Most everybody knows Matt Damon, and many identify him by roles including Jason Bourne, Private Ryan or the talented Tom Ripley. Even people unimpressed with pop culture generally admire this down-to-earth, hardworking Massachusetts boy as someone they wouldn’t mind hanging out with in a sports bar.
But since most of us can’t exactly visit Cheers with Damon, here are some interesting facts you can drop the next time he comes up in conversation.
1. Matt Damon wrote Good Will Hunting with Ben Affleck.
Cited as Damon’s breakthrough film, with Damon even winning “Breakthrough Artist” at the 1998 Critics Choice Awards, Good Will Hunting was written by Damon and his childhood friend, Ben Affleck, when they were struggling to land jobs as fledgling actors. In it, Damon plays an undiscovered math genius from South Boston. Damon, however, is certainly not a dumb actor playing a smart guy, as he attended Harvard University himself to study English, though he did not complete his degree.
2. He had a ‘feud’ with Jimmy Kimmel.
If you watch the late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live, then you have probably wondered what the deal is with his “feud” regarding Damon. Here’s how Jimmy Kimmel explained it, in a 2013 interview with NPR:
“We had a bad show.… The guests were bad, and I was feeling pretty bad about myself at the end of the program. And I decided to say, for the amusement of one of our producers who was standing next to me… ‘I want to apologize to Matt Damon. We ran out of time’.… And he got a kick out of it, the producer, so I just started doing it every night to amuse him.
“Matt Damon was just the first name that popped into my head. I was trying to think of an A-list star, and somebody we absolutely would not bump if he was on the show.… The legs on this bit are unbelievable to me. I mean, people laugh every time I say it.… Repeating the same joke every single night, you’d think eventually people would get tired of it, but they don’t.”
The fictional Kimmel vs. Damon feud escalated with various pranks and antics over the years, but came to a (joking) head in January 2013, when Damon “kidnapped” Kimmel and sought his revenge for being constantly bumped (1,205 times, to be exact) by hosting Kimmel’s entire talk show that night.
3. He and Ben Affleck are childhood friends.
Forget lasting marriages; in Hollywood, you’re lucky if you can find a true friend who’s been with you through thick and thin. Damon and Affleck can consider themselves very lucky on that count. Close friends since childhood, Damon and Affleck grew up just two blocks away from each other in Cambridge, Massachusetts and are, in fact, family. Well, tenth cousins once removed, but who’s counting?
4. Matt Damon is committed to charitable work.
A prolific humanitarian, Damon has been heavily involved in several charities, and even satirized his commitment to charities and nonprofits in an episode of Entourage. One of his charitable enterprises, Water.org, is a global nonprofit “working to bring water and sanitation to the world,” according to their website. Originally the founder of the H2O Africa Foundation, Damon and Gary White later merged their organizations to create Water.org.
5. He is worth his salary, and then some.
In Forbes’ first-ever “Ultimate Star Payback” list in 2007, Damon was ranked as the most bankable actor in Hollywood. According to the article, “for every dollar Damon got paid for his last three roles, his films returned $29 of gross income.” An actor who’s worth the outrageous paychecks? We can get on board with that.
6. Matt Damon is a great comedic actor.
No list of Damon should go without mentioning his brilliant guest appearances on the hit TV comedy 30 Rock as the boyfriend of Tina Fey’s character, Liz Lemon. During his time on the show, Damon played a pilot named Carol Burnett (ha!). Damon might not be widely considered as a comedic actor, but his small performance as Burnett the pilot should prove that assumption wrong.
This article was published in June 2013 and has been updated. Photo by Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock