Hollywood star Matt Damon was born in Massachusetts, dropping out of Harvard University so he could pursue his passion for acting. His first pivotal role was in Geronimo: An American Legend which led him to Los Angeles. However, it wasn’t until a few years later that his acting skills were fully recognised.
He has gone on to enjoy a hugely successful acting career, with new film roles coming thick and fast. This article looks back at some of his top films, from his early career with Rounders and Goodwill Hunting to box office classics such as Ocean’s 11 and The Bourne Identity series.
Rounders is a 1998 movie that centres around the world of gambling, particularly poker. Damon’s character Mike McDermott is a reformed, card-counting gambler being seduced back into the alluring world of underground poker to help his friend, played by Edward Norton, pay off a gambling debt from a villainous loan shark.
Rounders is a cult classic for poker fans around the world. But it also appeals to the mainstream, although it does help if you understand the basics of how to play poker first. John Dahl’s film certainly set the bar high when it came to a movie around gambling and continues to be the gold standard for all-time best poker movies.
In addition to its stellar cast, including John Malkovich, the level of detail, education, and integrity of the poker playing in the film is second to none. So, whether you are a novice or a seasoned poker player, Rounders is a must-see, even if it is only to watch Matt Damon’s performance.
Good Will Hunting
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The iconic 1998 movie Good Will Hunting can probably be credited as the movie that launched Damon’s career. You can certainly see why with an all-star cast, including the late Robin Williams. Damon plays the character Will Hunting who works as a janitor at MIT even though he has a genius-level IQ.
One of the professors at the University discovered his talents when Hunting easily solves a graduate-level math problem, and the professor decides to help Hunting reach his full potential. When Damon’s character is arrested for assaulting a police officer, Lambeau, the professor, makes a deal for leniency if Hunting receives treatment from a therapist, played by Williams.
It’s a movie that somewhat captures the limitless possibilities of youth and that with the right guidance and mentoring, no matter what your background, anything is truly possible.
Originally a 1960’s rat-pack movie, Ocean’s 11 was remade in 2001 with a blockbusting cast, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and, of course, Matt Damon. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Ocean’s 11 follows the escapades of Danny Ocean, a debonair thief fresh out of jail who gets together a team of specialists to carry out a heist across three separate casinos in Las Vegas. The joints are all owned by casino tycoon Terry Benedict, who also happens to be the boyfriend of Ocean’s ex-wife, Tess.
In this comedy-crime caper, Damon plays Linus Caldwell, son of a legendary con artist and a pickpocket whose skills form an essential part of the casino heist planned by Ocean. It was a pivotal role for Damon, which sky-rocketed his popularity and his acting career. He went on to star in both sequels: Ocean’s 12 and Ocean’s 13.
The Bourne Identity
No list of the best Matt Damon films would be complete without mentioning the Bourne Identity franchise (you really should watch these in order). It not only smashed box office numbers but also kept fans of Damon and espionage movies alike on the edge of their seats.
In the first chapter of this complicated yet enthralling action movie franchise, we see Damon dragged from the water by an Italian fishing boat, close to death and with no memory of who he is or how he came to be floating in the ocean in the first place.
With fighting, self-defence and enviable linguistics skills, Damon goes on a frantic search to discover his true identity, closely followed by deadly assassins who are intent on finishing what they started.
Damon was perfectly cast as Jason Bourne in this fast-paced, violent, gory action-packed thriller, and the film was critically acclaimed, grossing over $1.6 billion at the box office. Definitely a notable string to the bow of Matt Damon and his acting career and a role that catapulted him to Hollywood stardom, with follow-ups including The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum and The Bourne Legacy.