Matt Damon Biography
Matthew Paige Damon is an American actor, writer and philanthropist whose career was launched following the success of the film Good Will Hunting, from a screenplay he co-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 Fame. 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 Water.org. With his wife, Luciana Bozán Barroso, Damon has two daughters, Isabella and Gia, and stepdaughter Alexia from Barroso's prior marriage.
Matt Damon was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 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 Newton 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 University 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 House. 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.
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 40 pounds (18 kg) 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 in the 1998 World War II film Saving Private Ryan.
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, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum, 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 thriller, 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 doesn't seem to comply.
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.
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 Argentine-born Luciana Bozan Barroso in Miami, 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 Hall. ] Damon became stepfather to Bozan's young daughter, Alexia, from her previous marriage. The couple's first child together, daughter Isabella, was born in Miami, Florida 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.