Matt Damon finally gets a chance to show off his range in the new Farrelly Brothers comedy Stuck on You, as one half of a pair of co-joined twins, the other being Greg Kinnear. In good spirits when we met in a New York hotel, Damon talks comedy, Terry Gilliam and being in a Farrelly Brothers movie.
Question: WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT THE FARRELLY BROTHERS ASKED TO PLAY THIS ROLE?
Damon: No, I was excited when they did it. You know, it was obviously really different from anything I’d ever had a chance to do, so no, no, I was excited. Once I read it and talked to them about it I got real excited.
Question: YOU GUYS HAVE THE SAME HAIRCUTS AS ‘DUMB AND DUMBER.
Damon: I didn’t even realize that. My hair was maybe a bit longer than it is now, and the first day I showed up, and the lady who was doing my hair, I went and sat in the chair and said, ‘all right, what do you think?’ And she just went, grabbed it, and put the bangs down and said, ‘I think that’s good.’ I went, yeah, that’s probably fine, and I went to the set and didn’t realize till much later that we kind of looked like the guys from ‘Dumb and Dumber.’
Question: HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHO WOULD PLAY WHICH CHARACTER?
Damon: Yeah, there was never really any discussion about that. I think that part of it was that the brother who is slightly older felt his clock ticking and really wanted to get out there, and that was one of the story points that drove us out to LA.
Question: BOBBY FARRELLY SAID HE CAST YOU GUYS BECAUSE HE THOUGHT YOU WOULD KILL EACH OTHER. DID YOU GET MAD?
Damon: The only times that we got testy was the days when we did the full prosthetic, when we’re in swim trunks, that’s a rubber suit that we’re basically wearing around our whole chest, and there’s the whole middle piece and all the way around our back It would take them about 12 hours for them to put it on, and we’d have to stand still for those 12 hours while they did it. And I’d never stood stock still for 12 hours, and it really is”12 hours. Honest to God. Because we’d get up at three in the morning to go do this, so we wouldn’t’ be able to shoot until three in the afternoon and then we’d shoot for four or five hours, and then it would take an hour or two to get it off, so, those were really long days.
Question: THERE ARE SOME SERIOUS THEMES IN IT, LIKE BEING THE OUTSIDER. HAVE YOU EVER FELT THAT WAY?
Damon: Well sure, I think that’s a pretty common human experience. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t felt that way before. But certainly this is taking it to an extreme, but also the movie then becomes about, all right, this is the hand you’re dealt, now what do you do? It’s about overcoming adversity. The one moment I balked at was at the beginning, when I first heard about this, was it going to cross a line into cruelty? But then meeting those guys and listening and talk about these characters, and the way they wanted to do it, it was pretty clear that the spirit and the tone of the movie would end up being what it is, which is a really, I guess they would say a feel good movie, but with a really positive message for younger people. Whatever hand you’re dealt, you can overcome all kinds of obstacles and thrive.
Question: WERE YOU GUYS FANS OF THEIR FILMS BEFORE?
Question: SO YOU KNEW WHAT YOU WERE GETTING INTO.
Damon: Yeah. If you didn’t like the movie, we have no excuse.
Question: DID YOU SPEAK TO THE REAL-LIFE CONJOINED TWINS?
Damon: I didn’t meet them, we didn’t meet them, but they spoke to Peter and Bobby a lot. And, granted, for this type of movie, this wasn’t ‘Twin Falls, Idaho,’ you know, it was a different take. As Greg [Kinnear] said, he was working up to the moment almost when we started shooting. I hadn’t worked for a year and a half and I didn’t do any research.
Question: IS THAT JUST THE WAY THAT YOU WORK?
Damon: No, I usually do quite a bit of research.
Question: DO YOU READ THE SCRIPTS BEFORE YOU SIGN ON?
Damon: No, I don’t go that far [laughter]. But as Greg said, this really was the kind of thing that we were going to figure out. A lot had to be, it was once we were in the harness, it was once we started moving around together, and you don’t want to start locking into things, especially in a performance like this when you’re responsible for half of it, but you know somebody is going to be attached to you with the other half. So you want to kind of leave yourself open to, you get to know the person that you’re playing with.
Question: YOU WERE SO FUNNY ON ‘WILL AND GRACE’. WILL YOU DO MORE OF THAT? YOUR ROLES HAVE BEEN SO ACCEPTED?
Damon: [British accent] Keep talking, don’t stop, and give me more love, more. Yeah, my goal would be to come in each year or so when I see you guys, to have you say, ‘You know, I didn’t think that you would do a movie like that.’ I hope the movies I do are different enough that that’s the reaction I get. I don’t want to do the same thing. Greg and I talked about this. If he did ‘Auto Focus’ for the rest of his life he’d go crazy. But if he did just this movie for the rest of his life”
Question: DID YOU GO FROM ‘THE BOURNE IDENTITY’ TO THIS ONE?
Damon: Let’s see. No, I hadn’t worked in a while. I did a play in London and then I came to this.
Question: AND GREENLIGHT?
Damon: Working on Greenlight, with Ben what’s-his-name on that one. And yeah, just waiting for something to do.
Question: WHAT ABOUT YOUR CAMEO IN ‘EURO TRIP’?
Damon: Oh, did you see it? How is it? Those guys, the directors, Dave [Mandel], Alec [Berg], and Jeff [Schaffer], I went to college with those guys. So I was over in Prague on ‘The Brothers Grimm’ and we were in pre-production and they called me up and said, ‘look, will you come do a day on our movie.’ It’s called ‘Euro Trip.’ I lip sync in that movie, I play like a Henry Rollins wannabe from the suburbs, with earrings and a shaved head. I don’t know, the scene seemed kind of funny to me.
Question: DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING COMING UP NEXT?
Damon: Sure, I’m happy to report to you all that I’ve just done a movie that Terry Gilliam directed. It’s finished. Yeah, it’s finished, yes. It was great, it was really great, and he was everything that I could have ever hoped he would be. You know, watching ‘Lost in La Mancha’ you see how passionate he is and what an incredible director he is, and it was just really nice to work with him. I have huge, huge hopes for that movie, I think it could really be special. It’s very funny, it’s got a lot of fairy tale imagery in it and stuff that the Brothers Grimm ended up writing about. Hard to classify, really. I’ll probably see a cut of it in about six months or something, but it’ll be interesting to see.
Question: A LOT OF CGI IN THAT?
Damon: Yeah, there will be.
Question: SPEAKING OF CGI, WAS THERE ANY IN THIS?
Damon: None. Actually, we got lucky on the hackeysack, it took us only four takes to get that routine [laughing].
Question: DID YOU EVEN TRY TO DO SOME OF IT?
Damon: We had a couple short order cooks come in, just to get the weight of the burgers and all that stuff, so that we could sell those kinds of flips over the shoulder and all that stuff.
Question: IS THERE ANYTHING STUCK TO YOU THAT WAS AN ASSET OR A CURSE?
Damon: My arrogance, probably, I would say.
Question: BEN AFFLECK?
Damon: You guys said that, I didn’t say that. Everybody picks up their pen and goes, yeah.
Question: WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST HELP?
Damon: Probably just discipline, just the drive and the discipline to do it. But also there’s something Greg does in this movie, he plays the actor, which I really think is great, he really plays Walt as impervious to any attack. Walt just refuses to acknowledge when things aren’t going his way, he’s the eternal optimist. I think that actors have to have that quality, among many others, but chiefly among them that one, because you deal with so much rejection. You get told you’ll never make it. You go on a thousand auditions and you don’t even get close. You have to just be impervious to that and kind of laugh off that kind of rejection.
Question: WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
Damon: I’m taking a break for the next twenty minutes, and then I’m getting on a plane to go to Germany to do ‘The Bourne Supremacy.’
Question: IS THAT GOING TO BE BETTER THAN THE FIRST ONE?
Damon: I don’t know. We’ve got Paul Greengrass directing, and he’s fantastic, he directed ‘Bloody Sunday,’ he’s just a terrific director. So you know, I don’t know. The script is there, and Paul really is confident about it. So I don’t know, hopefully it’ll be good. We start shooting, it’s ten to four now, that means it’s midnight there. We start shooting officially in 20 minutes is our first day of shooting.
Question: ARE YOU WORKING OUT FOR IT?
Damon: Yeah, I am. Back in shape for it, yeah. It’s the same kind of physical stuff.
Question: SO WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET BACK IN SHAPE?
Damon: Sometimes between now and the flight over there, I guess. Do a couple jumping backs.
Question: HOW WAS WORKING WITH CHER?
Damon: Cher had so much class, though, to come in and do it, and she said early on, she said, ‘Look, I can’t do this halfway. I gotta really go for it.’ And she absolutely, I don’t know anybody at that level, which is a level that few people ever attain, that would be willing to send themselves up, with so much enthusiasm. She was really cool.
Question: HOW’S PROJECT GREENLIGHT?
Damon: We’re having trouble now because HBO dropped us. We’re in negotiations to try to get it over to Bravo or A&E or somewhere else.
Question: IS THAT COMING TO DVD?
Damon: I would assume so, I wouldn’t put it past Miramax television to get that out there on DVD. We were really proud of you.
Question: YOU WEREN’T AT THE JUNKET.
Damon: I know, I was over in Prague.
Question: WILL THOSE DIRECTORS EVER WORK AGAIN?
Damon: Yeah, they will. And again, we’re still honing our whole process, we’re going to try and add to budget and reshoot time this year, if we can do it. Because we think ‘Battle of Shaker Heights’ would have been vastly improved if we could have had a little bit of, maybe three reshoot days to fix little problems in that. The goal is to get a good movie out of it, and we haven’t been able to do that yet, so.
Question: YOU NEED TO GET A FEMALE DIRECTOR NEXT TIME.
Damon: Believe me, we’re taking any applications.