To celebrate Matt Damon’s 46th birthday, here are five things you probably didn’t know about one of Hollywood’s modern greats.
From Saving Private Ryan to The Departed, the Bourne series to the Ocean’s Trilogy, Matt Damon is a mainstay on every list of essential man movies.
1. We all know Damon and Ben Affleck are best mates, but they’re also family . . . 10th cousins once removed, to be exact. The lads from Boston grew up two blocks away from each other, were schoolmates, auditioned together for the Mickey Mouse Club even shared a pretty empty bank account as young aspiring actors before they struck gold by co-writing Good Will Hunting.
2. Damon’s parents didn’t approve of his acting career, so he funded his dream by break dancing for spare change in Harvard Square as a teenager. The English student later dropped out of Harvard just short of graduation to chase his Hollywood ambitions.
3. Damon lost 20 kilos to play a heroin-addicted Gulf War veteran in Courage Under Fire in 1996 by eating nothing but chicken, egg white, broccoli and potato and running a half-marathon every day. The weight loss was so extreme it took him months under medical supervision to recover.
4. The world’s highest grossing film would’ve looked a lot different with Matt Damon in the lead role, but he knocked back the part of Jake Sully in Avatar in 2009 — the job that made unknown Australian Sam Worthington an overnight A-lister. Damon’s also rejected Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) in The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger’s character in Brokeback Mountain, and hand-balled the role of comic-book superhero Daredevil to best bud Affleck.
5. Damon has cost the US government almost one trillion fictional dollars on the silver screen. From getting lost in space (The Martian, Interstellar, Elysium) to being stranded at war (Saving Private Ryan, Courage Under Fire, Green Zone), Australian researcher Kynan Eng last year estimated the States have spent $900,100,500,000 — a tick over $900 billion — on ‘Oops, we left Matt Damon behind!’ rescue missions.