6 Reasons That Pretty Much Everyone Loves Matt Damon

Elysium Science fiction releases 6 Reasons That Pretty Much Everyone Loves Matt Damon

My dad loves Matt Damon. This is particularly noteworthy to me because he is a man who expresses little to no enthusiasm for contemporary movies or television. He enjoys things like Law and Order reruns and televised sports and playing Bejeweled while listening to country music. He doesn’t even say outright that he likes, I mean loves, Matt Damon, but any time Matt Damon shows up in a trailer for something, he will say “Hmm, that looks pretty good.” I was recently at the movies with him and he saw the poster for Elysium and asked me what it was about. I don’t remember my dad ever asking me what a movie was about before in my life. Maybe The Informant.

It seems as though this is the predominant opinion toward Matt Damon by the general public. Few people will openly display their admiration for Damon the way they will for someone like Leo DiCaprio or Ryan Gosling or Jessica Chastain or Robert Downey Jr. And yet just about anyone you come across, when directly questioned on their feelings toward Matt Damon and his work, will agree: he is pretty awesome. His movies have capitalized on this unspoken popularity, especially his seminal role as Jason Bourne, the instantly relatable and surprisingly unstoppable force of a hero that cemented Matt Damon as one of the coolest guys in show business.

Here are 6 of the reasons people love the hell out of Matt Damon even if they don’t consciously realize it.

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1) He’s so goddamn good in everything he’s in

Behind the Candelabra 6 Reasons That Pretty Much Everyone Loves Matt Damon

Even among good actors there are different levels of appreciation for their work. For someone like Daniel Day-Lewis, it’s as if he’s not even a person but a shape-shifter who slips into the skin of an actual other dude for every movie he’s in. And he also just seems like a lovely and gracious chap. I can’t relate to someone so perfect. Then there’s someone like De Niro who does his thing on screen and then is just sort of a quiet guy otherwise, someone you can totally relate to (particularly us introverts) but don’t feel like you know at all, or can’t get a sense of, making it hard to appreciate performances at times. Or there’s someone like Anne Hathaway or Hugh Jackman, who are tremendously good but a lot of times the effort they put in is visible and the magic of a performance gets lost in the sight of every string holding them up.

With Matt Damon, he’s just casually real, and cool, and intense when he needs to be, and earnest, and true. The understatedness of his stardom is matched by the understatedness and subtlety of his work. He has a surprising range of skills that allow him to be Jason Bourne one minute and Mark Whitacre the next. Seeing Hugh Jackman go from Wolverine to Jean Valjean is surprising, and we begrudgingly admit that he’s crazy good in both. With Damon though, the reaction seems more like, “of course he can do these things.”

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2) He can play total super crazy badasses

Elysium1 6 Reasons That Pretty Much Everyone Loves Matt Damon

Just the image of that Elysium poster, with Damon strapped in, ready to take on a planet full of rich and presumably heavily armed douchebags, is stirring, generating the kind of rah-rah feeling only the “one man” genre can inspire. He’s established himself at this point as a perfectly convincing and capable badass in movies. It mostly began with The Bourne Identity, where he was able to draw us in to his world of conspiracy and assassinations, and the remaining trilogy work solidified this as part of his persona.

But it should be noted that his roles prior to Bourne had quite a lot of intensity to them as well. His breakthrough Good Will Hunting performance showed him as a scrappy Boston boy, intellectually as well as physically aggressive. Subsequent characters like Loki in Dogma showed a similar intensity, as a powerless and frustrated guy on the brink of violent outburst in any given moment. It’s this quality that makes his work in movies like Invictus and Green Zone pop. His exuding confidence leaves us little room to doubt what he’s capable of, and his actions onscreen fulfill these expectations. Elysium looks to further advance this dimension to Damon’s multi-faceted acting persona..

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3)He can play awkward neurotic down on their luck losers

The Informant 6 Reasons That Pretty Much Everyone Loves Matt Damon

It’s easy to imagine Matt Damon playing both parts of director Neill Blomkamp’s hero in his movie previous to Elysium, District 9—he has shown a propensity for pulling off bumbling verbosity just as well as he can deliver searing destruction on villains. But without his softer side, his ability to play not only non-super hero type characters but downright impotent fools, he would be just another Jason Statham/Vin Diesel sort of actor. Instead, we have a star who can express exasperation better than anyone else in movies, something he can employ as a hero or a villain, or a weird amalgam of both.

This is why I think my favorite Matt Damon performance comes in The Informant! Teaming with the always dependable Steven Soderbergh, who also worked with Damon on the Ocean’s series, Damon plays in-over-his-head whistle blower Mark Whitacre. It was a role he famously gained weight for, and while his physical appearance lends itself to a lot of the movie’s comedy, his delivery of dialogue is some of the most subtle and hilarious work he is sure to have done to this point in his career. The movie features a number of well-known stand-up comedy performers, and Damon’s earnestness and attempts to seem cool even as his web of lies begins to unravel, along with his bizarre voiceover narration, make the comedic aspects of the film come to life. But we’ve seen him act goofy in other places, like Dogma and Ocean’s Eleven, but also as recently as Behind the Candelabra, where the sincere campiness is part of the whole Liberace-inspired performance.

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4) He has a sense of humor about himself

Matt Damon 6 Reasons That Pretty Much Everyone Loves Matt Damon

Another testament to how funny Damon can be are the instances where he has played the character of Matt Damon on screen. Perhaps the best example of this can be seen on some of his devastatingly realistic appearances on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, but he’s also shown up in Entourage and House of Lies, parodying his trademark intensity and charitable efforts. Entourage in particular plays off the perception that he can switch from super cool nice guy who’s just chatting with you to terrifying monster who will threaten your life for crossing him.

It’s becoming more and more common for celebrities to do this in order to show they don’t take themselves too seriously and are able to laugh at themselves and the ridiculousness and artificiality of the caricatures we in the public are able to get to know of them. This Is the End is the most recent example of stars taking seeming criticisms or observations about strange aspects of their publicly perceived identities and playing them up for laughs, exaggerating them in a way that is meant to show the absurdity of reducing a person to what is known of them through magazines and Entertainment Tonight. It’s hard to argue against the opinion that Damon is one of the best at this, though, not only through the quality of the “Matt Damon as Matt Damon” performances, but the sheer quantity and willingness for him to do them.

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5) All his stuff with Kimmel

Matt Damon1 6 Reasons That Pretty Much Everyone Loves Matt Damon

Like many people, my familiarity with most late night talk shows is informed almost exclusively by the material that ends up going viral: certain Letterman rants, Conan’s hilarious reviews of video games or interviews with children, Fallon’s song parodies, and Jimmy Kimmel’s impressively produced and comedically brilliant taped sketches. Anyone who was remotely active on the internet five years ago will remember the “feud” between Kimmel and Damon, with Damon being shockingly convincing in expressing outrage about being bumped from Kimmel’s show. And then there was Sarah Silverman’s music video admission to then-boyfriend Kimmel, “I’m F**king Matt Damon” and Kimmel’s response to Damon, “I’m F**king Ben Affleck.” It was a historic moment for viral late night YouTube videos.

They’ve proceeded to team up together on digital sketches like a Bourne Ultimatum parody featuring Kimmel’s sidekick Guillermo, and on another viral sketch from the show, “The Handsome Men’s Club.” Their relationship perhaps reached its apex when Damon took over the entire Jimmy Kimmel show for one night. Somehow they’ve formed a wholly unexpected comedy duo, like Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake, or Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm. It’s hard not to love Damon after seeing this stuff.

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6) He seems wicked smaht

Good Will Hunting 6 Reasons That Pretty Much Everyone Loves Matt Damon

One of the things that his collaboration with Jimmy Kimmel is that Damon has the smarts to identify and frequently work with one of the funniest dudes in show business. And for the most part, he has made fantastic choices when it comes to movie and television appearances. His brief stint on 30 Rock was nothing short of brilliantly conceived and executed, and his string of well received films in the mid-2000s, from Syriana to The Departed to The Informant, with minor hiccups like Stuck on You mixed in, he’s proven to be impressively discerning with where he takes his talents. He’s also a matter of fact yet compelling voice on political social issues, particularly the issue of education. He doesn’t speak with the typical faux-authority style a lot of celebrities will adopt, but rather as a concerned citizen, like anyone else.

There’s a reason that for a long time Matt Damon was considered “the smart one” in his friendship with Ben Affleck. While Affleck has since demonstrated the intelligence necessary to ably direct excellent films, Damon continues to show that he has a real talent for screenplay writing in his collaboration with new BFF John Krasinski on Promised Land. Most of all, and I think what makes Damon such a beloved figure for the common man, is that he’s got the good sense to realize that simply being a movie star does not justify someone having airs about them, or the idea that they’re somehow of a higher class than anyone else; they just pretend to be other people on a screen. This apparent groundedness lends itself to playing everyman-style heroes that audiences love. At least my dad can identify with him.

Feel free to share your affections (or otherwise) for Matt Damon in the comments section below.

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  • Michael Loy

    Can’t stand Mr. Damon. He is a sellout to everything that is truly American.

    • me181818

      Manny G

      2 days ago

      I love Matt, he’s a terrific guy
      and great actor. But the thing I like the best is that all the most
      horrible people hate him. :-)

      Like this guy.

  • Frances Ash

    This article is so true! My mother and my niece both adore Matt Damon – as do I. I had to talk my mother down from seeing Elysium just two days ago and she was so disappointed. I told her it was sci-fi (she hates sci-fi) but she brightened up when I told her Monuments Men would be out at Christmas! Love Matt, he’s a sweetheart and wonderful family man.

  • Manny G

    I love Matt, he’s a terrific guy and great actor. But the thing I like the best is that all the most horrible people hate him. :-)

  • Karen

    Darren you have summed up Matt Damon perfectly! My family are big fans of him both as an actor and a person.

  • Miscanthus

    Great article! I agree wholeheartedly. He always makes it look so easy, but when you think about the diversity of his career it is kind of amazing. Playing Liberace’s boy toy and the Elysium dude and a WWII soldier all in one year!

    • Princess

      Matt, too bad we didn’t meet before . You were supposed to find me first man !! I was around you for all those years! Love the movie with the Fedora..

  • Blah-Blah

    I can sum up Matt Damon with one word: humility. It oozes from the pores of his skin like other actors ooze arrogance, over-confidence and/or pretentious douchebagness