“It’s better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.” – Matt Damon
Matt Damon has been known for his starring roles as Will Hunting, Jason Bourne, and as a con man in the Ocean’s Trilogy. He’s actively involved in charity work and has three daughters with his wife Luciana Barroso.
Here are a few things you might not know about America’s favorite math genius!
29. A Dash of This and a Pinch of That
Damon’s father is English and Scottish, while his mother is five-eighths Finnish and three-eighths Swedish, which makes Matt Damon a quarter English, a quarter Scottish, five sixteenths Finnish, and three sixteenths Swedish, which is apparently the recipe for one of the sexiest men alive.
28. Parental Leave
Matt Damon decided, at the age of 16, that he wanted to move to New York City to pursue his dream of being an actor. His parents were not on board with this plan and refused to finance the trip.
27. Dance Monkey Dance!
To make money, Damon used to breakdance in the middle of Harvard Square and for, some reason, it’s still very difficult to imagine Damon breakdancing because a cursory search of YouTube has turned up nothing. Internet, make this happen.
26. Is EVERY Harvard Dropout Famous?!
Damon put his acting dreams on hold and attended Harvard where he studied English but left 12 credits short of a degree. The only thing less useful than an English degree is 73% of an English degree.
Matt Damon’s brother, Kyle, is an accomplished sculptor and artist.
Damon left Harvard to take a role in Geronimo: An American Legend, expecting the movie to be a big success. Whoops.
23. The Green Zone
Damon’s first speaking role in a film was in Mystic Pizza. His one line was at a dinner table, where he said, “You want my green stuff?” Apparently, America did want his green stuff.
22. Good Guy Matt Damon
Damon co-founded the organization H2O Africa which supplies potable water to impoverished countries on the continent. He also founded Not On Our Watch, which fights to bring attention to human rights violations around the world.
21. Making it Rain
Seeing the weight loss, Francis Ford Coppola admired the lengths that Damon was willing to go for a role and cast him in The Rainmaker, Damon’s first leading role.
20. Fat Damon
Ironically, Tom Hanks didn’t want Matt Damon playing the title role in Saving Private Ryan because he thought Damon was too skinny.
19. You Are Getting Sleepy
Damon used to smoke, but quit with the help of a hypnotist.
18. Passing the Bar
To perfect his Southern accent for his role as a Memphis lawyer in The Rainmaker, Damon worked as a bartender in Tennessee and even hired a customer to be his “dialect coach.”
17. The Depahted
While Damon did what many considered to be a decent Southern accent, his Boston accent in The Departed, did not quite live up to snuff, with Bill Simmons telling GQ that The Departed was “a catastrophe of bad Boston accents.” This despite the fact that Damon was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
16. We are Family
Although everyone knows that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are best friends, it is less well known that the two Bostonians are actually distant cousins. Tenth cousins, once removed, to be exact.
15. Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
Damon and Affleck met at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Damon credits his drama teacher, Gerry Speca, as an important artistic influence although he complained that Affleck got the “biggest roles and longest speeches.”
14. Justice is Blind
Damon was offered the chance to play Daredevil when it was in production at Miramax in 1999. This version would have starred Damon, written by Kevin Smith, and directed by Robert Rodriguez. However, Marvel Comics wanted too large a budget for the filmmaker’s tastes, and the role went to Ben Affleck. The movie was poorly reviewed. Bigger roles and longer speeches apparently don’t always work out.
13. Going the Distance
Damon and Ben Affleck were extras in 1989’s Field of Dreams. They were amongst the thousands of people at Fenway Park when Kevin Costner kidnaps James Earl Jones and takes him to a baseball game.
12. Oral Test
When Damon and Affleck were shopping Good Will Hunting around Hollywood, they were concerned that studio execs were just paying them lip service but not actually reading the script. They added a scene where Sean and Will engage in a little homoerotic “lip service.” When the producer at Miramax met with the two fledgling writers, he said he loved the script, but that maybe they should drop the gay sex scene. Miramax got the movie.
11. You Get a Broken Heart! And You Get a Broken Heart!
Damon dated his Good Will Hunting co-star Minnie Driver for a year, but the relationship ended when Damon denied having a girlfriend on the Oprah Winfrey Show. What happened to the chivalry of sending a text?
10. How Do You Like Dem Apples?
Damon was romantically linked to Winona Ryder, and they were even engaged for a short time, but she reportedly broke up with him for Mark Wahlberg.
9. Matt Damon
Matt Damon was confused by Trek Parker and Matt Stone’s portrayal of him as a dimwit capable only of saying his own name in Team America: World Police. As it turns out, the reason was because the Matt Damon’s puppet didn’t come out right. Parker and Stone thought the puppet looked stupid, but since there wasn’t time to rebuild it, Matt Damon became stupid.
Matt Damon played in the 1998 World Series of Poker but was knocked out on the first day by poker legend Doyle Brunson when his kings ran into Brunson’s aces.
7. Sorry, Not Sorry
Every night, at the end of his show, Jimmy Kimmel says, “I want to apologize to Matt Damon, we ran out of time.” Kimmel says the joke began after a particularly awful night with some awful guests and he decided to make light of the situation and acted as if Damon got bumped for said guests. It became a nightly tradition after that because he thought it was hilarious. Damon, not so much.
6. Matt Damon Live!
Damon got his “revenge” on Kimmel by taking him hostage and taking over his show for a night, which he renamed to “Jimmy Kimmel Sucks.”
5. Fight Song
In the wake of their breakup, Kimmel’s former girlfriend Sarah Silverman demonstrated just how over Kimmel she was with a song called “I’m F***ing Matt Damon,” accompanied by a video starring Matt Damon. Kimmel responded with a song called “I’m F***ing Ben Affleck.”
4. Cruz Control
There was speculation that Damon dated his co-star Penelope Cruz after filming All the Pretty Horses. The two neither confirmed nor denied the rumors, but when questioned by Oprah Winfrey on her show, she said, “Matt’s a very special man, he’s funny and he’s one of the most generous people I’ve met in my life. He has no defects.” Jimmy Kimmel would disagree.
3. That Buys a Lot of Coffee
In 2013, Damon appeared in a 20 second ad for Nespresso, directed by Grant Heslov. The deal earned him $3 million. That’s $150,000 per second.
2. Can-Can-Can You Do the Can Can
After filming Elysium, director Sharlto Copley gave Damon a model of the spaceship from Elysium made out of beer cans. Damon claims that this is the weirdest thing he owns.
1. Take that, Jenny Craig.
The movie that launched Damon’s career was also the movie that almost killed him. He was so dedicated to his heroin addict character, in his breakout role in the movie Courage Under Fire, that he intentionally lost 40 pounds for the role.
He had to take medication for a year and a half to correct the stress he had put on his adrenal gland. Despite that, Damon considered it a great career move.