Matt Damon teams up with the uber-talented George Clooney to bring a little-known but true story from World War II to the big screen. We sat down with Damon to find out what working with Clooney is really like.
George Clooney co-wrote the screenplay for The Monuments Men, but we wanted to know if Matt Damon was Clooney’s first choice for the role of James Granger, who was based on the real-life James Rorimer. Rorimer later became director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“I don’t know — you’d have to ask him, but I was glad it came to me eventually,” said Damon. “It was a great role and a great story and not one I’d ever heard about, which surprised me because you’d think it was something we all knew.”
Even to this day, many wartime secrets are being revealed, but that wasn’t what drew Damon to the role. He was inspired by the risk these people took for the sake of preserving human culture.
“It’s a really cool concept. These guys are basically over-the-hill in soldier years. They are these art professors and historians and curators and they all go through basic training at the end of World War II and go to the front to try to recapture all the artwork that the Nazis had stolen.”
Why would these aging intellectuals do such a thing? “They risked their lives and some of them died, because they didn’t want the art destroyed. They wanted to reclaim it for civilization,” said Damon.
George Clooney is notorious for playing pranks on his fellow actors, and Damon was no exception. Trying to lose weight at the time, Damon was dumbfounded when his pants seemed to be getting tighter and tighter, making him believe he was gaining weight.
The truth? Turns out, Clooney was actually having the wardrobe department take in Damon’s costumes 1/8 inch every other day.
We think that’s scandalous, but even after six films together, don’t think Damon got cocky on the set. Watch our video to find out if Damon has plans to get revenge on Clooney.
The Monuments Men opens Feb. 7.