LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Matt Damon attends the ‘Oppenheimer’ photo call at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
You don’t have to be a Hollywood star to understand the disappointment Matt Damon experienced on the set of a movie. What he actually felt is something that we will all have experienced at some point in life. I’m talking about the apathy that comes from feeling dissatisfied with an obligation that doesn’t fulfill us. Like studying a subject that we don’t understand at school, or accepting a job that doesn’t complement us.
However, in the case of the Rescue Mission actor, things would be more complicated. Because Matt Damon fell into depression during the filming of one of his films when he discovered that nothing was going as he had imagined. “Without naming any particular movie…sometimes you find yourself in a movie that you know might not be what you expected, and you’re still making it,” he said on the Jake’s Takes podcast during Oppenheimer’s promotion.
“I remember I was in the middle of production and you still have months to go and you took your family somewhere else, you know, you made them uncomfortable, and I remember my wife waking me up because I fell into a depression for asking ‘what have I done?’”
“She just said, ‘We’re here now,’” Damon continued, referring to Argentina’s Luciana Barroso, whom he married in 2005. “I take pride, in large part because of her, in being a professional actor and what it means to be an actor. professional, going in and doing your 15 hour day giving it your absolute all, even when you know it’s going to be a failed effort. And if you can do that with the best possible attitude, then you are a professional, and she really helped me with that.”
‘What movie were you talking about?’ Many are wondering.
Matt Damon doesn’t specify, but you don’t have to be a scholar to come to a possible conclusion. If we take into account that he mentions his family (his daughters were born between 2006 and 2010), that he talks about having moved and extensive filming, then it is clear that this is a blockbuster. And the title that best fits the description and the bad memory of him could be The Great Wall (2016), the epic film directed by Yimou Zhang that shot in China and New Zealand with a budget of $150 million. In this story, Damon played a mercenary who joined the Chinese empire to fight against a monstrous threat. it was rumored to promote the white savior narrative. In his defense I must say that he did not, but the debate was controversial enough to darken his premiere even more. And the result was a crash that, according to The Hollywood Reporter, led to millions in losses.
In addition, Matt Damon left us obvious clues when he spoke about this disaster on the WTF podcast in 2021. “This is exactly how disasters happen,” he said about the filming. “It was not consistent. It doesn’t work as a movie.” “I came to believe that the definition of a professional actor […] thinking, ‘OK, I have four more months. It’s the dawn siege on Hamburger Hill. I’m definitely going to die here, but I will.’ That’s the most horrible thing you can feel creatively, I think. I hope I never have that feeling again”, he declared loud and clear.
Either because of economic necessity, to accumulate experience or because it is simply part of our vital learning. However, doing it knowing that the result will not be satisfactory, that you have to follow through to the end anyway, in a project where there are thousands of people involved and millions of dollars at stake, is something completely different. Interestingly, perhaps without realizing this, Matt Damon allows us to glimpse a reality that speaks of the personal martyrdom that can be hidden behind the glamorous façade of Hollywood premieres. And it is that, sometimes, things do not go as the actors would have wanted, finding themselves fully involved in productions that turn out to be different from what they had imagined when they signed the contract.
And in this case, we are talking about an involvement that requires long working hours, personal changes that affect the whole family, spending months developing a project that requires artistic delivery, interpretive credibility, and maximum commitment. And that they then have to sell by posing for the cameras on red carpets and promoting through hundreds of interviews all over the world with a smile.
Matt Damon fell into depression but at least he had the support of his wife as a key figure in getting the project done and moving forward.
However, other actors cannot say the same. For example, something similar happened to Brad Pitt during the filming of Interview with the Vampire, although his way out of the well was different. The actor felt “miserable” because of the night shoots and the darkness that surrounded him in London, in addition to the discomfort he felt with contact lenses, makeup, and the interpretation of a character who was the entire film sorrowful. After spending six months shooting in this way, he hit rock bottom and asked if he could break the contract. That is, throw in the towel and leave the project thrown away. But when producer David Geffen told him it would cost him $40 million, he immediately pulled himself together and finished the project.
In the end, Matt Damon reminds us that all that glitters in Hollywood is not gold and that there is another side behind the spotlight where the perfection conspicuous by its absence. One that speaks to us of personal martyrdom when dealing with projects that require maximum involvement, where an actor cannot finish his day, go home, and think about something else. But he is training, rehearsing, and having to force his creativity for 15 hours a day, in favor of a project that is being a disaster. Which he knows is not working. But they are already involved, with millionaire budgets at stake.
This article was written exclusively for in Spanish by Cine54.
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