So what the heck is next for Matt Damon? At this weekend’s The Bourne Ultimatum junket, the actor was very aware of the impending strike that looms over Hollywood*, and said that he was making his decisions based on that.
“I’m hoping to do the Green Zone movie [Imperial Life in the Emerald City] that Paul’s doing, but I don’t know,” said Damon. “I’m doing The Informant with Steven Soderbergh, which we’ve been trying to do for years, starting April 15th. We have a strike coming, and Steven knows I want to do Paul’s movie so he moved all the way up so he’d basically go April 15th to June 30th, and the strike starts the next day. If Paul can get me in before April 15th on the Green Zone movie, then I can do it.”
The Informant is a project Soderbergh has been working on since 2002, when Warner Bros got the rights to the non-fiction book The Informant: A True Story, which, according to Variety, is about "Mark Whitacre, a high-level mole at the self-declared ‘supermarket to the world’ Archer Daniels Midland. Whitacre wore an FBI wire for more than two years to uncover a major price-fixing scam with ADM’s Japanese competitors that gave the company millions of dollars in profits. ADM pled guilty in 1996 and paid a $100 million fine, but, unlike the happy ending of Soderbergh’s Erin Brockovich the whistle-blower in The Informant winds up doing more time than the corrupt leaders he helped nab.” Imperial Life, meanwhile, is the story of the initial disastrous months of the US occupation of Iraq; The Emerald City refers to The Green Zone, the US Baghdad base set aside from the city and encompassing one of Saddam’s old palaces. The Green Zone was a strange and surreal sea of America in demolished Iraq, and staffers rarely made it beyond the blast walls encircling the encampment.I’ll have Paul Greengrass’ thoughts on the film for you soon.
So where does that leave The Fighter, the Boston-based boxing brothers movie Darren Aronofsky is directing and which was supposed to re-team Damon with his Departed co-star Mark Wahlberg? “The full script isn’t in yet,” says Damon. “It’s another thing that’s out there.” Which to me sounds like he doesn’t think it’ll happen before the strike, or if it does, it’ll do so without him.
Long-term, Damon is looking forward to being directed by his hetero life mate turned apparently gifted director Ben Affleck, but also to helming a movie himself. “I really want to direct,” Damon said. “I’ve been taking these last ten years to carefully study the directors I’ve been working with, and I’ve worked with a lot of good ones at this point, so I feel like I’m ready to do it.”
* Whether or not there is a strike, Damon says he’s scheduling like it’s happening: “From what I hear it’s going to be a de facto strike. The studios are doing their whole slate in the first half of the year on the assumption there’s a strike, and it also gives them leverage against the unions because they can say, ‘We don’t need new movies anyway.’ They just take six months off.”