Life during the pandemic provided a bit of a reset for Matt Damon.
The co-writer and star of “The Last Duel” is on the new cover of GQ, and in the issue he talks about spending quarantine in Australia, working with Ben Affleck again, and more.
“There was like a quiet,” Damon says of the time off afforded to him by the pandemic. “There weren’t scripts being sent, or work to do, or people who needed answers for anything. It was just: Take the kids to school and then go train, or go for a walk. It was very simple. That part of it was eye-opening, going forward, in terms of how I’d like to spend my days.”
Damon was in Australia, thanks to a cameo appearance in the upcoming “Thor: Love and Thunder”, and despite only having two days of filming, the government allowed him to stay there for five months.
“There were government officials who called me and explained to me in no uncertain terms: The only reason you’re getting in is because this production is creating jobs,” he recalls. “Now, could the production live without me? Yeah. But you start pulling jokes away from something that’s funny and eventually it’s not, you know what I mean?”
The actor adds, “We were really lucky. I mean, we’ve been about as lucky as you can be throughout this pandemic.”
With “The Last Duel”, Ridley Scott’s new historical drama about rape and trial by combat in 14th-century France, Damon teamed up with Affleck for the first time since “Good Will Hunting” to co-write the screenplay, along with fellow writer Nicole Holofcener.
Damon was first urged to read Eric Jager’s book The Last Duel, the book upon which the film is based, in 2011. He demurred. Hearing that Martin Scorsese already had the rights, he felt it would be a waste of his time: “I said, ‘Well, if Marty has it, he’s going to do it with Leo.’” Seven years later, the rights now available, Damon relented.
“He was recently sober,” Damon says of his early conversations with Affleck about the project. “And when he’s on his game, he really sees the matrix. At seven o’clock the next morning, he called me—he had gone home and read it—and said, ‘We should write this.’”
Damon also addresses talks about his general aversion to social media, telling the magazine, “I just never saw the point. And I feel better and better about that decision as time goes on. I understand wanting to be connected to everybody on Facebook, but my life is so full and I’m connected, really, to everybody I need to be connected to. And then Twitter, I just reflexively didn’t believe that my first knee-jerk response to something was necessarily something that should go all over the world.”
He reveals, though, that he does have “a very private Instagram account,” which he mostly uses to see photos of friend’s kids growing up all over the world.
“I have 76 followers and I’ve done 40 posts since 2013,” Damon says, before sharing a photo of his 15-year-old daughter Isabella on her birthday, raising her middle fingers to the camera.
“That’s what she’s been doing every time we take a picture of her nowadays.”
Read “The Evolution of Matt Damon” by Chris Heath in GQ’s October issue and on GQ.com