Good Will Hunting
One of Hollywood's hottest (and highest paid) young actors, Matt Damon gathered international fame and recognition for his spectacular work in 1997’s Good Will Hunting. Co-written with his best friend Ben Affleck, the drama garnered him countless awards like an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Broadcast Film Critics Association award, a Golden Satellite award, a Berlin Film Festival award, a Humanitas Prize award and a National Board of Review award. Moreover, his bravura performance won many awards like a Chicago Film Critics award, a Los Vegas Film Critics Society award, a Broadcast Film Critics Association award and a Blockbuster Entertainment award. Damon was also nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Actor.
Damon cemented his position as a movie star with his notable roles in such films as Steven Spielberg’s WW II Saving Private Ryan (1999), Rounders (1998, with Edward Norton), the drama The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999, alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law), the controversial Dogma (1999, costarring Ben Affleck), Steven Soderbergh's blockbuster smash Oceans 11 (2001, opposite George Clooney, Brat Pitt and Julia Roberts) and its continuation Ocean 12 (2004), the successful The Bourne Identity (2002, alongside Franka Potente) and its sequel The Bourne Supremacy (2004), and Stuck On You (2003, starring with Greg Kinnear). In 2003, Damon took home a Western Heritage award for his bright voice work for the animation film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002).
Fans can also catch him in the more recent and upcoming The Brothers Grimm (2005), the geopolitical thriller Syriana (2005), Martin Scorcese's The Departed (2006), the mystery film The Good Shepherd (2006), the drama Margaret (2006) and the blockbuster sequel The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).
One of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” (1998), Damon has been linked to several women in his romantic life. He was involved with emergency-room doctor Skylar Statenstein, then model Kara Sands, before dating his Rainmaker co-star, Claire Danes. He next romanced actress Minnie Driver, whom he met on the set of Good Will Hunting, and a year later, began dating actress Winona Ryder. They broke up in 2000, after a two year relationship. After the separation, Damon was linked with Ben Affleck's former assistant Odessa Whitmire (together from late 2001 until October 2003). He also once had a relationship with his All the Pretty Horses co-star, sexy Penelope Cruz. One of E!'s "25 Most Eligible Bachelors" (2002) is recently rumored to have become engaged to his new girlfriend, waitress Luciana Barroso, in September 2005. The couple met while in a Miami nightclub three years ago.
Childhood and Family:
Born Matthew Paige Damon, on October 8, 1970, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Matt Damon is the second son to retired investment banker Kent Damon, and Nancy Carlsson-Paige (a professor of education). His parents divorced when he was three, leaving the little boy and his older brother, Kyle, to be raised by their single mom. With his brother and mother, Matt spent part of his childhood in a commune-like house in Boston. At age 10, he met and befriended Ben Affleck, a boy two years his junior who lived two blocks away.
Matt’s true passion for acting was noticeable at an early age. While a student at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, Matt actively participated in numerous theater productions and helped the school win several state drama festivals. A true heartbreaker, Matt was relatively popular and liked by many of his classmates (especially girls) due to his charming personality and handsome looks.
As a child, he was shy and quiet in front of teachers. As told by one of Matt's friend, Casey Affleck, "Matt always had girlfriends."
By the time he was 16, Matt headed for New York City to give acting a try. Soon after landing his first film role, he was back to school and attended one of the most prestigious universities in the whole world, Harvard University, where he majored in English. Three years later, he dropped out of college to join the mass of young aspiring actors in L.A.
The Bourne Identity
Matt Damon began acting on stage when he was a high school student. Along with childhood buddy Ben Affleck, he became involved in several productions and made his debut as an extra in local films, as well as appeared on a commercial. With this sort of exposure in his pocket, 16-year-old Damon then made his way to New York in hopes of reading more roles for films. Two years later, he broke into the Hollywood scene with a one-scene part in the Julia Roberts vehicle Mystic Pizza (1988), and was an extra in The Good Mother (1988). However, his film career met with a failure that forced him to vanish from the screen for two years. In 1990, Damon tried his opportunity on the small screen and made his television film debut as Charlie Robinson in Rising Son. Unfortunately, it didn’t help launch his career and Damon again disappeared for a couple of years.
Damon returned in 1992 to star in Robert Mandel’s School Ties, opposite Brendan Fraser. Unluckily, the drama was a relative disappointment. He continued with a supporting role in the 1993’s Geronimo: An American Legend, starring Jason Patric and Gene Hackman. Damon’s role in the Western film opened up his chance to team with Tommy Lee Jones for his adventure TV movie The Good Old Boys (1995). Showcasing an undeniable acting talent as drug-addicted soldier Specialist Ilario in Courage Under Fire (1996, starring Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan), Damon began to attract public attention. That was followed by a small role in the comedy Glory Daze (1996) and an unaccredited part in Kevin Smith‘s Chasing Amy (1997), both of which Ben Affleck was cast in the lead. Damon was launched into the Hollywood limelight when Francis Ford Coppola cast him in the starring role of Rudy Baylor in John Grisham's The Rainmaker (1997). The thriller also starred Danny DeVito and Claire Danes.
Damon’s biggest breakthrough arrived that same year with 1997’s Good Will Hunting, a script he co-wrote with Ben Affleck. In the drama, helmed by Gus Van Sant, he portrayed the title character of a young math genius who attempts to make his way into the world. The film was a surprise hit of 1997 and became the highest grossing film in Miramax history. Damon himself netted a number of awards, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a Broadcast Film Critics Association and a Golden Satellite for Best Screenplay (shared with Affleck), a Berlin Film Festival for Outstanding Single Achievement, a Humanitas Prize for Feature Film Category (shared with Affleck) and a National Board of Review for Special Achievement in Filmmaking (also shared with Affleck). Additionally, his brilliant acting handed him such awards as a Chicago Film Critics and a Los Vegas Film Critics Society for Most Promising Actor, a Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Breakthrough Performance and a Blockbuster Entertainment award for Favorite Actor, as well as earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Damon also picked up a 1998 Sho West for Male Star of Tomorrow. The huge victory subsequently skyrocketed Damon’s film career.
Now a “Hollywood’s Golden Boy,” Damon found out it was easy to choose whatever roles he liked. Several major films and the opportunity to work with Hollywood renowned directors soon followed. The first chance came from Steven Spielberg who cast Damon as the titular role of Private James Francis Ryan in his WW II drama Saving Private Ryan (1998, starring Tom Hank). He next starred as reformed gambler Mike McDermott, opposite Edward Norton, in John Dahl's Rounders (1998). At the end of decade, Damon added extra credits with leads in two more highly anticipated movies, Kevin Smith's controversial Dogma (1999, costarring Ben Affleck) and Anthony Minghella's drama The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999, along side Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law).
Entering the new millennium, Damon landed voice work in the animated Titan: After Earth (2000), in which he provided the voice for Cale Tucker. He next delivered remarkable performances in a couple of unsuccessful, low-key dramas, The Legend of Beggar Vance (2000, costarring Will Smith and Charlize Theron) and All the Pretty Horses (2000, directed and written by Billy Bob Thornton) before portraying Steven Sanderson in Finding Forrester (2000). In the following years, he joined a star-studded cast in Steven Soderbergh's blockbuster remake of the Rat Pack classic Oceans 11 (2001, including Julia Roberts, George Clooney and Brat Pitt), lent his voice for Luke Trimble in The Majestic (2001), co-wrote and costarred with Casey Affleck in the Gus Van Sant’s Sundance-screened Gerry (2002), was featured in the comedy-romance The Third Wheel (2002, starring Luke Wilson and Denise Richards) and voiced the title role for the animated Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002), where he picked up a Western Heritage award in 2003.
Also in 2002, Damon scored a hit with the highly-anticipated spy-thriller The Bourne Identity, for director Dough Liman. The film, which cast him as Jason Bourne, opposite Franka Potente, was a giant triumph at the box office and DVD shelves. His follow-up, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), featured the actor as a game show contestant. In 2003, Damon had another success on his hands with the comedy Stuck On You, where he costarred with Greg Kinnear. Not only was it a hit, the film also received positive feedback from several film critics.
After a small role in the adventure EuroTrip (2004) and a cameo in Jersey Girl (2004), Damon rejoined Potente for the sequel The Bourne Supremacy (2004). Like its predecessor, the action-packed thriller was also a hit. It even debuted as number one on the blockbuster lists. The same year, he reprised his role of Linus Caldwell in the heist installment Ocean's Twelve (2004), before playing the supporting role of Wilhelm Grimm in the 2005 horror The Brothers Grimm. Damon will soon star with George Clooney and Amanda Peet in the geopolitical thriller Syriana (2005), a film based on the real-life memoirs of CIA agent Robert Baer. In 2006 and 2007, the 35-year-old actor will also add four wide screen projects to his impressive resume. He is first scheduled to work with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson in director Martin Scorcese's The Departed (2006) and star opposite Robert De Niro and Angelina Jolie in De Niro’s The Good Shepherd (2006). Next up for Damon are the pre-production film Margaret (2006) and the third sequel The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).