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Matthew Paige "Matt" Damon (born October 8, 1970) is an American actor, writer and philanthropist whose career was launched following the success of the film Good Will Hunting, from a screenplay he wrote with friend Ben Affleck. The pair won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay for the work and Damon garnered multiple nominations for Best Actor for his lead performance in the same film.

Damon has gone on to star in films such as Saving Private Ryan, The Talented Mr. Ripley, the Ocean's series, the Bourne series, Syriana, The Good Shepherd, and The Departed. He has received multiple award nominations for his film performances and has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker. Damon is one of the top thirty-five highest grossing actors of all time. In 2007, he was named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine.

Damon has been actively involved in charitable work, including the ONE Campaign, H2O Africa Foundation, and With his wife, Luciana Bozán Barroso, Damon has two daughters, Isabella and Gia, and stepdaughter Alexia from Barroso's prior marriage.

Early life

Matt Damon was born in Cambridgemarker, Massachusettsmarker, the son of Kent Telfer Damon, a stockbroker, and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early childhood education professor at Lesley University. Damon is of Finnish, English, and Scottish ancestry. Damon has a brother, Kyle, who is an accomplished sculptor and artist. He and his family lived in Newtonmarker for the first two years of his life, but after his parents divorced, Damon and his brother moved with his mother to Cambridge.

Damon grew up near Ben Affleck, a close friend since childhood and collaborator on several films, and historian and author Howard Zinn, whose biographical film You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train and audio version of A People's History of the United States Damon narrated. He attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Cambridge, and performed in several theater productions before graduating in 1988. He attended Harvard Universitymarker from 1988 to 1992 but did not graduate. He instead pursued acting projects, including the TNT original film Rising Son and ensemble prep-school drama School Ties. While at Harvard, he studied English and lived in Lowell Housemarker. He did not take part in student theater generally, but did appear in A... My Name is Alice (in one of the three male roles usually performed by women). Damon dropped out of the university to pursue his acting career in Los Angeles when Geronimo: An American Legend was expected to be a big success.

Acting career

Early years

His first film role came in 1988 when he was eighteen, with a single line of dialogue in the romantic comedy Mystic Pizza. Damon appeared in small roles before landing a big part in Geronimo: An American Legend with Gene Hackman and Jason Patric. He next appeared as an opiate-addicted soldier in 1996's Courage Under Fire. He was required to lose in 100 days (for only two days of filming). After following a self-prescribed diet and fitness regimen to lose the weight, Damon was told after filming that he was fortunate his heart did not shrink. Damon took medication for several years afterwards to correct the stress inflicted on his adrenal gland, and has stated that it was worthwhile to properly portray his character and show the industry how committed he was to the role. In 1995, he auditioned for a small role in Cutthroat Island, but was turned away.


Damon and Affleck wrote a screenplay about a young math genius, which they had pitched around Hollywood. Receiving advice from writer/director/actor Rob Reiner, screenwriter William Goldman, and their friend writer/director Kevin Smith, the two made changes to the script. The script eventually became Good Will Hunting, and received nine Academy Awards nominations, earning Damon and Affleck Oscars for Best Original Screenplay. Damon was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for the same film and the film netted an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for co-star Robin Williams. Damon and Affleck were each paid salaries of $500,000; the film grossed over $100 million at the box office. Damon and Affleck parodied their roles in the film in Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. After meeting Damon on the set of Good Will Hunting, director Steven Spielberg cast Damon as the titular character in the 1998 World War II film Saving Private Ryan.

Hollywood star

Damon has been known to choose a wide variety of film roles, from his portrayal of murderer Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr. Ripley, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor, to a fallen angel who discusses pop culture as intellectual subject matter in Dogma, in which he co-starred with Affleck (1999); from a conjoined twin in Stuck on You, to a film he co-wrote with friend Casey Affleck and Gus Van Sant with limited dialogue—the low budget experimental film Gerry. Damon has been part of two major film franchises. He played amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne in the successful action movies The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), and starred as the youthful, optimistic thief Linus Caldwell, opposite George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts in Steven Soderbergh's 2001 remake of the Rat Pack's 1960 caper classic Ocean's Eleven. The successful crime dramedy spawned two sequels: Ocean's Twelve (2004) and Ocean's Thirteen (2007).

Among other roles, Damon played a fictionalized version of Wilhelm Grimm in Terry Gilliam's fantasy adventure The Brothers Grimm and an energy analyst in Syriana. He joined Robert De Niro in The Good Shepherd as a career CIA officer, and played an undercover mobster working for the Massachusetts State Police in Martin Scorsese's The Departed, a remake of the Hong Kong police thriller Infernal Affairs. He had an uncredited cameo in Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth (released in 2007), a cameo in the 2008 Che Guevara biopic Che, and a supporting role in Kenneth Lonergan's 2009 film Margaret. Damon provided a voice for the English version of the film Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, which was released in the United States in August 2009. He next appeared in Steven Soderbergh's political dark comedy, The Informant! opposite Melanie Lynskey, which began filming in Central Illinois on May 3, 2008. He also made a guest appearance in the sixth season finale of Entourage as himself, where he tries to pressure Vincent Chase into donating to his charity OneXOne (a real life foundation which Damon is ambassador for), and gets increasingly irritated when he does not seem to comply.

Upcoming films

Damon's projects include several films that are expected to debut in 2009, including his portrayal of Mr. Aaron in the drama Margaret. He began filming Green Zone in January 2008. Damon will portray South Africa national rugby union team captain François Pienaar in the Clint Eastwood-directed Nelson Mandela film Invictus, a film based on the 2008 John Carlin book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation, and also featuring Morgan Freeman as Mandela. Damon and director Paul Greengrass will also return to make a fourth Jason Bourne film, planned as The Bourne Legacy. Steven Soderbergh has confirmed that Damon will play longtime Liberace love interest, Scott Thorsen, opposite Michael Douglas in an upcoming film centered on the pianist's life.

Producing career

Along with Affleck and producers Chris Moore and Sean Bailey, Damon founded the production company LivePlanet, through which the four created the documentary series Project Greenlight to find and fund worthwhile film projects from novice filmmakers. The company produced and founded the failed mystery-hybrid series Push, Nevada among other projects. Project Greenlight was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program in 2002, 2004, and 2005.

Box office performance

In motion pictures that feature him as a leading actor or supporting co-star, his films have grossed a total of US$1.94 to US$2.30 billion (based on counting his roles as strictly lead or including supporting roles) at the North American box office, placing him in the top thirty-five grossing actors of all time. In August 2007, financial magazine Forbes created a list of actors who generated the best box office performance related to their salaries; the list placed Damon as the most bankable star of the actors reviewed, revealing that Damon had averaged US$29 at the box office for every dollar he earned for his last three films.

Personal life

Damon has had relationships with several actresses throughout his career. Damon had a two-year relationship with actress Winona Ryder. He also dated Odessa Whitmire, who has worked as a personal assistant for Billy Bob Thornton and Affleck, from 2001 to 2003. Although the media often claimed Damon dated actress Eva Mendes, both have denied any relationship.

Damon met Argentinemarker-born Luciana Bozan Barroso in Miamimarker, where she was working as a bartender. They married in a private civil ceremony on December 9, 2005, at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau near New York City Hallmarker. Damon became stepfather to Bozan's young daughter, Alexia, from her previous marriage. The couple's first child together, daughter Isabella, was born in Miamimarker, Floridamarker on June 11, 2006. On August 20, 2008, Luciana gave birth to the couple's second child, Gia Zavala Damon.

Among Damon's interests include his support of the Boston Red Sox. After the team won the 2007 World Series, he narrated the commemorative DVD release of the event.


Matt Damon at the ONEXONE benefit in San Francisco, October 2008
Damon, along with frequent co-stars George Clooney and Brad Pitt, supports ONE, a campaign fighting AIDS and poverty in Third World countries. He has appeared in their print and television advertising. Damon is also an ambassador for OneXOne, a non-profit foundation committed to supporting, preserving and improving the lives of children at home in Canada, the United States, and around the world.

Damon is a board member of Tonic Mailstopper (formerly GreenDimes), a company that attempts to halt junk mail delivered to American homes each day. Appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show on April 20, 2007, Damon promoted the organization's efforts to prevent the trees used for junk mail letters and envelopes from being chopped down. Damon stated: "For an estimated dime a day they can stop 70 per cent of the junk mail that comes to your house. It's very simple, easy to do, great gift to give, I've actually signed up my entire family. It was a gift given to me this past holiday season and I was so impressed that I'm now on the board of the company."

Damon, along with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, and Jerry Weintraub, is one of the founders of Not On Our Watch, an organization that focuses global attention and resources to stop and prevent mass atrocities such as in Darfur. He was the founder of H2O Africa Foundation, the charitable arm of the Running the Sahara expedition, which merged with WaterPartners to create in July 2009.

Kimmel and Damon

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel has often stated near the end of his ABC television show Jimmy Kimmel Live "My apologies to Matt Damon, we ran out of time." The line is a gag lampooning instances where shows cannot feature their last guest due to time constraints. On September 12, 2006, after a segment highlighting the running gag and a lengthy introduction by Kimmel, Damon finally appeared on the show, only for Kimmel to apologetically cut his interview and head to credits, as Damon cursed him. It was later determined that the skit was entirely planned by Kimmel and Damon. Kimmel's girlfriend at the time, comedian Sarah Silverman, also used this line at the end of the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. Silverman also aired a clip of her singing a song entitled "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" on January 31, 2008 on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Damon appeared in the song with Silverman and at the end when she is apologizing to Jimmy, Damon interrupts her saying, "Jimmy, we're out of time. Sorry." Kimmel himself later responded by showing a music video in which he announced, through song, that he is "fucking Ben Affleck". The video aired on February 24, 2008 and featured Affleck along with celebrities such as Don Cheadle, Cameron Diaz, Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Robin Williams, and various others.

Political views

Damon appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews in December 2006 and discussed the ongoing war in Iraq. Responding to Chris Matthews, Damon stated:

On September 10, 2008 a video was released on YouTube by the Associated Press in which Damon criticized the Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. In the interview excerpt he expresses doubt on Palin's readiness to lead in case John McCain does not make it through his first term. Damon refers to it as a "...bad Disney movie... 'I'm just a hockey mom from Alaska here to take on the White House'. It's absurd ... I need to know if she really thinks dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago. Because she’s gonna have the nuclear codes". He also says "You do the actuarial tables. There's a 1 out of 3 chance that McCain doesn't survive his first term, and it'll be President Palin."

Earlier, Damon read the audiobook version of historian Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, published in 2003.

Awards and honors

  • Damon won multiple awards for Good Will Hunting, a film he co-wrote with Ben Affleck. He was nominated for the Academy Award "Best Actor in a Leading Role" and won "Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen".
  • On July 25, 2007, Damon became the 2,343rd person to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker. Damon reacted to the award, stating: "A few times in my life I've had these experiences that are just kind of too big to process and this looks like it's going to be one of those times."
  • Damon has been nominated for four Screen Actors Guild awards and seven MTV Movie Awards for various films. Additionally, he has three Emmy nominations for his work on the first three seasons of Project Greenlight.
  • Damon was named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive for 2007.
  • Damon won 'Best Ass-Kicker' and 'Guy of the Year' at the Spike Guys' Choice Awards of 2008.


Year Film Role Notes
1988 Mystic Pizza Steamer One line
1992 School Ties Charlie Dillon
1993 Geronimo: An American Legend 2nd Lt. Britton Davis
1996 Glory Daze Edgar Pudwhacker Cameo
Courage Under Fire Specialist Ilario
1997 Good Will Hunting Will Hunting Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay with Ben Affleck
Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Writers Guild of America Award with Ben Affleck

The Rainmaker Rudy Baylor
Chasing Amy Shawn Oran Cameo
1998 Rounders Mike McDermott
Saving Private Ryan Private James Francis Ryan Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast
1999 The Talented Mr. Ripley Tom Ripley Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor
Dogma Loki
2000 Finding Forrester Steven Sanderson Cameo
All the Pretty Horses John Grady Cole
The Legend of Bagger Vance Rannulph Junuh
Titan A.E. Cale Tucker Voice only
2001 The Majestic Luke Trimble Voice only
Ocean's Eleven Linus Caldwell
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Himself Cameo
2002 Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Matt, bachelor #2 Cameo
The Bourne Identity Jason Bourne
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Spirit Voice
Gerry Gerry Also co-writer
2003 Stuck on You Bob Tenor
2004 Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train Narrator Voice
Ocean's Twelve Linus Caldwell
The Bourne Supremacy Jason Bourne
Jersey Girl PR Exec #2 Cameo
Eurotrip Donny Cameo
2005 Syriana Bryan Woodman
The Brothers Grimm Will Grimm
2006 The Good Shepherd Edward Wilson
The Departed Colin Sullivan Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast
2007 Ocean's Thirteen Linus Caldwell
The Bourne Ultimatum Jason Bourne
Youth Without Youth Ted Jones, Life Magazine Reporter Cameo
Arthur Himself (Voice only)
2008 Che: Part Two Fr. Schwarz Cameo
2009 Ponyo Koichi Voice
The Informant! Mark Whitacre
Margaret Mr. Aaron completed
Invictus Francois Pienaar completed
2010 Green Zone Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller completed
The Adjustment Bureau David Norris filming
Hereafter filming


  1. Stated in interview on Inside the Actors Studio

Further reading

  • Altman, Sheryl and Berk, Sheryl. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck: On and Off Screen. HarperCollins Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0061071455.
  • Bego, Mark. Matt Damon: Chasing a Dream. Andrews Mcmeel Pub, 1998. ISBN 0836271319.
  • Diamond, Maxine and Hemmings, Harriet. Matt Damon a Biography. Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 1998. ISBN 0671026496.
  • Nickson, Chris. Matt Damon: An Unauthorized Biography. Renaissance Books, 1999. ISBN 1580630723.

External links

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