January 14, 2011

Matt Damon Talks to Dead People in “HEREAFTER” (Opens Jan19)


Matt Damon plays George Lonegan, a reluctant psychic medium trying to break free from the desperate people seeking one last moment with loved ones that have passed on, in Warner Bros.' new supernatural drama, “Hereafter.”

After working with Damon on “Invictus,” director Clint Eastwood hoped to cast the actor in “Hereafter,” a desire Damon echoed. “I originally thought that my schedule wasn’t going to permit me to do it because I was on another movie when Clint called me,” Damon remembers. “I said, ‘Did you just call me and say you have a Peter Morgan script that you’re directing? You want to offer me the part and it’s going while I’m working on another movie? I’d rather be tortured than get that call,’” he deadpans. “But it worked out, luckily, because Clint is so flexible. I love working with Clint and his whole team.”

Since the story is comprised of three separate storylines in three countries, Eastwood was able to shoot the film in a way that accommodated Damon’s schedule. “I thought, why not just do the two stories and then do Matt’s story when he’s available?” Eastwood recalls. “So, that’s what we did. I’m obviously a fan of Matt’s and knew he could really play the character’s conflict.”

“I think Matt is emerging as one of the most important actors that we’ve had in a long time, when you look at the body of work and the array of roles that he’s taken on,” producer Kathleen Kennedy comments. “And one of the reasons he loves working with Clint is that there is always going to be something that he can learn from him in terms of acting or directing.”

The actor describes his character as “a very lonely guy. He has, within the last three years, made a big life change because of this ability he has to talk to people that have passed on. It’s something he doesn’t want, that he looks at more as a curse than a gift. It interferes with his ability to be intimate with anybody because of what he experiences when he makes any kind of physical contact with them.”

Though George is genuinely gifted, he is aware that the field of psychics and mediums is rife with phonies and the pseudo-scientific. “We try to show the legitimacy of what he does,” Eastwood notes, “as opposed to the charlatans out there. Whether there are some who are legitimate and others who are not is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak, but the story does touch on the existence of people that take advantage of those who want to make contact with what might be out there.”

The one place George has always found refuge is in CD recordings of the works of Victorian novelist Charles Dickens, read by English actor Derek Jacobi. “George realizes that he’s connected to this writer who’s got all these ghosts in his head that are there with him all the time,” Damon remarks.

Seeking to leave his past behind, George embarks on a pilgrimage to Dickens’ London home. “George is searching for a way to get beyond this situation he’s been stuck in for so long,” says producer Robert Lorenz.

George’s journey leads him to the London Book Fair and on a collision course with the story’s two other lost souls. “I think all the characters in this film are trying to re-engage in life,” Damon observes. “And George needs to come to understand the value of this gift that he has.”

Opening soon across the Philippines, “Hereafter” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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