I’ve selected two exceptional portions from Tom Junod‘s profile of Elysium, Behind The Candelabra and Monuments Men star Matt Damon in the current Esquire — the first being a Junod riff about Damon’s almost-regular-guyness and the second a great Beatles anecdote by way of Bono.
Portion #1: Matt Damon “is not a regular guy. He is to regular guys as he says Germans are to Americans — about 5 percent different. For comparison`s sake, let`s say George Clooney is about 15 percent different. Brad Pitt is about 12.5 percent different, and Leonardo DiCaprio has never been a regular guy, so he offers no basis for calculation. But Damon is so close to being a regular guy that he can pass as a regular guy onscreen and off. He can be the same guy onscreen and off, and so he offers audiences the rarest of combinations — the satisfaction of reliability and surprise.
“It was a surprise when he was able to both write and star in Good Will Hunting. It was a surprise when he was able to pull off the Bourne series. It was a surprise when he was so funny on Jimmy Kimmel and 30 Rock. It was a surprise when he wore a thong for Michael Douglas in Behind the Candelabra. But he can be continually surprising in his performances because he is so reliably unsurprising in his life — because he fulfills expectations instead of confounding them. Matt Damon is a movie star because he always delivers on being Matt Damon. He is a movie star not only because he makes us want to have a beer with him but also because he makes us think that, alone among movie stars, he might actually want to have a beer with us.”
Portion #2: “Here`s a story. Matt Damon told it. But it`s not about Matt Damon. It`s about Bono. But it`s not really about Bono, either; it`s about Paul McCartney. But Damon heard it from Bono. One day Bono flew into Liverpool. Paul was supposed to pick him up at the airport, and Bono was shocked when Paul picked him up at the airport alone, behind the wheel of his car. ‘Would you like to go on a little tour?’ Paul said. Sure, Bono said, because Bono, you see, is a fan of Paul`s, in the same way that Damon is a fan of Bono`s.
“Bono`s obsessed with the Beatles,” Damon tells Junod. “He`s, like, a student of the Beatles. He`s read every book on the Beatles. He`s seen every bit of film. There`s nothing he doesn`t know. So when Paul stops and says `That`s where it happened,` Bono`s like, `That`s where what happened?` because he thinks he knows everything. And Paul says, `That`s where the Beatles started. That`s where John gave me half his chocolate bar.` And now Bono`s like, `What chocolate bar? I`ve never heard of any chocolate bar.` And Paul says, `John had a chocolate bar, and he shared it with me. And he didn`t give me some of his chocolate bar. He didn`t give me a square of his chocolate bar. He didn`t give me a quarter of his chocolate bar. He gave me half of his chocolate bar. And that`s why the Beatles started right there.`
“Isn`t that fantastic? It`s the most important story about the Beatles, and it`s in none of the books! And Paul tells it to Bono. Because he knows how much Bono loves the Beatles.”