A perfect example of a Hollywood success story, Matt Damon indeed has strived hard to become one of the most influential stars in American film industry. He has gone through quite a long way as a struggling actor, facing failures as well as rejections during his journey to actualize his dream. Coming so close within inches to fame and fortune, he was often pushed back to disappointment yet quickly got up to keep searching what he looked for. Such great persistence and determination blended with the remarkable talent and skills that he possesses certainly did not turn out in vain. Almost a decade, he ultimately has soared to shine under the spotlight, going from an obscure actor to Hollywood's substantial thespian of his generation.
Born on October 8, 1970 in Boston, Massachusetts, Matthew Paige Damon is the second son of Kent Telfer Damon and Nancy Carlsson-Paige. Coming from an upper-class family of a tax preparer and a college professor, he pleasantly spent his early life in the high-class society of Newton before his parents decided to split up in 1973. Her mother afterwards took along little Matt and his older brother, Kyle, to the modest neighborhood of Cambridge where he grew up properly into an adolescent. A bright student who began to grow a profound interest in acting, he tried to develop his skills with the help from his drama teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School while also took part in several local theater productions.
As his desire to act became greater, Matt concluded it was time for him to look for a better opportunity out there, albeit his parents' disapproval of his career choice and their refusal to fund his trip. In order to cover the expenses, he used all his savings that were put in a joint account he shared with his best friend, Ben Affleck, who accompanied him in this initial journey. Landing their feet in New York, these two aspiring boys joined an audition for Donald Petrie's "Mystic Pizza" (1988), but it was only Matt who finally made it. Although the role he got was merely a one-line part, he assured himself that this would be a stepping-stone to his next move. Sadly, the optimistic view did not last long for he failed to secure any roles after his appearance as an extra in "The Good Mother" (1988).
Returning to his hometown, Matt put aside his desire to act and enrolled in prestigious Harvard University by 1988 to pursue a degree in English Literature. During this time, he joined the cast of a TV series called "Rising Son" (1990) and a big screen production of "School Ties" (1992), alongside Ben plus other young actors, like Brendan Fraser and Chris O'Donnell. Shortly thereafter, a promising chance approached when he was offered a supporting role in "Geronimo: An American Legend" (1993). With the hope that it would be a good vehicle for him to embrace his big break, he enthusiastically accepted this proposition which led to his shocking decision to quit his study despite a mere 12 credits away from being graduated.
To Matt's dismal, "Geronimo: An American Legend" did not get the expected result in the box-office despite its list of wonderful actors, such as Gene Hackman and Jason Patric. He then tried his luck in "Courage Under Fire" (1996), yet earned a little notice only for he was overshadowed by Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan who also starred in the film. Dispirited, Matt was close to the edge of giving up his career when he remembered a shelved screenplay he had created for an assignment in a playwriting class during his study at Harvard. Together with Ben, he revised it carefully, intending to sell the script to the film production company as he completed the writing. The initial attempt was offering it to Castle Rock Entertainment, but the endeavor was bitterly turned down since Castle Rock rejected the idea of its writers both starring in this movie-to-be. It was apparent that the refusal was based on the unpopularity of either Matt or Ben.
While kept trying to find a suitable buyer for the script, Matt secured a leading role in the adaptation of John Grisham's novel, "The Rainmaker" (1997), directed by Francis Ford Coppola. His excellent enactment of Rudy Baylor was successful to bring a buzz in the film industry this time. The same thing also happened to Ben as he gained more attention for his performance in "Chasing Amy" (1997). With this growing status, they confidently entered Miramax to show the script to its founder, Harvey Weinstein. Satisfyingly convinced Weinstein to purchase the work, they were given the roles they had aimed for at last. Entitled "Good Will Hunting", the manifestation of the script was released in December 1997, surprisingly became a box-office hit with a marvelous income of more than 138 million U.S. dollar.
The glorious attainment of "Good Will Hunting" still continued as it received nine Academy Award nominations in 1998, including the Actor in a Leading Role for Matt and the Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen) which finally was bestowed to Matt and Ben. Related to this great moment in the same year, Matt also obtained a Golden Globe Award in the category of Best Screenplay - Motion Picture as well as two nominations at Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Cast and by a Male Actor in a Leading Role plus a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama. From this time, the road to success and popularity indeed opened wide for him, enhanced with his enactment in Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" (1998). This World War II epic scored over 216 million U.S. dollar, propelling his career right to the peak while directing him to receive his third Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in 1999.
Mentioned by press as one of Hollywood Golden Boys, Matt created sensation in 1999 as he got out from his image of pretty boy through "The Talented Mr. Ripley" in which he brilliantly portrayed a psychotic bisexual murderer. "I never wanted to do the same kind of movies over and over anyway," he admitted. "So my theory on it all is I'm just gonna try and dodge the label and keep doing what I am doing." His choice to do so was proven worthy for he was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture at the 2000 Golden Globe Awards. He kept exploring more different human characters in his next movies, such as "Dogma" (1999), "The Legend of Bagger Vance" (2000), "All the Pretty Horses" (2000), and "Ocean's Eleven" (2001).
The year 2002 marked Matt's shift from drama genre into an action-adventure one, "The Bourne Identity" which was adapted from Robert Ludlum's novel with the same title. His venture amazingly was responded positively by public as the flick garnered almost 122 million U.S. dollars. He then turned his attention to comedy, playing one of conjoined twins who shared a liver with Greg Kinnear in "Stuck On You" (2003) before reprising the role of Jason Bourne in "The Bourne Supremacy" as well as of Linus Caldwell in "Ocean's Twelve." After the superb accomplishment of these two movies to collect more than 125 million U.S. dollars, he eagerly took part in Terry Gilliam's delayed project "The Brothers Grimm" and Stephen Gaghan's "Syriana" which both came up in 2005. These were followed by other high-profile movies of "The Departed" and "The Good Shepherd" in 2006.
2007, in the meantime, proved to be such a profitable period for Matt when he again appeared as Caldwell and Bourne in "Ocean's Thirteen" and "The Bourne Ultimatum", respectively, which both struck gold in domestic box office. Looking on the continuous on-screen success, it was really not surprising to find his schedule already got packed with a number of big screen stints up to the end of 2000s. Included in the list were those for "Margaret" (2008), "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" (2009), and "The Informant" (2009) as well as a 2009 dramatic project he set up with longtime pal Ben which is based on the true story of a pair of lawyers who spent 15 years overturning a murder conviction.
Apart from his career as a professional actor, Matt has established himself as a producer and also one of the founders of LivePlanet together with Ben Affleck in 1998. Previously called Pearl Street Productions, his company is well known for its "Project Greenlight" in which amateur filmmaking compete each others for winning a chance to get their original scripts filmed as an independent movie. First aired on HBO for two seasons before moving to Bravo for season three, this unique TV show has been granted two Emmy Awards in 2002 and 2004 in the category of Outstanding Reality Program. As for his love life, Matt has been romantically linked with some beautiful women, mostly his opposites in the films he was involved in, like Minnie Driver, Claire Danes, and Penelope Cruz. Briefly engaged to Winona Ryder, he also dated Skylar Statenstein and Odessa Whitmire, who is the personal assistant of Ben, before gave his heart to Luciana Bozan Barroso, whom he reportedly engaged to shortly before Labor Day in 2005.
In December the same year, the couple happily announced that they were waiting for their first child together as Barroso reportedly was three months pregnant followed by a marriage in a private civil ceremony on date 9 in New York City Hall. Legally becoming the stepfather to Barroso's young daughter, Alexia, from her previous marriage, Matt finally welcomed his own daughter Isabella on June 11, 2006 in Miami, Florida.