Interview: Matt Damon on Downsizing

Matt Damon

Matt Damon’s latest movie, Downsizing shrinks him down to five inches in height in order to offset climate change, but don’t think there’s anything small about this movie with big ideas.  Take it from Matt…

INDULGE: Would you downsize if you could?

MATT: I wouldn’t do it. Just the insects alone would be reason not try something like that! And also, I like my life as it is.

INDULGE: But if you downsized, what would you want to do most?

MATT: I think definitely the world’s largest ski mountain. That was one of the things they had in Leisure Land. And one of those Kelly Slater wave pools…I’d definitely do one of those.

Kristen Wiig and Matt Damon consider downsizing.

INDULGE: The movie is about simplifying your life. What’s your take on this?

MATT: I remember going away one summer, we took a vacation and went to this very rural part of Costa Rica and I remember coming back and feeling like, all this stuff that we have, we really don’t need any of this. So it’s good to try and get in touch with that, to see what you personally can live without, because it’s probably more than you think.

INDULGE: What inspired you about your character?

MATT: I play a guy called Paul who is an occupational therapist at Omaha Steaks who helps people with work related injuries. He’s married and basically they can’t quite have the life that they want in Omaha and this idea of downsizing just starts to look more and more appealing to them. I think what inspires me most about Paul is that he’s just a really decent person. He’s incredibly naive in a lot of ways. As Christoph’s (Waltz) character says, “You’re a really nice guy, Paul. A little bit pathetic guy, but a nice guy”, and I think that’s true and that’s the great thing about him. His heart is in the right place.

INDULGE: Talk about the journey your character goes through in this movie.

MATT: The movie is about him kinda’ waking up to the world and his place in it, and he goes on this incredible journey to wind up at this wonderful place where he realizes that even in the face of apocalypse, what we do matters and how we treat people who are less fortunate than us matters; that it’s those little kindnesses that bind us together.

Matt Damon and Director Alexander Payne on the set of Downsizing from Paramount Pictures.

INDULGE: What was it like working with Director, Alexander Payne?

MATT: There’s never been a bad performance in an Alexander Payne movie. On the contrary, there have been some pretty exceptional performances. When you look at that as an actor, you go – that’s not just a coincidence. Working with him now, I understand a lot better, the precision with which everything is done and the painstaking lengths he goes to to tinker with every little thing in his frame until he’s got it exactly as he wants it. My brother who is an artist came to watch him film one day and he said, “Every frame is an Edward Hopper painting.” It really has that incredible attention to detail and yet looks kind of thrown away, kind of random, but there’s absolutely nothing random happening.

INDULGE: The message seems tailor-made for our times and the season…

MATT: The message really is optimistic. It’s about how we are to each other, and ultimately that’s what’s going to lift us all. I think that’s a nice message to put out during the holidays.

— KF

Downsizing is playing in theaters now. Please check your local listings here.