Invictus: Intense On Many Levels
Matt Damon earned another Oscar nomination in 2010 for Invictus. The Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor this year could be his proudest. That's saying a lot given the fact Damon already has an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay along with his buddy Ben Affleck.
Damon speaks to the power of the true story that is at the soul of Invictus. How, did a nation torn apart by decades of Apartheid managed to come together for a moment when a team of Rugby players made them believe great things could be achieved if people only worked together.
SheKnows: Any pressure on you, Matt, to portray a real sports hero that perhaps Americans are not so familiar with?
Matt Damon: The first thing I did is I called Clint and I said that I can't believe this happened. I can't believe this story is true. He said he couldn't either. But, this is true. I immediately went and looked up Francois online. I said to Clint, "this guy is huge." (Laughs) He and I had never met, but I told him I was five (foot) ten. He said, "(In his best Eastwood) Oh, don't worry about that." OK, I won't worry about how I need to grow about six inches to play the guy. I had six months to get ready. I worked hard on the accent and training physically to kind of build myself up to try to pull off the illusion of being the captain of the South African rugby team. When I got to South Africa, the very first day, Francois had me over to his house for a gourmet dinner that he was cooking. He invited me to meet his wife and two boys. Morgan and I went. I just rang the doorbell, he opened the door and I looked at him. The first thing I said to Francois Pienaar was, "I look much bigger on film." He laughed, gave me a big hug and brought me into his house. That was it. We were off and running.
SheKnows: How much did Francois to turn to serve as a resource during the actual filming?
Matt Damon: He was an invaluable resource for me the whole time. Everything from what color was your mouthpiece to what his attitude towards leading a team and life in general. He's incredibly available.
SheKnows: And the aspect of this Nobel Peace Prize winner and human icon playing a role in this man's life…
Matt Damon: It was the greatest leader of our time reaching out to another leader and forging a bond with him and basically saying I need to use you to do this and the guy saying "I know exactly why." They were asked to exceed their expectations and this team exceeded expectations. It's a metaphor for what the country needs to do. Everybody's expecting him to not be able to heal the country.
SheKnows: What aspects of Francois did you feel the most important to get across to audiences?
Matt Damon: Francois' integrity and his leadership was what I needed to get across. Then, of course the physical things like lifting weights (laughs).
SheKnows: You had to get in fierce shape for the Bourne films. How does playing a rugby player differ in the training regimen?
Matt Damon: I was in better shape with this movie (than for the Bourne movies). Francois came to the gym with me a couple of times. This is his life. I don't want to embarrass him. If Jason Borne looks a little flabby, that's on me (laughs). I wasn't going to be for any lack of effort -- which actually is what the team is famous for. They are known for going the extra mile. Knowing themselves, to say that we might not be the most talented team and the line is even in the movie, the coach says, "We may not be the best team, but we will be the fittest." Francois told me their training regiment. It's unreal what those guys went through.
SheKnows: Matt, have you played rugby since working on Invictus?
Matt Damon: (Laughs) Hell, no.
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