How Matt Damon Lost That Role To Joaquin Phoenix


At last night’s TimesTalk, Matt Damon and Gus Van Sant spoke about the first time they culturally collided.

Matt was trying out for the role of the dim-witted student Jimmy in Van Sant’s 1995 black comedy To Die For.

Van Sant said that at the audition, he gave Damon some vague direction and Damon managed to figure out exactly what he meant and do it with awesome precision.

But Matt didn’t get the job because he was too all-American looking and they were trying to find someone more offbeat.

“Joaquin was perfect for the part,” decided Van Sant.

But the two went on to collaborate on Good Will Hunting, Gerry, and their imminent Promised Land, a fracking drama co-written by and co-starring John Krasinski.

Krasinski joined the panel discussion to say that with the film, he wanted to start a conversation about fracking and he doesn’t care which side of the fence you’re on (though reports say the film is more anti than pro).

Damon chimed in that it’s a way smaller budget film than a Bourne, and with less marketing money to promote it, he’s doing Q&As and even schmoozing sessions to pump up extra interest.

He joked that he even calls distributors and says, “Come on, you don’t want Lincoln!

“Everybody’s got that!

“Spielberg, shmielberg!”

The guy has a wickedly fun sense of humor.

In fact, he would have been great in To Die For!