prediction that he had made to Krasinski, just the night before, that a great director would immediately jump at the chance to assist them in navigating their cherished Promised Land to a safe port of call was coming true. However, in his excited state, Damon hadn’t noticed that the airplane doors had long been shut and the demand for all the passengers to shut off their electrical gadgets had been made over the intercom. “I was at that point that most people now call ‘The Alec Baldwin moment,’ where the flight attendant was like, 'Turn that phone off or I am going to come and take it from you!’” Matt remembers with a hearty laugh, referencing the unfortunate, well-publicized incident that got the 30 Rock star ousted off of a commercial flight. “I was begging with the flight attendant, telling them, 'This is not (the electronic game app) Words With Friends, this is serious! It's Gus Van Sant!’” The flight attendant was nonplussed. “That’s when I quickly forwarded the script over to Gus from my Blackberry. I forwarded it as fast as I could, and when when I was done, I switched it off, and I said, ‘Okay, okay, it’s off!’” Damon adds, still chuckling over the incident..
John Krasinski  GUs Van Sant and Matt Damon at the Director s Guild of America premiere of  Promised...
John Krasinski, GUs Van Sant and Matt Damon at the Director's Guild of America premiere of 'Promised Land'
Eric Charnonne-WireImage/Focus Features
By the time the Damon clan's plane touched down in Florida, roughly two hours later, Promised Land was no longer an orphaned screenplay in need of an adoptive filmmaker. "When we were able to turn on our phones, I had gotten an email from Gus saying how much he loved the story and the script," he recalls. "He said, 'I'd love to do it. When can we start?'" Within weeks of Van Sant's decision to direct Promised Land, financing was secured from the tightly-run powerhouse studio Focus Features, a thirty-day shooting schedule was set in stone and principal photography commenced in April 2012. “It was a really accelerated thing,” he confesses. “I mean, we shot it in thirty days, versus Good Will Hunting, which was the exact same-sized budget, but we had forty-eight days back then to do it. But, while we were filming Promised Land, it felt like we had forty-eight days. It was really a luxurious pace that we were moving at. Really relaxed. With Gus, that’s the kind of energy that he puts out all the time. Gus is fifteen years down the road, in terms of his experience, and he doesn’t use much coverage. It was really great. On the second day of filming we started pulling things up on the schedule, because we were so far ahead.”
Van Sant had already shaved six weeks off the pre-production sked for the film (“Just because he could, and he is so experienced") and brought the movie in on budget and presented it to Focus Features – an impressive four weeks ahead of schedule. Shortly thereafter, Focus placed it on it’s late-December 2012/early-January 2013 release calendar. Needless to say, Damon was pleasantly shocked. “Initially, I thought Focus was leaning towards bringing it out sometime in 2013, just because they wanted to give Gus time to fine tune it,” he reveals. “But, after Gus showed them a rough cut of the movie – because he was done – all of a sudden, we had a release date.” Promised Land, for all intents and purposes, was ready for movie-going consumption – for audiences to view and enjoy. “It’s everything John and I hoped it would be,” Damon declares. “It’s the story that we really wanted to tell.”
Steve Butler (Damon) and Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand) arrive in town to obtain leases for the su...
Steve Butler (Damon) and Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand) arrive in town to obtain leases for the surrounding farmland in 'Promised Land'
Focus Features
In Promised Land, Matt Damon stars as Steve Butler, a corporate salesman and contemporary Everyman whose journey from farm boy to big-time player takes an unexpected detour when he lands in a small town, where he grapples with a surprising array of both open hearts and closed doors. Steve (Damon) has been dispatched by his Goliath-like nine billion dollar natural gas company to the rural town of McKinley with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand). The town has been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, and the two consummate sales executives see McKinley’s citizens as likely to accept their company’s offer – for drilling rights to extract gas from shale rock formation on their properties, in a process known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" – as much-needed relief. Steve scores at his very first attempt to obtain the signature of a financially-strapped farmer (Tim Guinee) worried about his young daughter’s future. However, what seems like an easy job and a short stay for Steve and Sue becomes complicated – professionally, by calls for community-wide consideration of the offer by respected schoolteacher Frank Yates (Hal Holbrook), and personally, by Steve’s encounter with Alice (Rosemarie DeWitt). When Dustin Noble (Krasinski), a slick environmental activist, arrives, suddenly the stakes, both personal and professional, rise to the boiling point.
Promised Land unabashedly reveals how traditional American values have changed in the milieu of a crippled economy. It distills questions that both Krasinski and Damon believe we should be asking ourselves. “We had been talking about American identity, at this moment in time, where we are in America right now – we wanted to take a snapshot of that,” Damon explains. “Fracking was the perfect issue to use as a backdrop because the stakes are so high. It's so polarizing, because people do have to engage with this issue. It's real. It's here. It was a perfect subject to show the human cost of losing your community to the will of a big corporation.
Hal Holbrook in a scene from  Promised Land
Hal Holbrook in a scene from 'Promised Land'
Focus Features
“We also wanted to talk about where we have been. I mean, the character that Hal (Holbrook) plays can speak with authority about where we come from and where we are, and were we are headed from here. Ultimately, it is a pro-community, pro-democracy type of film. If there is a message, that’s it. We wanted to end it with some hope.”
The film is inspired, in part, Damon says, by the “blue-collar” music of a certain iconic rock singer, songwriter from Asbury Park, New Jersey. “I know it’s going to sound weird, but when I heard Bruce Springsteen's album Wrecking Ball, it spoke to me,” he divulges. “John and I went to hear Bruce play at Madison Square Garden, right before we shot the film, and it was just one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences you never forget. That album is basically the arc of this movie. It really does express some of the same things.” Although none of the songs from Springsteen’s latest album appear in the film, the duo couldn’t resist the temptation to include at least one song from “The Boss” in Promised Land. “The influence (of Wrecking Ball) is really one of the reasons that we wanted to use his music, somewhere, in the film,” Matt explains. “So, we got ‘Dancing In The Dark,’ which is one of his finer songs. He was just the right guy to be using. That’s what he’s spent his career singing about – these kind of towns and these kind of people. There is also a book that Jack Sachs wrote called The Price Of Civilization and that was kind of the academic expression of this idea, and Springsteen is the musical expression of this idea. Promised Land is the movie version of it.”
During the initial process of writing the screenplay, Damon and Krasinski had discussed a number of widely different issues and locations to use as the backdrop for Promised Land. The duo talked about everything from wind-turbine subsidies, oil drilling, salmon harvesting in Alaska to coal mining. But, it was during a brief spell in which Damon had to leave Los Angeles (and temporarily suspend he and Krasinski’s Saturday writing sessions) to begin filming Elysium that Krasinski read an article about gas fracking and convinced Damon it would be the perfect setting for the story they wanted to tell. They immediately began researching the subject of hydraulic fracturing. As they discovered more and more about fracking, it quickly became evident to them that they had found the epicenter of their tale. “It was perfect for this idea about these decisions we make and short-term versus long-term consequences of our actions,” Matt explains.
While Promised Land presents all sides of the controversy surrounding hydraulic gas fracturing, the film, ultimately, allows the viewer to decide if the process is indeed dangerous or not. Having researched the subject exhaustively, what are Damon’s personal feelings about fracking? What are the statistics? Is it safe? Is it dangerous or a little of both? “We don’t know, we don’t where is it all going to end?" he confesses. “But, that’s the whole idea, it’s like, ‘What is the rate of methane leakage? Is it clean?’ They don't know. That’s the thing. That’s the gamble. You have people on one side saying, 'We need this. This is going to be a boom for everybody. This is great. And, this is for geo-political reasons.' Then, there are people on the other side who go, 'Well, I know this is a lifeline to some people and some people are getting rich or some people are hanging onto the farms. Do you take your daughters to the whorehouse when times are tough?' The question is really the science. Governor (Mario) Cuomo, in New York, recently said, ‘I’m waiting to see what the science says about the long term environmental impact, because the jury is still out.’
“If you talk to some of the families, because we’ve talked to families who have been affected, also politicians and land men – because I play a land man in the movie – so I talked to real land men about it,” he continues. “I wanted to know what their angle was and how they did it. But, there are people who claim that this use of their land has absolutely ruined their lives. And, there are people who say, 'Now, I'm a millionaire, and I’m really happy.’ I asked one guy, ‘Don’t you worry about your water after the drilling?’ He said, ‘For what they are paying me, I’ll haul my water. I don't care.’ (laughs) He said, ’I don’t care about neighbors. I don’t care about anybody. I’m making money. I'll buy water in bottles if I have to.’ We simply don’t know.”
Although the subject of fracking certainly drives Promised Land, Damon hopes that movie-goers come away from the film with a deeper realization that cavernous cracks are not only occurring on actual U.S. soil but also in the landscape of America’s collective psyche. “Above all, this is a human story, we didn't want to do an issue movie,” he offers. “Honestly, we set out to make this movie about this moment in America, and it led us, eventually to natural gas, because the stakes are so unbelievably high, it was so much better for the story that we wanted to tell.”
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck winning the Academy Award for Good Will Hunting
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck winning the Academy Award for'Good Will Hunting'
Academy Awards/Focus Features
Mission accomplished. Since its limited release in New York City and Los Angeles (on December 28), Promised Land has already garnered a spot on several prestigious critic associations’ Top Ten Films of 2012 lists. There is also an incredible amount of Oscar buzz surrounding Van Sant’s direction, Damon and Krasinski’s original screenplay and the compelling performances delivered by Matt, John, Frances McDormand and Hal Holbrook.
A veteran of countless hit-or-miss award seasons, Damon is just happy that people, particularly his contemporaries in the film community, are even using Academy Awards and Promised Land in the same sentence. However, the Oscar-winner learned a long ago how to keep the kudos and predictions in perspective. “You never really know what is going to happen at the Oscars until they open the envelope," he says. "Just the fact that so many people are saying great things about something you’ve done is enough of a validation for me.”
Matt Damon portrays Scott Thorson in the Steven Soderbergh-directed Liberace biopic  Behind The Cand...
Matt Damon portrays Scott Thorson in the Steven Soderbergh-directed Liberace biopic 'Behind The Candelabra'
Even though it doesn’t air on HBO (in the States) until May, Damon is also getting early rave reviews for his dazzling performance in the Liberace biopic, Behind The Candelabra. In the Steven Soderbergh-directed film, Damon portrays Liberace’s one-time bodyguard-turned-gay lover Scott Thorson, opposite Michael Douglas, who plays the legendary, extravagant, over-the-top piano-tickling performer. Reportedly, Douglas and Damon reenact several “intimate” moments that transpired during Liberace’s tabloid headline-grabbing relationship with Thorson. When asked about his thoughts on making Behind The Candelabra, Damon (who is cautious about revealing any spoilers in the film’s plot) tactfully replies, “I’m proud of it, and I’m really excited about it, but I hope to talk you more about it closer to its airing.”
Knowing I can probably get him to reveal a little more about his work in the original HBO production, I blatantly ask Damon what it was like to lock lips with his costar, Michael Douglas. Damon begins to laugh. “You know, there are only a few of us who know what it’s like – they say,” he blushingly jokes about exchanging kisses with the long-married Douglas. “Catherine (Zeta-Jones) and I both know what it’s like, but I don’t kiss and tell.”
Tim Guinee (with Anna Lise Phillips) in the current television ratings hit  Revolution
Tim Guinee (with Anna Lise Phillips) in the current television ratings hit 'Revolution'
What a gentleman. It should come as no surprise that Damon won’t discuss his romantic conquests, even if they are fictional ones committed during the making of a movie. While he is still chuckling about the kiss query, a studio rep walks in to inform us our time together is up. As he stands up and prepares to leave, I casually mention that a mutual friend of ours, his Promised Land co-star Tim Guinee (Revolution, Iron Man, Sweet Land) sends his regards. Instead of politely acknowledging my comment and then rushing out of the room to get to his next interview, Damon immediately sits back down to recount an amusing story about his and Guinee’s late-night search for fast food in El Paso, Texas, after a long day of filming battle sequences for the Edward Zwick-directed Courage Under Fire – in 1995.
“We were like, starving,” he says fondly, with a huge smile, clearly enjoying recalling the memory. “We didn’t have a car, but across the highway was a Pizza Hut. So, we went to the Pizza Hut. Tim ordered a Meat Lover’s Pizza and this thing showed up and, literally, if you took all this stuff and just piled it on a pizza, that’s what it looked like. I mean, one bite was like a full hamburger. So, we’ve been talking about it for almost twenty years now. We really had a great time.”
Matt Damon and John Krasinski in  Promised Land
Matt Damon and John Krasinski in 'Promised Land'
Focus Features
Pausing for a moment of deep contemplation, the always attentive and thoughtful Damon can’t resist praising his old friend’s performance as a desperate landowner in Promised Land. “Tim is the farmer, the first one that Steve, my character, goes to,” he glowingly explains to the studio publicist who has entered the suite. “Tim is so good in that scene. He is brilliant as he is hanging on Steve’s every word, as he’s telling him, ‘You could be a millionaire.’ You can just see how much he needs it...Tim’s a great actor and a great guy.”
Matt Damon stars in  Promised Land
Matt Damon stars in 'Promised Land'
Focus Features
With that said, Damon is pleadingly reminded by the rep that he needs to get to his next appointment. He begrudgingly stands up again, exchanges handshakes and says his goodbyes. “Thanks, that was fun,” Matt earnestly admits. “See you next time.”
You can turn Matt Damon into an affluent, highly-in-demand, major Hollywood movie star, but you can never replace the genuine, affable and well-mannered Boston-bred kid that remains within him to this day. You can bet the farm on it.
Promised Land opens in theaters across North America on Friday, January 4, 2013. (Check local listings for showtimes). For more on the film, visit
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