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Berlin: Damon on Affleck’s ‘Rough Spot,’ ‘Promised Land’’s Bomb, and Berlin’s Airport Debacle

Berlin: Damon on Affleck’s ‘Rough Spot,’ 'Promised Land'’s Bomb, and Berlin’s Airport Debacle

At a press conference following the screening of his and Gus Van Sant’s “Promised Land” at the Berlinale Friday, Matt Damon was asked what the chances of Ben Affleck’s “Argo” winning the Academy Award, and if he was tired of talking about his friend and business partner. “His life is so interesting, I never get tired of talking about him,” said Damon with a smile.  “He’s been on a roller coaster for the last fifteen years.”

Damon noted that he and Affleck have a company together.  “And with the success of ‘Argo,’ [Affleck] called me a few months ago and said, ‘We gotta get offices!’  We’re going to rent some offices, so it will be a little bit more of an official company, with letterhead and signs.”

“But I’m really happy for him.  He’s worked so hard and he’s taken it on the chin for years from the press and from just everywhere.  He was really in a rough spot ten years ago. He would say to me that he was in the worst place you could be career-wise: ‘I sell magazines, I don’t sell movies.’

Affleck, added Damon, had been in a kind of jail, but he managed to pull himself out. “The last five years he’s directed some fantastic movies. And his acting, he’s done remarkable work in a short amount of time. I’m just really happy for him. Who knows what his chances are for best picture but I’m certainly going to be pulling for those guys.”

As for “Promised Land,” Damon admitted that the film had not done well in the U.S., but that he and co-writer John Krasinski and director Gus Van Sant still believed in it, and wouldn’t change it.  He remains hopeful: “I’ve had movies bomb worse than this one and then actually make their money back.”  He suggested that time may tell, in terms of both finances and the film’s reception. “We’ll probably know more in ten or fifteen years.”

Van Sant was noticeably quiet throughout the press conference, attended by some three hundred journalists from around the world. It was Damon they wanted to hear from, on just about anything. A local reporter, who may win the award for the stupidest question of the 63rd Berlinale, asked the actor if he was aware of the problems Berlin has had in opening its new airport — currently under construction and years behind schedule – and what he thought about all that.

“When I first came here ten years ago,” said Damon, “people were telling me about the new airport opening in five years.” Noting that he will be back in Berlin next month to begin filming on “Monuments Men,” with George Clooney, he added: “But if you’re asking me if I will miss the layover in Frankfurt, waiting for my connecting flight, the answer is no, I won’t.”

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