MATT DAMON | THE TALENTED MR. SMILEY

Posted on August 3, 2010

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+This post contains some lovely spoilers on The Talented Mr Ripley

“Some time ago, he says, a friend advised him to come up with an “alter ego” for these interviews, “so your soul doesn’t get, y’know, robbed by doing these things.” He calls this personality Mike Smiley, and says that when he watches footage of these interviews he sees Mike Smiley instead of himself.”

I recently ran across this article on Matt Damon from the Washington Post. Titled ‘The Two Faces Of Matt Damon’ it’s from a while back (July 19th 2004) around the release of The Bourne Supremacy. I’ve always assumed Matt Damon as the quiet, polite, homely guy off-screen. Never drinking too much, no smoking, extremely naive I know. Even after viewing a particularly disturbing and well executed performance in The Talented Mr Ripley I still had this impression which I’m putting down to his handsomely trusting looks. For effect I’ve chosen a screenshot in which he looks particularly boyish and trusting and not at all disturbing.

Matt Damon | ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ (1999)

Matt leaves the body count at four in the film and at one point clobbers Jude Law to death with an oar – acting out many boyfriends fantasy and many girlfriends worst nightmare. He also manages to clobber Phillip Seymour Hoffman with a statue’s head and strangle Jack Davenport. I find most people i know greet Matt Damon with the same tepid response they give to Coldplay. Now I’m guessing the major reason for this reaction is that his success, talent and good looks might, just might, incite a little jealousy in the everyday guy.

Matt Damon among George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Elliot Gould and Don Cheadle in Ocean’s Eleven | (2001)

With George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven | (2001)

Many of my colleagues, friends, family (male) describe him with words like ‘snoozy’, vapid, eh and um. I thought I’d create this post to make a point that he is more than umm, he really is a great method actor. He was losing the pounds for ‘Courage Under Fire’ (1998) long before Christian Bale did for The Machinist (2004). A frequent argument at the bar concerns the fact that they can’t take him seriously, that he’s just one of those actors that is so famous, so well-known that it’s hard to believe the characters he portrays on-screen. I’d disagree however and say that the reason I enjoy his movies is because (like fellow method actors Edward Norton and Daniel Day-Lewis for example) he is willing to transform himself, both mentally and physically, to make any portrayal on-screen realistic and complex.

Matt Damon in ‘Courage Under Fire’ | (1996)

It’s well-known that Matt Damon lost 40lbs to play the drug addicted Llorio:

“consequently [he] damaged his health so much that he needed medical supervision for months afterwards. For three and a half months, his diet consisted only of baked potatoes, coffee and cigarettes.”   from moviesandlife.com

During his Actors Studio interview (aired January 2007) he discusses the role that although garnered him some critical acclaim, went largely unnoticed. Owing to the fact that he needed medical care afterwards it’s not hard to understand why he was so disheartened. The whole interview is a great insight into his career up to 2007 and is currently available on youtube in five parts , I’ve put the first part here for you to get started.

Matt Damon…Actors Studio Interview | (2007)

Inside the Actors Studio…Matt Damon | 2007

Matt Damon and Edward Norton in ‘Rounders’ | (1998)

Matt Damon in ‘Rounders’ | (1998)

A mustache, layers of flab and a side parting help Matt Damon to portray the fumbling, middle-aged compulsive liar turned spy for the FBI – Mark Whitmore.

In ‘The Informant!’ directed by Steven Soderbergh | (2009)

In ‘The Informant!’ | (2009)

In ‘The Informant’ | (2009)

With director Steven Soderbergh | (2009)

Where it all kicked off…

Good Will Hunting | (1997)

Maybe it’s just my friends, i don’t know…

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