Gift for Sarah - Matt Damon Video
So, I’ve met a few stellar men in this city. I mean really great guys – family men, star performers, experts, humanitarians, uber caring mailmen, the works… but I would have never guessed the nicest guy I would meet in NYC would be Matt Damon.
In my opinion (which happens to be quite critical after two decades of studying acting, writing and directing fervently), I would, hands down, say that Matt Damon is the greatest actor of our time. He has a few in close second, but no one can make a bad movie look good or play with more subtle intensity than Mr. Damon. I have never seen anything like it. Add to that, his number One Status Star Quality, and I could have never guessed he would also be more humble than my dog Fenway.
I have never spoken to an A lister with more humility, grace, compassion, warmth and class than this man.
My long time friend, Sarah, always had better taste than me and she discovered Matt Damon waaaaaaay before any of us ever heard of him. I was slow to warm, but after watching Good Will Hunting thirty times under Sarah’s surveillance, I became a fan. But it was only after watching several more of his movies through the years that I became speechless. (Talented Mr. Ripley? Come on. Show me a better performance. Try, go ahead. Bourne movies? A better action suspense trilogy? Really? Nope. Don’t think so. Etc…) Stunned. Greatness did not end with Brando or Dean…it was right here with Damon. Absolutely INCREDIBLE. Stunning. No one better. Period.
Now those of you who have a best friend of twenty years or more know the deal – there are a few promises you have to keep, a contract if you will. And the number 1 promise I had to keep to my girl was “If I ever met Matt Damon I would tell him about her.” That’s a lot easier said than done. But low and behold, the greatest actor of our time walked right up to me in Central Park about two months ago. I immediately knew what I had to do, but now I had to deal with bothering this guy in the middle of his day. He must have seen the conflict in my face because he looked at me with utter concern, as if to say “do you need help?” Well, I did need help but I was still squirming to ask for it. It wasn’t until he flashed the Damon smile that I could utter “Your name is Matt, right?” (oh great, what an opener!) True to his generous nature he cocked a half grin and said “yeah.” I explained that I was an actor too and how I had this friend… and before I could finish he interrupted my discomfort with “Video it. Take out your phone and video it. ” Really? Oh, wow, ok. Wow.
Now, I don’t know if it was his unbelievable kindness or simply that I knew this was the absolute biggest deal for Sarah, but now I was nervous. After my 10 seconds of filming Matt Damon (what?!!), we strolled for a bit and talked about education and a little about what I do to help kids and then I simply had to excuse myself. I completely forgot to tell him that when I teach writing I make my students write a paper on his character from Good Will Hunting and use this film to illustrate the classic “Hero’s Journey” by Joseph Campbell. I also forgot to tell him how he is the BEST. But I wanted the poor guy to enjoy his walk in the park and he had already given me such respect and listened to me so keenly that I was beyond self conscious and thrown off by his almost luminescent kindness. I had to go. I got Fenway’s attention and we were off.
But with the radiance of a spiritual leader and the charm of Humphrey Bogart, Matt didn’t miss a beat. After I called Fenway, he turned around and hollered “Hey! I like the name.” Cocked smile. (that smile should be insured, like J. Lo’s As$) And I exclaimed “Thank you!!! You wouldn’t believe how much sh*& we get in this city for that name.” To which he replied “Oh, I believe it.” And then Fenway, now exonerated by Matt Damon himself, walked tall and proud down Central Park West toward home, no longer afraid of snarling Yankee fans.
And I went home to collected myself. And sent the video to Sarah with strict instructions to not put it on Youtube. Sarah obviously fell off her chair and I believe to this day watches it daily as a direct line to that ephemeral feeling we all chase that “life really is good.”
And you would think the story ended there, but alas, there was more. Fate wanted me to see just how good of a guy he is. After I sent the video off to Sarah, I noticed a problem with my laptop, so I went to Apple. On my way, who did I bump into, again? Yes, Matt. But this time he was with his daughter, beaming at her. More full of life than the other fifty people on the street put together. So radiant! His smile emits energy. It’s like a Natural Resource or something. I squealed “I did not plan this!” to which he laughed, shared a few more pleasantries, and scooted off into the cab, full of life, looking like sunshine itself.
I think what stuck with me the most was how “for others” Matt appeared to be. He truly looked more interested in what I (little ‘ol me!!) had to say and was absolutely entranced by his daughter. (Maybe that is partly what makes him a great actor, his commitment to the moment, whoever and whatever happens to be in it, even if it’s me and Fenway.) He seemed concerned about others, more than himself. He was not only not self involved or caught up, but on the contrary, a vessel of charity and love. Astounding! The best of our time and he’s an incredible human being too. It exists folks, and it’s Matt Damon.
And why have I decided to share this story, now, months later? I didn’t want to cheapen it and have it end up on Youtube. It was a gift, for Sarah, from me and Matt. Period. But it occurs to me that the world (albeit my teeny tiny public audience) should know what an incredible guy he is. I am sure there is a lot of good press about Matt Damon. But what better litmus test than a nobody? He didn’t have to talk to me. I’m not a household name or a media outlet. He wasn’t going to gain anything by knowing me. I was really just a regular gal. And he treated me like a Queen. Just because. And he adored that little girl of his like she was the most important child on earth. Because I met a person that day, not a star. I met a regular guy that reminded me of “what’s possible” – as a human being. Matt Damon is more than just the greatest actor of our time, he is one of the greatest men around.
So I write to celebrate him. To honor what truly makes him special and what’s really hard to be sometimes – a good person.