Silver Screen Spotlight: Matt Damon

Aside from being a well-verse actor, producer, and screenwriter, Matt Damon has taken on a great number of unique and memorable faces in both cinema and television. A lost paratrooper in Saving Private Ryan. An undercover crook informing on the Irish Mob in The Departed. A spy seeking his true identity in The Bourne Identity. A laborer from South Boston who harbors a brighter future in Good Will Hunting. A saddened guest in a deadly feud with a flamboyant late-night TV host. From secret agents to gambling con men, aspiring geniuses to ambitious astronauts, and countless other roles, Damon has solidified his place in Hollywood as one of the most bankable stars around. Earning his start with one brilliant screenplay, and garnishing his career with a number of memorable roles, Damon continues to bring his suave charisma and dashing charm to the big screen. Now, as he makes his coveted return to the acclaimed Bourne franchise as super spy Jason Bourne this month, it's time we took a look at some of my favorite roles from the ever-enterprising actor.


While I might have gotten on the Matt Damon train somewhat late in the game, one of his most notable first roles in 1997's Academy Award-winning drama Good Will Hunting evading me for many years until just recently, his more recent roles have without a doubt made him one of Hollywood's most enjoyable actors to watch. One of the first roles I saw him in, to no surprise, was the critically-acclaimed shoot-em-up The Bourne Identity. Probably one of Damon's best roles, he successfully brought Robert Ludlum's amnesic assassin to the big screen, ushering in one of the most action-packed franchises in Hollywood. Following up a worthy first film with a budding partnership with director Paul Greengrass, who effortlessly perfected the cinematic spy and plans to bring him back to the action scene this month, Damon's crafty fighting skills and cryptic yet bad-ass performance solidified him as one of the silver screen's coolest spies.

Following his rise to Hollywood stardom in such roles as the Ocean's trilogy and gritty roles in films like Martin Scorsese's The Departed, offering up a unique intensity to nearly every role he brought to the big screen, the next major role I saw from Damon was the enjoyable western remake True Grit. Again giving off a cryptic and silent performance similar to Bourne as Texas Ranger LaBouef, tagging along with Jeff Bridges' boozy lawman "Rooster" Cogburn to hunt down a murderer, Damon effortlessly delivered a riveting performance in this Coen brothers picture. Quickly after that, Damon ventured out of the western genre and into the genres of science fiction and thriller, debuting a number of exciting films in 2011. Two of the biggest ones that stood out to me that year were the mind-bending adventure of The Adjustment Bureau and the medical thriller Contagion. Both highly suspenseful in both their storytelling and their characters -- one finding the actor on the run for his life and sanity in a world lost in both order and chaos, the other sending him into the deadly battlefield of a world-shattering virus -- the films displayed generous coupling of the two sides of Damon's acting ability -- one frenetic yet dashing at the appropriate moments, the other equally frenetic yet hauntingly compelling in the scariest of ways.


Continuing his dive into the plethora of cinematic genres, Damon starred in a number of forgetful roles as 2013 rolled around. From a car thief-turned-freedom fighter in the post-apocalyptic shoot-em-up Elysium to a weary World War II soldier seeking to save some art in The Monuments Men, it wasn't until 2014, when the actor snuck himself into Christopher Nolan's space epic Interstellar that Damon truly caught my attention again. Offering up a scheming performance as an astronaut lost on a desolate planet to die, Damon's role in the space flick delivered a fantastic -- and ironically humorous -- parallel to his role in 2015's The Martian, where he played a scheming astronaut lost on a desolate planet to die. While he ultimately didn't earn an Oscar for Interstellar -- but did snatch a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Mark Watney in Ridley Scott's satirical space adventure -- these space age roles reminded me that Damon, at the spry age of 45, can still kick ass -- and be a hilariously cocky prick -- in nearly any role he's faced with.


Just recently, I finally checked out one of Damon's first film roles, before he went to war with Steven Spielberg in Saving Private Ryan or even became the famous ass-kicking spy he's known for today, 1997's Good Will Hunting. Giving us not only our first peek at his screenwriting skill, but also a terrific performance as the arrogant South Boston janitor-turned-genius Will Hunting, Damon effortlessly stole the show, even when he acted against the legendary Robin Williams. Ushering a pivotal relationship between former classmates Damon and Ben Affleck, which continued through many of Damon's later roles (Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, The Third Wheel), the two even earned an Academy Award for the emotional and timely screenplay.

Now, as Matt Damon plans to bring a whole new level of intensity to his role of super spy Jason Bourne come Friday, the ever-charming and still just as bankable actor is set to continue his fast-paced rise through Hollywood that all started with some uncredited film roles and one phenomenal script.


With that, what's your favorite Matt Damon movie? Do you prefer him on his own or with his good  pal Ben Affleck? As stated in recent news, Damon would definitely be open to popping up in a Ben Affleck-directed Batman flick...But as whom you ask? Let me know your thoughts on Damon and his best roles in the comment section below, and remember to stay tuned next month for another Silver Screen Spotlight. (Hint: This one's gonna be pretty psychotic...)          

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