Mr. Damon, 40, says he was unfamiliar with the 1968 Charles Portis novel that inspired the movie prior to signing on for his role in the Coens' film. "It's a great American classic and I don't know how I missed it up to now," he said. "It's beautifully written and I've been recommending it to everyone. I literally gave it to everyone for Christmas this year."Just when we thought we couldn't love Matt Damon more comes this fantastic Q&A with him in the Wall Street Journal. While we think he absolutely nailed the role of LeBeouf, we're especially thrilled that this film introduced him to True Grit and Charles Portis.
Just a reminder for those of you who prefer to read your books in the 21st century way--True Grit will be released as an ebook on 1/21.
The Wall Street Journal
January 11, 2011
by Michelle Kung
With $110 million and counting at the box office, the Coen brothers' remake of "True Grit" has become one of the most successful Westerns in Hollywood history, thanks in no small part to the effort of stars Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld and Matt Damon, who plays the comical but steadfast Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf.
Mr. Damon, 40, says he was unfamiliar with the 1968 Charles Portis novel that inspired the movie prior to signing on for his role in the Coens' film. "It's a great American classic and I don't know how I missed it up to now," he said. "It's beautifully written and I've been recommending it to everyone. I literally gave it to everyone for Christmas this year."
Recently you've been working with directors you've made films with before, like Clint Eastwood and Steven Soderbergh. What was it like being directed by the Coens for the first time?
The Coens weren't totally unfamiliar to me because I did a movie ["The Good Old Boys"] in 1994 with Frances [McDormand, who is married to Joel Coen], and Joel was around on set. Also, because I've had so many friends work with them, I had already heard a lot about their process. There wasn't a sussing-out period; I felt very comfortable right away. Part of that though, is that they try very hard to make everyone feel comfortable on-set. I'm hoping I get to keep working with them. We did [an interview with] Charlie Rose about a month ago and as we were leaving, I asked them what they were working on. They said they didn't know, so I said, "Untitled Matt Damon Project"?
Maybe you're good luck for them, seeing as the film's gross has passed the $100 million mark.
And don't think George [Clooney] and Brad [Pitt] won't be hearing about that.
Why do you think this particular Coen brothers film has connected with audiences?
I honestly don't know why this one caught on—maybe because it was a familiar property. All of their films are just so beautifully made. In general, it's less about genre; audiences don't suddenly say, "I want to go see a Western now." I think there's just something about the story that people connect to and it's a great book. A lot of it has to do with Charles Portis. He's got a pretty militant following. People who know his work really love his work, so I think he definitely deserves a lot of credit. The book worked as a film in 1969; it's working again.
How did you and the Coens develop the character of LaBoeuf?
There were quite a few things we talked about. On the technical side, my character gets a tongue injury, which we figured out how to play pretty quickly. But there were more discussions about what we wanted this guy to look like and how we wanted to get this character, who's so well-drawn in the book, across to audiences. We found the answer in Tommy Lee Jones, who directed the movie I did with Fran in 1994. We all spent the summer with Tommy Lee in West Texas, where he's from, and he just happens to be a really interesting guy to talk to—a prizefighter conversationalist. So the Coens and I started talking about Tommy Lee and other people that are fun to listen to, like Bill Clinton, and thought about what it would be like if a person had that kind of showy presentation—but was devoid of substance. That's how we approached LaBoeuf.
Your next film is "The Adjustment Bureau", a sci-fi thriller that you shot in New York and was directed by George Nolfi, who's perhaps better known as a screenwriter.
I worked with George on both "Ocean's Twelve" and "The Bourne Ultimatum." Particularly on the last "Bourne" movie, there was so much pressure on us because we were on the set of this giant movie and we had no script. It doesn't get more pressure-packed than that in the movie business. You're under significant pressure as the director of a film, but anything would pale to the pressure he was under on "Ultimatum."
Given the various cities you and your family have lived in, where is home these days?
We're based in New York. I try to get everything I can in New York. There's a pretty good tax deal there right now, so you can make the argument with a straight face to any production that they should shoot their interiors in New York. So I try to do that as much as possible.