Matt Damon

© Georges Biard
Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0 ]
BornMatthew Paige Damon
October 08, 1970 (age 47)
Profession Actor, Film Producer, Television Producer, Screenwriter
Spouse Luciana Barroso
Parents Kent Damon, Nancy Carlsson-Paige
Freebase ]

Matthew Paige "Matt" Damon (born October 8, 1970) is an American actor, voice actor, screenwriter, producer, and philanthropist. His career was launched with the success of his and Ben Affleck's Academy Award-winning screenplay, Good Will Hunting (1997), for which he also received a number of Best Actor nominations. Growing steadily in popularity since then, he is now among Forbes magazine's most bankable stars and one of the top-40 highest-grossing actors of all time. In addition to the many awards and nominations Damon has received, such as Academy, Golden Globe and other industry awards, for his work in the film industry—in 2007, Damon received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was named the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine.

Damon has become known for his versatility, starring in commercially and critically successful films such as the rogue secret agent Jason Bourne in the first three installments of the Bourne series, the youthful thief Linus Caldwell in the Ocean's Trilogy, the anti-hero in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), a fallen angel in Dogma (1999), a helpless private in Saving Private Ryan (1998), and a conjoined twin in Stuck on You (2003). He won further critical acclaim for his performances in dramas such as Syriana (2005) and The Good Shepherd (2006), as well as for his turn as a villain in the crime drama The Departed (2006). Among his critically and commercially unsuccessful films are the romance western All the Pretty Horses and the sports drama The Legend of Bagger Vance, both made in 2000, the adventure fantasy film The Brothers Grimm (2005) and the war thriller Green Zone (2010).

Damon has also performed voice-over work and established several production companies. Damon has been actively involved in charitable work, including the ONE Campaign, H2O Africa Foundation, Feeding America, and Water.org. With his wife, Luciana Bozán Barroso, Damon has three daughters and a stepdaughter from Barroso's prior marriage.

Early life

Damon was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the second son of Kent Telfer Damon (born 1942), a stockbroker, and Nancy Carlsson-Paige (born 1944), an early childhood education professor at Lesley University. His father is of Scottish and English descent and his mother is of Finnish and Swedish ancestry (his mother's family surname had been changed from the Finnish "Pajari" to "Paige"). Damon and his family moved to Newton for two years. After his parents divorced, Damon and his brother returned with their mother to Cambridge, where they lived in a six-family communal house. His brother Kyle is now an accomplished sculptor and artist.

As a lonely adolescent, Damon has said that he didn't feel that he belonged. Due to his mother's "by the book" approach to child-rearing, he had a hard time defining a self identity, and as a result gravitated to role-playing. He attended Cambridge Alternative School (now Graham and Parks) and then Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, where he was a good student, but had a "terrifying" first two years due to his short stature. Damon performed as an actor in several high school theater productions. He credited his drama teacher, Gerry Speca, as an important artistic influence, even though Ben Affleck, his good friend and schoolmate, got the "biggest roles and longest speeches". Damon is Affleck's tenth cousin, once removed, through a common New England ancestor.

Damon also attended Harvard University where he was a member of the class of 1992 but left before receiving his degree in order to take a lead role in the film School Ties. While at Harvard he wrote an early treatment of the screenplay for Good Will Hunting as an exercise for an English class. Damon was a member of the Delphic Club, one of the University's select Final Clubs. In 2013 he was awarded the Harvard Arts Medal. Damon received an Academy Award for the screenplay of Good Will Hunting in 1998 which was handed to him by fellow Harvard alumnus Jack Lemmon who coincidentally had also been a member of Harvard's Delphic Club.

Acting career

Damon started attending Harvard University in 1988, where he appeared in student theater plays, such as Burn This in Winthrop House and A... My Name is Alice. Damon made his acting debut in 1988 at the age of 18, with a single line of dialogue in the romantic comedy Mystic Pizza. As a student at Harvard University, he acted in small roles such as in the TNT original film Rising Son and the ensemble prep-school drama School Ties. He left the university in 1992, a semester - 12 credits - shy of completion of his Bachelor of Arts in English to feature in Geronimo: An American Legend in Los Angeles, mistakenly expecting the movie to become a big success. Damon next appeared as an opiate-addicted soldier in 1996's Courage Under Fire, for which he lost 40 pounds (18 kg) in 100 days on a self-prescribed diet and fitness regimen. He took medication for a year and a half afterwards to correct the stress inflicted on his adrenal gland and was told he was lucky his heart did not shrink.Courage Under Fire gained him critical notice, when The Washington Post labeled his performance "impressive".

Breakthrough

During the early 1990s, Damon and Affleck wrote Good Will Hunting (1997), a screenplay about a young math genius, an extension of a screenplay he wrote for an assignment at Harvard, having integrated advice from director Rob Reiner, screenwriter William Goldman, and writer/director Kevin Smith. It received nine Academy Awards nominations, earning Damon and Affleck Oscars and Golden Globes for Best Screenplay. Damon was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for the same film, which also netted an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for co-star Robin Williams. He and Affleck were each paid salaries of $600,000, while the film grossed over $225 million at the worldwide box office. The two later parodied their roles from the film in Kevin Smith's 2001 movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

Also in 1997, Damon was the lead in the critically acclaimed drama The Rainmaker, where he was recognized by the Los Angeles Times as "a talented young actor on the brink of stardom." After meeting Damon on the set of Good Will Hunting, director Steven Spielberg cast Damon as the titular character in the 1998 World War II film Saving Private Ryan. He portrayed Patricia Highsmith's anti-hero Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), in which "Damon outstandingly conveys his character's slide from innocent enthusiasm into cold calculation", according to Variety magazine.

Hollywood star

From 2001 to 2007, Damon gained wider international recognition as part of two major film franchises. He co-starred as thief Linus Caldwell in Steven Soderbergh's 2001 film Ocean's Eleven, a remake of the Rat Pack's 1960 film Ocean's 11; the successful crime dramedy spawned two sequels, Ocean's Twelve (2004) and Ocean's Thirteen (2007). He played amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne in the hit action thrillers The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), for which Entertainment Weekly named Damon among "the decade's best mixer of brawn and brains."

Personal life

Damon dated his Good Will Hunting co-star Minnie Driver. He later had a two-year relationship with actress Winona Ryder. From 2001 to 2003, he dated Odessa Whitmire, a former personal assistant of Billy Bob Thornton and Ben Affleck.

Damon met Argentine bartender Luciana Bozán Barroso (born 1976) in April 2003 while filming Stuck on You in Miami. They became engaged in September 2005 and married in a private civil ceremony on December 9, 2005, at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau. In 2013, they renewed their wedding vows in front of family and friends in St. Lucia. Damon is stepfather to Bozán Barroso's daughter, Alexia, from her previous marriage. The couple also have three daughters together: Isabella (born June 2006), Gia Zavala (born August 2008) and Stella Zavala (born October 2010). By 2012, they lived in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, having previously lived in Miami and New York.

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