At this point in time, Matt Damon is at a place in his career as an actor where he can do anything he wants, so it was somewhat surprising to learn he was finally returning to writing for the first time since winning an Oscar for the screenplay for Good Will Hunting with plans to direct that movie. His partner in that journey was John Krasinski, best known for playing Jim on “The Office” but who had already written and directed his first movie Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, based on the late David Foster Wallace’s book.
Together, they wrote Promised Land, a film that follows a corporate salesman named Steve Butler (played by Damon) who visits a small town trying to get the farmers to lease their land for his company to drill for natural gas. He’s partnered with the seasoned vet Sue (Frances McDormand) and things are going well–Steve’s even hit it off with a pretty local schoolteacher (played by Rosemarie DeWitt)–until they’re confronted by a radical environmentalist named Dustin (Krasinski) who will do whatever it takes to turn the townspeople against Steve and Sue.
Damon was originally going to direct the movie, but couldn’t fit directing into his busy schedule, so he instead called upon Gus Van Sant who famously directed Damon’s debut Good Will Hunting before the two reunited for the improvisational Jerry a few years later.
A couple of weeks ago, ComingSoon.net attended the New York junket for the movie and talked to all three principal actors and director Gus Van Sant, but we’ll kick things off with Krasinski and Damon, since the project began with them.
First, we spoke with Krasinski about:
* How he and Matt Damon decided to write together
* What got him interested in the material
* The influence of Frank Capra and how he mixes dark with light
* How he’d like the movie to start a conversation and not necessarily a political one
* What he wants to do once he finishes “The Office” including writing more scripts
* Whether he might want to direct one of those scripts himself
Afterwards, we talked to Damon about:
* How he and John Krasinski ended up writing together
* How he’d been asked a lot about his writing over the years since “Good Will Hunting”
* The grey area to his character Steve Butler
* Pulling together the cast for the movie
* Reuniting with Terry Gilliam for “The Zero Theorem”
* Whether he might want to eventually direct something himself soon
* An update on how Neil Blomkamp’s Elysium has been going since we spoke at Comic-Con and how it’s tested well
* How it has more visual FX then any other movie he’s done so far
Promised Land opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, December 28 and then expands wide a week later on January 4, 2013. Look for our interviews with the duo’s lovely co-star Rosemarie DeWitt and director Gus Van Sant sometime before then.