While Matt Damon has taken the back seat to his “True Grit” co-stars Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld so far this awards season, the actor was acknowledged Friday night (January 14) by the Broadcast Film Critics Association during the 16th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards for his humanitarian efforts.
In a segment presented by Jimmy Kimmel and Emily Blunt, Damon was given the fourth annual Joel Siegel Award for Service to the Community. While Kimmel provided comic relief, joking that the Oscar winner is “the greatest guy in the world,” the actor received serious accolades for his charity, Water.org.
Blunt, who stars with Damon in the upcoming film “The Adjustment Bureau,” explained that the organization Damon co-founded with Gary White helps to “provide developing countries with safe drinking water and sanitation by partnering with local communities.”
As Blunt delivered the staggering statistics that less than 1 percent of the Earth’s water is drinkable and more than 1 billion people don’t have access to clean water, Kimmel continued to kid with Damon, telling him, “Sean Penn is actually in Haiti right now … carrying things!”
Kimmel, who gets the last laugh at Damon’s expense every night on his late-night show, then cried foul on Damon’s many awards, mocking, “You know how much water he wasted in that shower scene in ’School Ties’? A lot!”
Damon, playing as good a sport as ever to Kimmel’s jabs, then took the stage to accept his award to a standing-ovation audience that included his “Good Will Hunting” collaborator Ben Affleck. After taking a shot back at Kimmel — “I literally have no idea why you’re here,” he quipped — Damon got serious about receiving what he described as “a wonderful honor.”
The actor acknowledged the work of late film critic Joel Siegel, who, as Damon told the crowd, “Believed that you should use celebrity to improve the lives of others and he lived that way. So, I’m really honored to get this in his name.”
Though plenty of the segment included joking around with Kimmel, Damon got very serious when he delivered the news that, “Every 15 seconds, a kid somewhere on planet Earth dies because they don’t have access to clean water and sanitation.”
Calling that information “disgusting and unacceptable and unnecessary,” he added, “These are issues we’ve known how to solve here for 100 years in our country. … Just imagine if we cured AIDS tomorrow and in 100 years people were still dying of it, 3 million of them a year. It’s just really ridiculous.”
Damon concluded his speech by thanking his partner, White, and informed viewers that by donating $25 on the Water.org website, they could give a child “clean water for life.” He then promised that they would change the fact that 1 billion people do not have clean water and offered to viewers, “Feel free to join us.”