Matt Damon: Christopher Nolan changed my career plans

Matt Damon was planning an acting hiatus with his wife, but a film offer from Christopher Nolan changed his plans although Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and Robert Downey Jr. each received a low fee of $4 million for their roles in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer

The 52-year-old actor agreed to take a break from the movie business after discussing the issue with his wife Luciana, until Christopher offered him a role in ‘Oppenheimer’.

Matt – who has been married to Luciana since 2005 – told Entertainment Weekly: “This is going to sound made up, but it’s actually true.

“I had – not to get too personal – negotiated extensively with my wife that I was taking time off. I had been in ‘Interstellar,’ and then Chris put me on ice for a couple of movies, so I wasn’t in the rotation, but I actually negotiated in couples therapy ­- this is a true story – the one caveat to my taking time off was if Chris Nolan called. This is without knowing whether or not he was working on anything, because he never tells you. He just calls you out of the blue. And so, it was a moment in my household.”

Matt stars in the biographical thriller film alongside the likes of Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh.

And the Hollywood star previously revealed that he jumped at the chance to join the project, which centers on J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who helped to develop the first nuclear weapons.

He told The Hollywood Reporter: “[Christopher] said to me, ‘This is the kind of movie that they used to make in the ’90s.’

“It feels like when an Oliver Stone movie would come out and you’d go, ‘That’s one of the movies I’m going to see this year no matter what, because everyone’s going to be talking about it.’ But those movies have disappeared from the multiplex.”

Matt Damon & Emily Blunt Gave Us an Unexpectedly Powerful Sci-Fi Thriller

The enormous excitement for Christopher Nolan‘s Oppenheimer is in no small part due to its enormous cast of famous talent. As such, it’s no surprise that a large number of its cast members have starred in several films and franchises together before Oppenheimer. Most obvious is the inclusion of Cillian Murphy, Gary Oldman, Matthew Modine, and David Dastmalchian who all appeared in at least one of Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. Oppenheimer‘s Florence Pugh, Robert Downey Jr., David Dastmalchian, and even Matt Damon have all appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe too. But one pairing, who have been seen together during press for Nolan’s atom-bomb epic, may ring a bell for keen-eyed film fans. In 2011, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt starred together in a sci-fi adventure cut from the same cloth as Nolan’s Inception or Tenet — one that deserves far more attention than it’s been given.

The Adjustment Bureau was written and directed by Ocean’s Twelve screenwriter George Nolfi in his directorial debut. The film is based on the short story Adjustment Team by Philip K. Dick whose other sci-fi stories have brought us such cinematic adaptations as Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, and Minority Report. The film stars Damon as a U.S. Congressman and Blunt as a ballerina whose lives become entangled in a Matrix-level conspiracy when being together means fighting a higher power. The Adjustment Bureau received largely positive critical reviews and was even considered a box-office success, grossing $127 million against its $50 million production budget.

What Is ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ About?

David Norris (Damon) is a New York senatorial candidate whose drunken mooning during a college reunion makes the papers and costs him the election. Escaping the crowds to reflect on this, David enters the men’s room where he finds a beautiful gatecrasher named Elise (Blunt) hiding from security. The chemistry between the two is instant, and they kiss, but when David’s campaign manager Charlie (Michael Kelly) summons David to give a speech, Elise excuses herself, and David regrets not getting her number when he had the chance. According to fate, this was meant to be the only time these two made contact, and to prevent them from running into each other again, Agent Richardson (John Slattery) instructs his underling Harry (Anthony Mackie) to spill coffee on David’s shirt in the street. When Harry falls asleep though, he misses his chance, and David and Elise exchange numbers on the bus. This causes the Adjustment Bureau to take drastic measures in putting fate back on its tracks.

When David eventually arrives at work, he fails to notice that his colleagues are frozen in time, until he finds a frozen Charlie being scanned by military-style agents with unfamiliar tech. The agents capture David and inform him of their work as agents of fate, explaining that if he agrees to never see Elise again and never tell another human about the Adjustment Bureau, they will spare him from their routine brain reset. Confused by what he just learned, David tries to recall Elise’s phone number from memory. He is then approached by a remorseful Harry. Harry warns David that the Bureau are essentially the angels and that they will stop at nothing to keep him from meeting Elise again. For three years, David rides the same bus in the hopes of running into Elise, and when he eventually does, he triggers a chase for their lives and a fight to control their own fates. The movie becomes a conspiracy-driven adventure, equal parts thrilling and romantic.

What Is the Real Meaning Behind ‘The Adjustment Bureau’?

The movie depicts a world in which free will is an illusion. When David is confronted by Richardson’s superior Thompson (Terence Stamp), he is told, “You don’t have free will, David. You have the appearance of free will. You have free will over what toothpaste you use or which beverage to order at lunch, but humanity just isn’t mature enough to control the important things.” Thompson goes on to explain how David meeting Elise three years prior was the Bureau’s doing. She inspired him to give a speech that saved his career and put him on course for becoming a future U.S. president. This foresight tempts David to give in to his successful fate. “David, you can change the world, but that doesn’t happen if you stay with her,” explained Thompson. This scene encapsulates the entire film perfectly, climaxing with the two sides of this premise’s central dramatic argument; Thompson’s statement that “you can’t outrun your fate,” and David’s rebuttal. “All I have are the choices that I make, and I choose her.”

Ultimately, the truth Thompson hides from David is that the reason being with Elise wouldn’t lead to his presidency isn’t that she would ruin his chances, but rather, that the contentment she would provide David with would be enough, and he would no longer seek approval from the public through his politics. By proving to the Bureau and its unseen Chairman just how determined they are to be together, the characters in The Adjustment Bureau illustrate the metaphorical lengths we are willing to go to for our loved ones. The film suggests that free will is a gift we don’t know how to use until we fight for it. Perhaps the Bureau’s Chairman (a proxy for God) has an overarching plan that involves people taking their responsibility seriously enough that He may one day no longer need to interfere

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Adam Regan
Adam Regan
Deputy Editor

Features and account management. 3 years media experience. Previously covered features for online and print editions.


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