With Clint Eastwood’s latest, “Invictus,” hitting theaters today, Matt Damon is set to continue the trend of successful films he has been producing since he made his first big splash on the Hollywood scene in 1997. As South African rugby player Francois Pienaar, Matt stars opposite Morgan Freeman (who seems born to play the part) as Nelson Mandela. In honor of the waves Matt is sure to make with his newest film, and the Oscar buzz he could receive for his “The Informant!” earlier this year, we have decided to take a look back at the evolution of Matt Damon.
Click the photo below to take a look back to how Matt became so famous, he spawned a hilarious music video!
Born on October 8, 1970, Matt grew up in Cambridge, Mass. where he was good friends with fellow actor Ben Affleck. At age 18, Matt got a single line in the Julia Roberts hit “Mystic Pizza” which spurred his acting career. Though he attended Harvard University for four years, he left without graduating to pursue a career in Hollywood.
His early films, like “Geronimo: An American Legend” and “Courage Under Fire,” earned him some recognition, but it wasn’t until he and Ben teamed up to write the screenplay and then star in “Good Will Hunting” in 1997 that he truly made a splash on the Hollywood scene. Matt and Ben shared an Oscar win for Best Original Screenplay and Matt was nominated for Best Actor. Both are Matt’s only Oscar recognition to date.
After the success of “Good Will Hunting,” Matt went on to do a variety of different projects to successful results. He did the triple-threat of “Rounders,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Dogma” in 1998; “The Talented Mr. Ripley” in 1999; and “Titan A.E.,” “Finding Forrester” and “All The Pretty Horses” in 2000. In 2001, Matt was cast in Steven Soderbergh’s dramedy “Ocean’s Eleven,” which went on two spawn to successful sequels in 2004 and 2007.
In 2002, Matt starred in the first film of his next successful franchise, Heath Ledger in Terry Gilliam’s “The Brothers Grimm,” in 2006 he starred in the Academy Award winning “The Departed,” and “The Informant!” this year.
Matt is not opposed to showing off his comedic side as well, which probably stems from being close friends with funnyman Kevin Smith. In the 2004 comedy “Eurotrip,” Matt starred as Donny who spawned the hit song from the movie “Scotty Doesn’t Know.”
He is also a running joke on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” as Jimmy signs off the show every night by saying, “My apologies to Matt Damon, we ran out of time.” In 2006, Matt finally did appear on the show but as he was about to start speaking, was cut off by Jimmy saying they were out of time. Matt curses out Jimmy and storms off the set it a segment that was proven after to be pre-planned. Matt also made a video with Jimmy’s then-girlfriend Sara Silverman where she confesses to Jimmy “I’m F**king Matt Damon.” Jimmy responded with his own video called “I’m F**king Ben Affleck.” He was also spoofed memorably in the film “Team America: World Police.”
The year 2007 was a successful year for Matt. He was awarded the 2,343rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was named People’s Sexiest Man Alive, and was named by Forbes as the most bankable actor for his average of $29 at the box office for every dollar he earned.
Though Matt’s role in “Invictus” is sure to be overshadowed by Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of Nelson Mandela, success does not seem to be dimming for him.