Matt Damon is one of the world’s finest actors, and he’s worked with some of the greatest directors in Hollywood – Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, Clint Eastwood. He made his name with Good Will Hunting, a drama that he co-wrote for himself to star in and ended up winning an Oscar for it at a record-breaking young age.
He has an incredible body of work. But not every movie can be The Martian. Not every role can be Jason Bourne. Naturally, in any movie star’s career, there are going to be some lame ducks (and some hidden gems). Here are 10 Forgotten Matt Damon Roles.
Top of the list of movies that shouldn’t have gone past the basic premise stage, Stuck on You is a gross-out comedy about the wacky misadventures of two conjoined twins played by Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear. One of them wants to be a movie star. Yes, it is as bad as it sounds.
The Farrelly brothers, one of whom just won two Oscars for his work on Green Book, directed the movie. They’re best known for hit comedies like Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary, but this one missed the mark.
Terry Gilliam is a highly acclaimed director, but he’s never really had a big hit. That’s why A-list actors who take roles in his films often go under the radar as hardly anyone actually ends up seeing the movie. The Zero Theorem is the third part in Gilliam’s unofficial “Orwellian triptych,” which also contains Brazil and 12 Monkeys, and it stars Christoph Waltz as a guy trying to figure out a mathematical formula to determine the meaning of life.
As one might expect, it’s a trippy ride. Matt Damon plays Management, a role that originally had Al Pacino attached to it. He delivers a great monologue about how humanity’s need to believe in a god makes this life meaningless. Very interesting stuff.
It’s tough for a made-for-TV movie to be truly memorable. Even if it’s on HBO, it’s still a made-for-TV movie. A few years ago, Steven Soderbergh directed Behind the Candelabra, a Liberace biopic starring Michael Douglas as the iconic flamboyant pianist and Matt Damon as his partner Scott Thorson.
It’s a brilliant movie, capturing not only the life of Liberace, but his spirit, too. It could’ve been quite successful if it had a theatrical release, but unfortunately, the big movie studios aren’t run by the most progressive of people and they turned down the script for being “too gay.”
Titan A.E. is an animated post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure with a star-studded voice cast including Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, Janeane Garofalo, Nathan Lane, and John Leguizamo. Matt Damon plays the lead role of Cale Tucker, an underdog everyman hero.
Sadly, although the movie has incredible visuals and a gripping plot, it was a terrible box office failure, resulting in a $100 million loss for 20th Century Fox. Joss Whedon was one of the writers who worked on the film. It still has yet to find a cult audience, but it will. Its animation is too gorgeous for it not to eventually find a fan base.
In the hysterical, yet little-known comedy EuroTrip, Matt Damon makes a cameo appearance as Donny, the guy who the lead character Scotty’s girlfriend has been cheating on him with. He’s a punk rock musician who goes up on stage at a party Scotty is attending after he found out about his girlfriend’s infidelities and sings a song called “Scotty Doesn’t Know” about all the things he did with Scotty’s girlfriend without his knowledge.
Damon ended up appearing in the movie because he knew writer-directors Jeff Schaffer, Alec Berg, and David Mandel from college and happened to be shooting The Brothers Grimm in the same city they were shooting EuroTrip. Movie magic.
A couple of years ago, some Chinese film producers cast Matt Damon in a big-budget monster movie about the dragons who threatened the Great Wall of China (not the Mongolian invaders – dragons) to give it some Hollywood appeal. When Jimmy Kimmel hosted the Oscars that year, he called it “a Chinese ponytail movie.”
The Great Wall’s action set pieces are exquisite, with spectacular special effects and visceral direction. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of a strong story. One good thing to note about the movie is that, although it stars Damon as a white protagonist in medieval China, it is not written as a “white savior” narrative.
We Bought a Zoo isn’t a bad movie. In fact, it’s an okay movie. It’s just that it's too mediocre to be memorable. It’s the story of a couple, played by Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, who buy a zoo and then try to get the zoo in working order in time for the reopening.
The problem with that premise is that it sounds tired and mundane before you’ve even started watching it. Cameron Crowe convinced Damon to take the lead role by sending him a copy of the old Scottish movie Local Hero and a CD of his own musical compositions along with the script.
Happy Feet, the inspiring story of a tap-dancing penguin was acclaimed by critics and danced its way to a worldwide box office haul of $384 million, was a huge hit. The 2011 sequel, however, was not. On a budget of $135 million, it grossed just $150 million at the global box office.
This financial disappointment led to the closure of director George Miller’s production company. Matt Damon played a krill named Bill – Bill the Krill – who was the best friend of Will the Krill, played by Brad Pitt, who wanted to race the Doomberg, the big iceberg that serves as the film’s villain.
In these post-A Quiet Place days, a movie written and produced by John Krasinski would get more attention. However, back in 2012, less fuss was made. He conceived Promised Land, a drama about fracking, and developed a story with author Dave Eggers before bringing the project to Matt Damon.
Damon and Krasinski wrote the screenplay together and Damon planned to make the movie his directorial debut. However, in the end, his Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant sat in the director’s chair. The movie has been criticized for its muddled views on the fracking issue, but its heart is in the right place.
For whatever reason, Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon only manage to produce successful gritty thrillers when Damon is playing Jason Bourne in them. They brought the same intensity, visual flair, and shaky camera work to Green Zone, but Damon was playing Roy Miller, so it flopped.
The movie’s problem was that it was highly politicized, being about the 2003 invasion of Iraq and all, and it had an enormous budget of $100 million. $100 million movies can’t be political – they need to have the widest appeal possible and nothing divides an audience more than politics. As a result, this movie was a box office flop and was quickly forgotten.