Matt Damon is Jason Bourne. And not just on screen, where he’s playing everyone’s favourite former CIA operative for the fourth time. Life seems to be imitating art. Like the secret agent, the 45-year-old star is hard to pin down. In a heart-to-heart with The Red Bulletin, he reveals that, despite appearances, he’s actually nothing like big-screen
The Red Bulletin: You’re returning in your trademark role of agent Jason Bourne, who has a lot of anger issues. Do you share these?
Matt Damon: Let’s say I carry a lot of myself into a role like this. Life can be frustrating at times.
For example, in the past, it was really frustrating as a friend to see Ben Affleck mischaracterised so often and so blithely by so many people. Fortunately, no one ever is going to roll their eyes again when I suggest that he’s a really talented guy. And my kids can also frustrate me no end.
But we imagine that you don’t fly off the handle with them like Jason Bourne would…
Not in public, because it would end up on YouTube. [Laughs.] I’m lucky because I don’t hold onto negative emotions for long. Like everyone I have these pent-up conflicts, but a lot of it passes through me easier than with most people.
Why is that?
Because I get to work through a lot of it in my job. I was with a friend recently at a wedding when something beautiful happened and he was in tears. He said, “That’s the first time I’ve cried in 20 years.” Whereas I cry all the time; in basically every movie I do. I am living my life through the conflicts of other people.
You and your wife have four daughters. How does living in such an oestrogen filled world affect you?
I don’t have anything to compare it to right now. When I grew up with a big brother, there was a lot more male energy around. And that meant we fought like crazy.
Is that just boys being boys?
We have kids from my girls’ class come over and they instantly take the toys and hit each other over the head with them. Whereas I don’t see that at all with my girls. They are more co-operative and nurturing, which is wonderful. It seems genetically encoded.
Do you think the world would be a better place if it was ruled by women?
Certainly in the current political system, the answer would be yes. I’m no shrink, but like I said, men seem to be quicker to stop talking and resolve our differences physically. Obviously, that’s not the state we want to live in on planet Earth. Geopolitically, fighting is not going to solve our problems.
But don’t you also need a certain level of aggressiveness in order to succeed?
There are other recipes. I remember talking to this Japanese gold prince and he told me one great thing. He said, at the top of your backswing, you have to say, “What the f—k.” By which he just meant let it go. Because if you try to control it too much, you’ll ruin it. Just let it go. And I thought that was good advice that also applied to my career.
Are you still saying, “What the f—ck to this day?
Every time I take on a movie. You have no idea how it’s going to turn out. This is a massive collaboration with a bunch of people and all of you are relying entirely on the director. It’s always a gamble with a lot at stake. When I did The Martian with Ridley Scott, this was a $110 million movie. It’s terrifying to be sitting on a soundstage with this other person going “It’s just me and you. Let’s get this right”.
When someone double-crosses you, do you ever fantasise about taking revenge the Jason Bourne way?
No. That’s a very human emotion, but I tend to get past it very quickly. Or else you can end up living in it and it will just consume you. The best revenge is living well.
Is that something you had to learn?
It is, to some extent, a question of life experience. My brother’s best friend was murdered when I was 19 and I remember going through the whole trial afterwards. The night these guys were found guilty and got convicted, I had this moment of elation and called my brother to say, “We got them.” And he just said, “Who f–king cares?” Obviously he didn’t mean they shouldn’t have gone to jail, but I put all my energy into this thinking that it would change what happened. And it didn’t change anything. There was no moment of sweet revenge. It was the reality of this new normal. You just have to handle the pain.
Your arch-enemy, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. [The two have been having a well-publicised faux-feud for many years, stemming from Kimmel’s refusal to have Damon on his show.] Do you think the two of you will ever smoke the peace pipe together?
Why so unforgiving?
Because he’s running for Vice-President now. And that’s what’s absolutely wrong with our country. He’s not even picked a Presidential running mate. Imagine it – Trump and Jimmy Kimmel would be the end of America. So I’m going to do everything that is in my power to campaign against him and make sure that that doesn’t happen
Find the full article on The Red Bulletin here, including Damon’s thoughts on how he coped with his friend being murdered at a young age, his long-held arch-enemy, Jimmy Kimmel and why the best revenge is to live well.
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