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Matt Damon's 10 Most Memorable Characters, Ranked

There aren't many actors currently working in Hollywood who have been more successful than Matt Damon. With multiple franchises under his belt, in addition to countless awards and nominations, there's no denying that the young aspiring actor from Cambridge, Massachusetts has come a long way when you look at the prolific

With various new projects lined up in the coming years - like James Mangold's highly anticipated awards bait movie Ford v Ferrari, the upcoming Jay And Silent Bob Reboot, and the recently announced emotional drama Stillwater - it's clear that Damon has no intentions of slowing down any time soon, or resting on the laurels of roles that have come before. As we await the many new characters still to come, we're taking a look back at the most memorable roles in Damon's filmography so far.

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True Grit - Best Matt Damon Performances
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10 LaBoeuf (True Grit)

True Grit - Best Matt Damon Performances

When True Grit was released in 2010, the Coen brothers' adaptation of the beloved work by Charles Portis generated a lot of buzz when it came to the performances within it. But most of that buzz focused on Jeff Bridges' work as Rooster Cogburn, and Hailee Steinfeld's breakout performance as Mattie Ross.

Lost in the shuffle was Matt Damon's hilariously over the top performance as the hammy LaBeouf. LaBeouf is a character entirely out of the familiar for Damon's filmography. He's loathsome and vile and unapologetically sleazy - and Damon is clearly having the time of his life in this role, mustache twirling anti-heroics and all.

9 Ben Tenor (Stuck On You)

Stuck On You may not be the best movie in Matt Damon's filmography, nor was it exactly the biggest success either critically or financially. But there's no denying that the film was a marked change from his usual fare, and allowed him, along with Greg Kinnear, to show their true comedic talents - albeit in a very narrow role.

As one of two conjoined twins, Damon is tasked with the unconventional role of vying for comedic screentime when an actor is always attached to him, and always vying for that same comedic success. But the film also allows both Damon and Kinnear to tread unexpectedly emotional material, especially in its final act, when Ben and Walt decide to undergo separation surgery. Stuck On You may not be a great movie, but it sure is an enjoyable one, thanks in large part to these two actors.

8 Benjamin Mee (We Bought A Zoo)

 

Damon certainly is no stranger to the genre of the biopic, but the heartwarming, family-friendly drama We Bought A Zoo just might be his most adorable and lovable. Released in 2011, the film finds Damon taking on the role of Benjamin Mee, a widower and single father who takes on the daunting task of running a zoo.

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The role allows Damon to show his strengths as a family man actor, a romantic comedy lead, a gifted co-star to animals of all sizes and shapes, and a dramatic actor dealing with unexplored trauma and loss. We Bought A Zoo might be the cheesiest, most feel-good movie in Damon's impressive filmography, but his work as Benjamin Mee elevates the saccharine story to a new level and makes the movie thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

7 Linus Caldwell (Ocean's franchise)

Matt Damon in Ocean's 11

It's not easy to stand out in the cast of a franchise with veritable dozens of established actors and big-name stars. But with his role as the adorably nerdy and resourceful Linus Caldwell in the Ocean's Eleven franchise, Damon manages to do just that. Linus might not have the most to do out of the many characters that make up Danny Ocean's team of criminals.

But Damon makes the most of the material he's given, winning hearts and succeeding in key parts of cons whenever he's tasked with an assignment. As the new kid on the team, and a total aspiring grifter, Linus could easily sometimes come off as too eager to please or even a bit annoying. But thanks to Damon's acting caliber, that's never the case, and instead, Linus becomes one of the most lovable and valuable members of the team.

6 Colin Sullivan (The Departed)

With Jack Nicholson in The Departed - Best Matt Damon Performances

It's hard to accept the fact that All American good boy Matt Damon is capable of portraying utterly loathsome and villainous characters. But then again, typecasting isn't always for the best, and it's natural for an actor to want to break free from the constraints of the phenomenon.

That's all part of what makes Damon's chilling work as the corrupt Colin Sullivan in The Departed so utterly captivating. Opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson, Damon more than holds his own, stealing scene after scene no matter how corrupt and hateful his character may be. At the end of the day, his character meets a truly gruesome end - and it's a testament to the strength of Damon's acting that you never once feel sad on behalf of the familiar good guy Damon persona.

5 Tom Ripley (The Talented Mr. Ripley)

Matt Damon The Talented Mr. Ripley

Prior to the release of the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley, Damon was primarily known for his boyish good looks and overall good boy vibe. That's what makes his turn as the psychopathic Tom Ripley in the adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's classic thriller so profoundly unsettling and riveting all at once.

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In The Talented Mr. Ripley, Damon is able to flex his villainous muscles for the first time, showing that there's more to him than the roles he's been known for until that point. He also shows glimpses of the eventual action star he will become, whenever Ripley enacts one of his kills or takes on a new identity as part of his latest grift. Damon's display of barely restrained psychopathic glee and doe-eyed wonder elevate the movie, otherwise a standard thriller, to a whole new level.

4 Private Ryan (Saving Private Ryan)

Saving Private Ryan Matt Damon

Damon has a clear pattern of starring in movies where he just so happens to be the titular character, but few of those movies have the same stakes as the 1998 World War II epic Saving Private RyanCompared to many of the other actors in the movie, such as leading man Tom Hanks, Damon's role is comparatively small, but not for one moment is his presence in the film an insignificant one.

As the titular hero that the film's cast is determined to save, Damon's Private Ryan is magnetic and impossible to look away from. Through the horrors of war, the goal of returning James Francis Ryan to his family make the entire hard fought search and battle of the film worth it. And through his scenes and fresh faced stolen moments, Damon conveys just why Ryan is so very worth saving, and what he represents on a larger scale.

3 Mark Watney (The Martian)

Matt Damon as Mark Watney in The Martian

When The Martian was released in 2015, it was nothing short of a sensation, grossing well over $600 million in its theatrical run and earning countless awards and nominations - including an Academy Award nomination for Damon's work in the lead role of Mark Watney. The role is arguably one of the most grueling in Damon's career, as he drives the majority of the film through solo scenes and monologues, as well as some gruesome action sequences.

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Mark Watney is a role that allows Damon to show his comedic chops, his dramatic talents, and his action hero finesse. He embodies the role so completely that it's truly impossible to imagine any other actor taking on the role. And more than that, it's impossible to imagine any other actor in the role elevating the material to such a gripping, high-quality level the way that Damon did from the very beginning.

2 Will Hunting (Good Will Hunting)

Good-Will-Hunting-Matt-Damon-Robin-Williams

Damon's breakout role, which remains one of his best to this date, was in the 1997 film Good Will Hunting, which Damon famously co-wrote along with best friend and frequent collaborator, Ben Affleck. In the drama, Damon portrays young Will Hunting, a math genius who finds himself torn between his low status as a Southie born janitor working at MIT and the endless possibilities afforded to him for his future as a result of his intellect.

Damon imbues the role of the at once both innocent and all-knowing Will with the requisite amounts of humor and heartache, strength and suffering. He is magnetic in every scene he's in, and holds his own against established actors like the legendary Robin Williams, who would go on to win an Oscar of his own for his work in the role. Damon would come away with Oscar as well for the film, albeit for his writing work.

1 Jason Bourne (Bourne franchise)

Matt-Damon-as-Jason-Bourne-in-The-Bourne-Ultimatum

No other role could possibly top a list of Matt Damon's most memorable characters. Through his work in The Bourne IdentityThe Bourne SupremacyThe Bourne Ultimatum, and the middling followup Jason Bourne, Matt Damon established himself as an action hero for the ages and created a true super-spy hero that could rival James Bond in almost every measure.

In every film, Damon is the consummate action hero professional. He's also utterly breathtaking in his dramatic and emotional moments, unbelievably warm and compassionate in his moments of heroism, and downright heartbreaking in the moments where it's clear he has no idea of all that he's lost, given the memories of the life that he once had that were taken from him. It would be all too easy for any actor to portray Jason Bourne as nothing more than a killing machine. But in Damon's gifted hands, Bourne is one of the most uniquely human characters in all of film history, despite the limits of his genre and role.

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