While on the promotional trail for his upcoming film “The Monuments Men,” Matt Damon took some time to stop by Reddit for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with fans.
The film, which opens Friday, has a huge ensemble cast of stars from George Clooney to Bill Murray, so while a lot of the questions had to do with Damon, there was also a bunch dealing with his co-stars, his friends in Hollywood, and their antics.
While some celebrities answer questions with brief responses, Damon spoke very candidly to fans about roles.
We’ve compiled some of the best highlights below. You can check out the full AMA here.
What the best prank his “Monuments Men” and “Ocean’s 11” co-star, George Clooney ever pulled on him:
“I got these giant fruit baskets in the mail from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. They had just made jokes at everyone’s expense at the Golden Globes that were really funny. George made up stationary with my name on it, and sent a really wounded letter to Tina and Amy saying my feelings were really hurt, how could they do this, etc. So they sent two fruit baskets. One had a letter with an apology. Another said ‘If this is part of some Clooney prank, please know that we’re grown-arse comedians, and you have to do a little better to fool us.'”
What he thought of his portrayal in “South Park” creator’s “Team America: World Police”:
“I thought it was brilliant! I mean, I never understood it, and then I heard an interview with them and they said the puppet came in looking kind of mentally deficient and they didn’t have time to change it, so they just made me someone who could really only say his own name. All the comedy they’re doing is really next-level stuff.”
When a fan asked Damon to recall the most challenging time in his life, he gave a very poignant response in which he references Philip Seymour Hoffman who passed away last week.
“Yeah, there are a number of kind of rugged times, particularly in a career like this. Nothing gets given to you, and you have to struggle for everything, and I think those struggles really do define who you are, and it’s really important. I’ve seen parents try to remove those struggles from their kids’ lives, to the detriment of the kid, and it’s something I think about a lot. I can’t make it too easy for my kids because that doesn’t really equip them to handle the world when I’m not around. Anytime you deal with death, anytime in my life on a personal level that I’ve lost someone, that’s always a moment to grieve and feel incredibly thankful that I’m still here and I’m still able to have my family around me. I’m just thinking of that because it’s kind of a s—– week because of Phil. It’s kind of on the brain.”
If he’s worried that Jimmy Kimmel (who’s had a fun rivalry with Damon for years) will show up and ruin his AMA:
“I’m actually Backstage at the Kimmel show. I’m hoping to be on tonight, I’m told I’m going to get on tonight for the first time in 10 years.”
The story behind this exchange between Damon and Reason TV, in which Damon defended teachers after his mother has been a life-long educator:
“I spoke to them at a rally for public school teachers a few years ago. My mum’s a professor and she’s become increasingly concerned, as a have a lot of teachers, about the way policy is being designed in this country. It’s being designed by a bunch of people who aren’t teachers. They talk about accountability, but they’re measuring with these standardized tests, which I believe in my heart they will start fading out. It just demonstrably does not work. No Child Left Behind does not work. I’ve always believed that they have to invite teachers into the discussion to help design policy. We would never let business men design warheads, why would you cut out educators when you’re designing education policy? So, one of those libertarian websites was there and they had a plan to attack a question about tenure. Diane Ravitch was there, she’s a huge figure in education and she jumped in and just set them straight about what having tenure meant. It just basically means you have the right to be represented, and have your side of something heard if someone was trying to get rid of you. But in terms of education policy, I think that far too much emphasis has been put on these tests. You’re going to get teachers teaching to the test and you’re not actually giving them the leeway to do their jobs.”
“In terms of advice – it’s tough. The business is growing more accessible because technology is more available to people than when we started you had to shoot on film and it was very hard to get a movie made, and now kids are starting to have access to cameras at a much earlier age. In terms of breaking into the business there’s no set way to do it, you have to somehow make a movie and get it out there. In Ben and my case we wrote a movie because we were struggling to get a job. We wrote jobs for ourselves. We wrote Robin William’s character, we called it the Harvey Keitel part, because with Reservoir Dogs Harvey read his part and liked it, and that how they got funding. So we knew that was that character for us. There were so were so many ways to play that character, we were casting a wide net and just hoping to we caught a big fish, and our agent Patrick, who’s still our agent, forced him to read it and he loved it. He kicked it up to the lit department, and then we had lit agents. So we got lucky, but it’s just looking for creative ways to break in. If you just sit on your hands it’s never gonna happen, its just too competitive. Jobs are available, you have to go make your own.”
He gets confused with Mark Wahlberg all the time:
“I do get confused with Mark Wahlberg a lot, and we just have a deal that whenever we get mistaken for each other we have to be very polite. Can’t give the other a bad name.
This happened to me yesterday, I was walking down the street with my kids, and this guy screamed “MARK WAHLBERG!” I just kept walking, because I’m not Mark, and he kept screaming “MARK WAHLBERG! I SEE YOU! DON’T WALK AWAY! MARK WAHLBERG! WE KNOW IT’S YOU!” and then he runs up to me and he says, “I love your work!” And then this woman comes up, and says “I love your family, tell your brother I said Hi!” So I said “Yes, I’ll tell Donnie Wahlberg you said Hi.”
If people are insistent, theres no convincing them I’m not Mark, so I just become him and try to be nice to them. My kids were with me and there’s no easy way to explain that situation to them.”
On coming up with the monologue about the NSA in “Good Will Hunting”:
“Well, the first thing to that monologue is it’s safe to say that is the hardest that Ben and I have ever laughed while writing something. We were in our old house in Hollywood, in the basement of this house writing this thing and we were literally in tears because this monologue kept building on itself. We wrote it it one night and kept performing it back and forth, and pissing ourselves laughing.
You know, I was unaware, as I think everyone was, that they had that capacity. Snowden is literally changing policy. These are conversations we have to have about our security, and civil liberties, and we have to decide what we are willing to accept, and he’s provided a huge service kickstarting that debate.”
You can watch the monologue below:
Damon joked about not landing a role as Robin alongside long-time friend Ben Affleck in the upcoming “Batman / Superman” movie.
“You are correct. After I didn’t get the part, it was really awkward between Ben and I for a while. But I’ve still got the costume I wore in the audition and am planning on wearing it when Ben and I meet the winners of our fundraiser.”
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