Matt Damon on The Bourne Indentity

ByABC News via via logo

N E W   Y O R K, June 13, 2002 -- Matt Damon picked up some tips on boxing and hairdressing while filming The Bourne Identity.

In his interview with ABCNEWS' Diane Sawyer, Damon says the fight scenes in Bourne cost him a case of champagne. And find out why everyone's bugging him for a free hair cut. Read the transcript of his interview with Sawyer.

Below is an uncorrected, unedited transcript from the interview as it aired on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.

DIANE SAWYER: How are you feeling?

MATT DAMON: I'm exhausted.

SAWYER: You've been traveling. You just got back from London where you were doinga play?


SAWYER:That's great.

DAMON:I was in London doing a play for the last couple of months andthen I've been traveling around for the last couple of weekspromoting The Bourne Identity. And I was just saying that thiswas the first night in a few months that I slept in my own bed.


DAMON:And so I slept so well.

SAWYER:Bliss, bliss. Just rolling around in your own sheets and …

DAMON:Stretching out and just — it was great, it was great.

SAWYER:… flopping around.


SAWYER:So, now, is this a true story or not a true story? The director hadsome nerve. When you were getting ready to do The Bourne Identity,the director came to you, lifted up your shirt and said, "Hit thegym."

DAMON:Oh, yeah, that's true, that's true. Well, we were trying to figureout what the guy should look like and all the work that would gointo it. And we decided on this pretty serious regimen of martialarts and boxing and weapons training and all this stuff, and we kindof talking about it, theorizing kind of you know, six months outor something. And he came over and just picked the shirt up andlooked at me and it was just enough, "OK, enough — you know, enoughtalk."

SAWYER:Were you stung a little bit?


SAWYER:Were you sucking in the abs, there?

DAMON:I'm proud of my gut. When I'm not working, It's myfavorite part of my body.

SAWYER:I think, be true to your gut.

DAMON:Yeah, absolutely.

SAWYER:All right, all right. I'm going to do a bad summary here because Iwant to play a clip, but this is a real action thriller about aguy who's running in terror from people trying to kill him, but infact, he's also running toward his identity. He doesn't know who heis.


SAWYER:He has amnesia. Here's a clip when he's talking to the girl whobefriends him. (Clip from The Bourne Identity)

SAWYER:Hard to make credible, amnesia, for you, because you do it, you getit done. But I wonder, going in, if you think how doyou convince people that you really don't know the essentials of yourlife?

DAMON:Yeah. We kind of decided early on that I'd just do a lotof, you know, all this physical stuff because we kind of assumedthat his bearing would be the same — hisphysical presence would be the same as it wasbefore he lost his memory. So all that training and stuff was to, all the boxing I was doing … Doug Liman, the director,said, "I want the character to walk like a boxer. I want him to standlike a boxer." And just little things like when you talk to a cop,even if he doesn't have his gun on, if he's off duty, he'llstand, if he's right-handed, with his hip away from you and justat an angle, and just because he's …

SAWYER:So your body remembers who you are, even when you don't.


SAWYER:Now, let me just also say, about — it's Franka Potente, am I …

DAMON:Franka Potente, yeah.

SAWYER:Right, Franka Potente, who's the girl in that. You raiseshampooing someone's hair to a whole new level. I got to rethinkgoing to the beauty salon here. Have you ever done that beforewith …

DAMON:Well, yeah. I did, you know, four months of cosmetology school to dothat scene, yeah.

SAWYER:Well, that's where you learned to do that thing you do in the film.

DAMON:Well, that was funny. We only had one wig. I, you know, I shampooher and then I cut it and we only had one wig do that on and it wasan expensive wig. It was the wig that she wears for the first partof the movie. And so it's supposed to be her hair, you know.And then, so when I cut it, and I'm cutting it in these like clumps,you know, we got a kick out of the fact that, you know, in the nextscene, when her hair comes out, it looks really kind of contemporaryand great.

SAWYER:You're pleased with yourself, right?

DAMON:Yeah. People have been asking if I'll cut their hair and I'm tellingthem, "You don't want me to go anywhere near your hair."

SAWYER:Oh, I don't know. But anyway, the action stuff you're talking about,amazing car chase. You're claiming up and down buildings andyet you said that even working with the stuntman, that you kepthitting him.

DAMON:Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, all the fighting I wanted to do myself.Everything I could do, I wanted to do because, you know, Doug and Iwere, you know, decided, and — and Frank Marshall, the producer, said,"You know, these audiences are so smart now and they know if it'syour or they knows if it's a stuntman. And so the more I can doand carry off, the more credible the whole performance isand the more fun the audience is going to have watching it. So,this poor stuntman in this scene, he's an actor named Nicky Node, and he's an ex-kickboxer, so we rehearsed this scene for sixweeks, this fight, and we choreographed it and …

SAWYER:You mauled him?

DAMON:Well, I knew I was going to accidentally punch him, so I told him,"Look, man, I'm going to accidentally hit you, so I'll give you abottle of champagne for every time I accidentally punch you in theface." He said, "Oh, this is very good for me."

SAWYER:And he can retire now.

DAMON:Yeah. Well, by the end of it, I owed him a case of champagne, so.

SAWYER:So much has been made of the fact that your good friend, Ben Affleck,has a new movie out, Sum of All Fears, this weekend, with Jack Ryanthe star of this. So I have two questions of for you. In a game ofJeopardy!, Jason Bourne takes on Jack Ryan. Who wins?

DAMON:It depends what shape his memory's in at that point. You know, ifhe's got …

SAWYER:I suppose that's true.

DAMON:… if he's got his memory back, then he'd giveJack Ryan a run for his money, probably.

SAWYER:And in a wrestling match?

DAMON:Well, you've got to yeah, you have to give the edge to Bourne there,because Ryan's like an analyst, you know. He's more of a bookishtype.

SAWYER:Do you think you could whup him?

DAMON:Yeah, Bourne would whup him.

SAWYER:And he's got his 30th birthday coming up?

DAMON:Ben does in August, yeah.

SAWYER:And are you party planning?

DAMON:I'm one of the party planners, yeah.

SAWYER:Oh, dear.

DAMON:But we can't talk about any details because I'm sure there'llbe a lot of embarrassing things for Ben on his birthday.

SAWYER:Oh, that's the point, isn't it?


SAWYER:Anyway, I know you're going to stick around because we're going totalk a little bit next about the book each of us would give ourfriend if we could give them one book, and you're going to tell usyour selection. We'll take a break. We'll be back with Matt again.

On return from commercial break, Damon revealed the book he'd choose if stranded on a desert island: "For me, if I could give one person, or if it was a desert island book, it would probably be the complete works of Shakespeare, just because it's so dense, so I got more bang for my buck there."

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