Damon walks the walk, talks the talk with 'Promised Land'
By Rick Bentley
Published: Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
With his new movie “Promised Land,” Matt Damon wants to get people talking about whether it's OK to do something that could have long-term risks if it's a solution to an immediate problem.
In the script Damon co-wrote with “The Office” star John Krasinski, the question is posed around the story of a natural gas company representative who comes to a small farming community with the promise of riches. His company wants to purchase the rights to do fracking, a process that uses high-pressure liquids to create cracks in rock layers for retrieving gas and petroleum products. There would be an immediate economic boost for a community where many farmers may lose their land. But the fracking could cause environmental problems that could ruin the land.
The film deals with a specific problem, but Damon sees it as a representation of a broader look at what's going on in America right now.
“We were talking about American identity and where we've come from, where we are and where we're headed. We knew that we wanted to have a hopeful ending and we wanted it to be a pro-community, pro-democracy kind of movie,” Damon says. “The point at the end is that if you don't get involved in the decision, it's going to be made for you. No one wants to go see a movie where they get a message at the end. That wasn't our intent. It was just to show this moment in time and the stakes when big money collides with real people who are struggling on the back end of a recession.”
Krasinski started the script with author Dave Eggers, but he needed a new writing partner when Eggers had to switch focus to write his next book. Damon, who was working on the feature film “We Bought a Zoo” at the time, agreed to work with Krasinski, whose week was filled with work on “The Office.” The pair met at Damon's house on the weekends to write and then used free time during the week for revisions.
The work included researching fracking and the more they dug into the matter, the more it appeared to be the perfect backdrop.
“The more we looked at it, the more we realized it was perfect because people are so divided. The issues are so complex. It is a temporary lifeline to some people. But there are potential downstream horrific outcomes,” Damon says. “It's such a high-stakes game, it was a perfect place to kind of set a movie about decisions we make as communities.”
Once filming started, Damon heard from people on both sides of the issues. Some told him that without the millions of dollars paid by the gas companies, they would have lost their farms.
Damon originally planned to direct the movie, but he decided the shooting schedule would take him away from his wife, Luciana Barroso, and his four daughters for too long a period. He turned to Gus Van Sant, who directed Damon in “Good Will Hunting,” to take over the film.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Visit ‘Jerusalem’ on the big screen, if not in person
- ‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’ teach lessons old as time
- Fiennes a force in ‘Invisible Woman’
- ‘300’ sequel prettier, less thrilling
- Miyazaki fan Gordon-Levitt happy with role in director’s new film
- ‘Gravity’ wins 7 Oscars, but ‘Slave’ is best picture
- Ellen’s epic ‘selfie’ sets record, crashes Twitter
- DVD reviews: ‘12 Years a Slave;’ ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ and 'Oldboy'
- Could Disney’s Oscar-winning ‘Frozen’ play bigger role in theme parks?
- ‘In Bloom’ takes look at war without and within teen lives
- ‘Elaine Stritch’ still seeks to grab the spotlight