The 74th edition of the Cannes Film Festival will take place from July 6 to 17. While waiting for the first climb of the stairs, presentation of films and personalities who will make the event on the Croisette. Today: close-up in seven sequences on Matt Damon, an actor with an (almost) flawless career and a great regular in films out of competition at Cannes.
Age : 50 years
Nationality : American
Number of selections in Cannes : Only one in competition, in 2013, for My life with Liberace, by Steven Soderbergh, one of the rare TV movies (produced by HBO, with Michael Douglas in the lead role) to have competed for the Palme d’Or. Otherwise, Matt Damon is more of a regular at out-of-competition films, let him play the angel in Dogma (by Kevin Smith, in 1999, with his eternal accomplice Ben Affleck), the narrator for a committed documentary (Inside Job, 2010), or participated in one of the smartest heists in the history of cinema (Ocean’s Thirteen, 2007). In short, a luxury outsider on the Croisette.
Its 2021 vintage in Cannes
This year is no exception: we find him headlining out of competition in Stillwater, the new film by Tom McCarthy, the director of the excellent Spotlight (2015) on journalists from Boston Globe who had denounced sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. This time, however, we are very far from the black secrets of the American dioceses, since Matt Damon here interprets a father who, in an attempt to exonerate his daughter, makes the trip to the visiting room of the Baumettes prison, in… Marseille. No Interpretation Prize, therefore, for the one who will give the answer to a Franco-American cast, from Camille Cottin to Abigail Breslin.
Mickey Rourke. In the 1980s, still a high school student in Massachusetts, Matt Damon didn’t want to become an actor. He wanted to become Mickey Rourke, then at the height of his glory. The luck of the castings wanted that much later, in 1997, the young rising star and the fallen bad boy cross in the same film of Francis Ford Coppola, The Idealist: ” I was overjoyed to meet him, Matt Damon confided much later to the American magazine Esquire. We were filming in a bad part of Memphis […], and here I am on a street corner, face to face with my teenage idol, yelling at me: “Francis Ford Coppola wants you in this movie, it’s important. It’s the signal to all of Hollywood that you have a future. So don’t be like me: don’t screw it up! ” “
His style of play
Smooth on the surface, dense in depth. Capable of “disappearing” entirely in its role. Not to trust his almost too healthy physique of ideal son-in-law of America… Certainly, Matt Damon plays with it to slip easily “into the skin” of Jason Bourne, action hero of one of the most popular series of espionage of the last twenty years (four films, from 2002 to 2016), but he has also known how to become a key figure for the great cinema of authors from across the Atlantic, delivering performances with finesse, as well, and among others, at the Coen brothers (True Grit) that in front of the camera of Clint Eastwood (Invictus), Martin scorsese (Infiltrators), Christopher Nolan (Interstellar), Ridley scott (Alone on Mars), and, of course, Steven Soderbergh, with whom he shot … nine films. Where the sober, discreet and subtle play of an actor merges with the history of contemporary American cinema.
His greatest achievement
We are spoiled for choice, in an (almost) faultless career. We will therefore choose his first stroke of brilliance, the one that changed everything: in 1997, he played the main role in Will Hunting, by Gus Van Sant, alongside Robin Williams and Ben Affleck, his best friend, with whom he also co-wrote the screenplay for this phenomenon film, about a self-taught genius stuck in a poor Boston neighborhood. At barely 27, it was for this innovative script, and not for its performance, that he won an Oscar.
He is reproached
Artistically, not much. But in 2017, in the midst of the #MeToo wave, he found himself in the hot seat: he was not only criticized for his relationship with Harvey Weinstein, but also, and above all, for having, a few years earlier, tried to ‘use his influence to stifle a first prosecution against the predatory producer, which he has always denied, until today.
He once said
In praise of banality and discretion, in an interview with Guardian, in 2015 : “I think when people leave a room I’m in they’re like, ‘This guy isn’t a movie star.’ […] The less you are known, the better your roles are. “
Countless: in addition to the Oscar for best screenplay for Will hunting, shared with Ben Affleck in 1997, Matt Damon won a Golden Globe in 2016 for his performance in Alone on Mars, or the Stanley Kubrick prize for “excellence in cinema” at the Bafta (the English César), in 2017. We are still waiting for the Oscar for best actor.