Matt Damon's latest role, in this month's We Bought a Zoo, is a heartrending one. He plays a newly widowed dad who decides to make a major life change — and a fresh start — by buying and revamping a struggling wildlife park. We spoke to Matt at a recent press day for the movie, and he told us his own wife and children inspired his performance and admitted that he wouldn't have been able to take on the emotionally challenging role without having them in his life. Matt also talked about having his daughters hang out on the set and what surprised him about acting opposite animals on the project. Check out our interview and catch We Bought a Zoo when it hits theaters on Dec. 25!
This thing's going to go, like, a month over. Right. You know? There's no way. I mean, there are animals, there are children, like, and we finished right on they were particularly enamoured of crystal, the capuchin monkey. Right. You're playing a man in this movie who's just lost his wife. Did knowing the kind of emotions that you'd need to tap into give you any pause before taking on the role? Having my wife and my kids like really helped me kind of relate to the character. And, you know, i don't, i couldn't have played this 10 years ago. Certainly not this way. And i found it pretty effortless, just because i could so relate to the dude's struggle. Right. Now, tell me a little bit about the man that it's based on, Benjamin. Did you get to meet him? He came, and he's an extra in the movie. He and his kids came about two thirds of the way through they came and shot a scene. Our story is obviously very different from his but - sure - but we did try to retain kind of integrity and that kind of quest for authenticity that he had. Now you have a lot of one on one interactions with the animals in this movie and I can't imagine they always cooperated when the cameras were rolling. So, was there like a particularly memorable time when things went a little wrong? You know, I said to my wife when we, when we took the job, I said this thing's gonna go like a month over Over, right. There's no way, their animals, their children, and we finished right on time,which, I mean,the trainers really. think Cameron was really clear with them about exactly what we needed from the animals, and then, they were really clear with him about, what we could and couldn't do, and they all made a really good plan, and it worked. kind of, exactly. I mean, if we went and did the movie again, we might go a month over, you know? Sure. But it just really worked out for us. Now, did your daughters get to come by the set and interact with any of the animals? Constantly, yeah. Yeah, they loved it. They were particularly enamored with Crystal, the Capuchin monkey. Yeah. Right. So I have a lot of pictures of them with Crystal on their shoulders. Which took them a while to have the courage to let Crystal get on their shoulder. Right. It could be a little intimidating, I can see. Crystal's like their size, you know? Uh-huh. But they did great and they really, they really liked her. Now tell me about working with Cameron. I've read that music is so integral to his process and that he actually made playlists for all of the scenes in this movie. Yah, and that I hadn't seen that before. He would play music while the scene was going on, which is normally a big no-no because you're going over the the track. Right. And you're going to have to loop all the, all the dialogue but, but he did it and it really did kind of help in a lot of the scenes