Matt Damon talks family, his career and how the pandemic changed cinema

Matt Damon stars as "Bill" in director Tom McCarthy's 'Stillwater.'
Jessica Forde / Focus Features

By María Estévez, MWN

“Stillwater” is a crime drama film in which star Matt Damon transforms into an unemployed oil rig worker on a mission to free his daughter from a French prison. At the center of the story is a father-daughter relationship, and Damon shares how becoming a parent has made him more empathetic to the characters.

Damon said that the film shows “what we perceive as America today” and thanked the French co-writers Thomas Bidegain and Noe Debre, who were able to offer a more objective perspective on the U.S.-inspired elements of the film.

Metro recently sat down with Damon to learn more. 

Why did you decide to work on “Stillwater”?

I have daughters and I can see myself in the shoes of the character. Since I’ve had kids, things are a lot more available in my job, emotionally speaking. It is all right there. A parent always loves their child and a child always loves their parent. I also found the script to be so beautifully written.

This movie is reminiscent of the Amanda Knox case.

I was pretty fascinated with the Amanda Knox case. I did a deep dive. It served as an initial inspiration. The origin of the premise came from a father and daughter and their strained relationship. This is a culturally very specific place and I am sure this character would almost certainly have voted for Donald Trump.

Tell more about your character, Bill Baker.

He is a tough guy from Oklahoma. Muscular, strong, like many there. When he moves to France in search of a new lead that could exonerate his daughter, he transforms himself little by little. 

You are one of the few actors who never causes a scandal. What keeps you grounded?

I think I was very lucky to fall in love with a woman who does not work in the entertainment industry. It is she who keeps me on my feet in the real world. In Hollywood, there is a huge voracity to feed the ego appearing in magazines that employ the paparazzi. What sells is sex and scandal. I’m not interested in any of that.

Jessica Forde / Focus Features

Have you regretted any movies that you didn’t make?

I did not do “The Fighter” and the right actor got the part. It was in Christian Bale’s destiny.

So, do you believe in destiny?

It seems to me that sometimes fortune is on our side. But the decisions we make are the ones that influence your life. I want to think that we choose what happens to us, although sometimes luck plays its role.

Do you always think about the future?

Yes, of course, like everyone else. But I enjoy the present. The future makes me curious, but right now, what I really want is to be with my family. When I put on the news I get depressed.

Do you think movie theaters will recover after the pandemic?

I was thrilled to see how everyone was applauding every movie at the Cannes Film Festival. That is a reminder of why we do this and why we get together. I was moved to tears during the premiere as my emotions about the pandemic taking cinema away for over a year were heightened.

Matt Damon (left) and Camille Cottin (right) star in ‘Stillwater.’Jessica Forde / Focus Features

Will you keep working?

Now that I have just turned forty, I think a little more about the future and what I have left to live. I am a man who has been very lucky, I have lived wonderful things, I have a career that I cannot complain about, a wonderful family, we are healthy… I do what I like. I am grateful for what I have from the moment I get out of bed. 

What makes you choose one project or another?

The director. I work based on who directs the film.

Do you plan to work with Ben Affleck again?

We are talking about doing various things. He wants to direct, I also want to direct, we want to produce and continue acting. We can generate good material. We needed to be together to work together.

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