Matt Damon on George Clooney, parenting » Manila Bulletin Entertainment

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Los Angeles – One of the busiest and most humble actors in Hollywood is 47-year-old Matt Damon whom we interviewed recently for his two movies coming out this year – “Suburbicon” which is written and directed by his buddy George Clooney, and the sci-fi comedy-drama “Downsizing” which is written and directed by Alexander Payne.

Simply wearing a black shirt and pants, the Harvard-educated actor-writer talked about his friendship with Clooney, who has now become a father of twins. Does Clooney ever ask him for parenting tips, what with Damon having four daughters?

Matt Damon
(Photo courtesy of Janet R. Nepales/HFPA)

“I couldn’t give him tips on twins,” Damon admitted and broke into a smile. “I have no idea what to do with twins.”

“As for our friendship, it has evolved over the years. When we started working together at the turn of the century, literally, we were both single guys and very focused on our careers. Obviously, that has just evolved over the last 17 or 18 years to a place where, I didn’t ever think we would get, which is him married with twins. So that definitely impacts the way we talk and work together.

“He found out about the twins while we were making ‘Suburbicon.’ He pulled me aside on the set into the corner of the stage we were shooting on and whispered it to me. We gave each other hugs and then went back to work and pretended like nothing happened. But I always knew he would make a great father and so I’m happy he finally jumped in.”

In “Suburbicon” which is the story of an idyllic, peaceful suburban community that experiences a disturbing reality when a black family moves in, Damon’s character tries to navigate the town’s underbelly of betrayal, deceit and violence. Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac also star.

So how was the ambiance on the set of this movie?

“We had a lot of fun,” Damon replied. “It was very relaxed. I visited George on the first set that he directed which was, ‘Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind’ and even back then the mood was just very, very relaxed. We all believe that is the best way to get the best work. When everyone is relaxed and given space to do their work. We all have a job to do. We are aware of the job but there is no reason at this point in our careers that it can’t be a pleasant experience. He was really good at creating a good space for everyone to get their work done.”

And how hard was that riding a small bike in the movie which Clooney intentionally made him ride?

“I had to throw my knees out to the side,” he confessed. “It was pretty challenging. They had a few of the bikes there. We were going to test out which one. I finally got on the one we used and George just doubled over laughing and said ‘that’s the one, that’s the one.’”

A scene from ‘Downsizing’

A scene from ‘Downsizing’

As for working with the young British actor Noah Jupe who acted as his character’s son Nicky Lodge, Damon revealed that Noah was incredible.

“I have worked with a lot of kid actors and normally what more often than not, it’s the parents living their own dreams through the kids and the kids don’t really want to be there,” he pointed out. “Noah wants to be there and he loves it. He is just a naturally talented kid. He is incredible. There’s a scene at the end when he was sitting there and he’s crying, looking at me with tears rolling down his face. George was working with him. At the end of the take when George says ‘Cut,’ he just smiles and high-fives George. He really got it. He really loves acting and loves being an actor. It was fun watching him.”

With most of Hollywood couples splitting up, Damon and his wife Luciana Bozan Barroso whom he has been married to for the past 12 years, remain strong and stable. So what is the secret of their relationship?

“First of all, I think I got really lucky,” he confessed. “I think so much of it is who you choose to be with. I’ve always said that the concept of marriage seems totally insane to me. But I just love being married to my wife. So, I think in that way, I was really lucky to find her.

“But yes, there is work. It is a work in progress. We listen to each other and communicate really well. We are willing to do the work that it takes. We both still want to be there and that helps obviously. We have a lot of fun together.”

As for the movie “Downsizing,” Damon portrays Paul who together with his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig), decides to go through a procedure of shrinking into five inches tall and join a new downsized community to abandon their stressed lives. The movie also stars Christoph Waltz and upcoming Vietnamese-Thai actress, Hong Chau.

Has he ever downsized anything?

“10 years ago, I lived out of a duffel bag,” he narrated. “I was living from movie to movie out of the duffel bag. So I had my life in one bag and that was kind of as downsized as I’ve gone. But that was really fun. It was before I had kids. I was at an age where I could do that. There is something really liberating about not owning stuff.”

So is there something that he would like to downsize?

“That’s a good question,” he said. “We’ve spent summers in Costa Rica where we have lived simply. We come back and we’re wondering why we even have a house here. So I go through phases where I definitely think about downsizing.”

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