2013 Arts Medalist Ceremony: actor, writer, producer MATT DAMONPresented By Office for the Arts
Location: Sanders Theatre
Description of the EventMatt Damon '92 is the recipient of the 2013 Harvard Arts Medal, which will be awarded by Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust at a ceremony at Sanders Theatre. The event, presented by the Office for the Arts at Harvard's Learning From Performers program and the Board of Overseers of Harvard College, will include a discussion with Damon on his life and career moderated by fellow actor and Harvard alumnus John Lithgow '67. This is the official opening event for ARTS FIRST, Harvard University's annual festival showcasing student creativity in the arts. Admission is free and open to the public but tickets are required, available through the Harvard Box Office beginning Tuesday, April 16.
Matt Damon has been honored for his work on both sides of the camera, recently earning Academy Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and Critics' Choice Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of South African rugby hero Francois Pienaar in Clint Eastwood's true-life drama â€œInvictus.â€ In addition, he also garnered dual Golden Globe Award nominations, one for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in â€œInvictusâ€ and one for Best Actor for his starring role in Steven Soderbergh's â€œThe Informant!â€ Earlier in his career, Damon won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay and received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, both for his breakthrough feature â€œGood Will Hunting.â€
Damon's most recent release is â€œPromised Landâ€ directed by Gus Van Sant from a screenplay by Damon and John Krasinski. In 2011 he starred in a number of projects, including â€œWe Bought a Zoo,â€ directed by Cameron Crowe, the Coen brothers' remake of the classic Western â€œTrue Gritâ€; George Nolfi's thriller â€œThe Adjustment Bureau,â€ opposite Emily Blunt; the animated feature â€œHappy Feet 2â€; and Steven Soderbergh's thriller â€œContagion.â€
In 2002, Damon originated the role of Jason Bourne in the blockbuster actioner â€œThe Bourne Identity.â€ He went on to reprise his role in the two hit sequels, â€œThe Bourne Supremacyâ€ and â€œThe Bourne Ultimatum,â€ both directed by Paul Greengrass. He has also repeatedly teamed with Steven Soderbergh: as part of the all-star cast in the â€œOcean'sâ€ trilogy, and in a cameo role in the second part of the director's two-part biopic â€œChe.â€
Damon's other recent film credits include the drama â€œHereafter,â€ which reunited him with director Clint Eastwood; the action thriller â€œGreen Zone,â€ directed by Paul Greengrass; Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning Best Picture â€œThe Departed,â€ with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg; Robert De Niro's dramatic thriller â€œThe Good Shepherd,â€ with De Niro and Angelina Jolie; and Stephen Gaghan's geopolitical thriller â€œSyriana,â€ with George Clooney.
In addition, for the small screen, Damon both executive produced and appeared in the History Channel project â€œThe People Speak,â€ based on a book co-written by famed historian Howard Zinn and featuring dramatic readings and performances from some of the most famous names in the entertainment industry. Later this year, HBO will air Steven Soderbergh's â€œBehind the Candelabra,â€ a drama about the life of pianist/entertainer Liberace (played by Michael Douglas) in which Damon plays Liberace's longtime partner Scott Thorsen.
Hailing from Boston, Damon attended Harvard University and gained his first acting experience with the American Repertory Theater. He made his feature film debut in â€œMystic Pizza,â€ followed by roles in â€œSchool Ties,â€ Walter Hill's â€œGeronimo: An American Legend,â€ and the cable projects â€œRising Sonâ€ and Tommy Lee Jones' â€œThe Good Old Boys.â€ He first gained attention with his portrayal of a guilt-ridden Gulf War veteran tormented by memories of a battlefield incident in 1996's â€œCourage Under Fire.â€
Together with his lifelong friend Ben Affleck, Damon co-wrote the acclaimed 1997 drama â€œGood Will Hunting,â€ for which they won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award, as well as several critics groups awards for Best Original Screenplay. Damon also garnered Oscar, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nominations for Best Actor. Additionally in 1997, Damon starred as an idealistic young attorney in Francis Ford Coppola's â€œThe Rainmakerâ€ and made a cameo appearance in Kevin Smith's â€œChasing Amy.â€
The following year, Damon played the title role in Steven Spielberg's award-winning World War II drama â€œSaving Private Ryanâ€ and also starred in John Dahl's drama â€œRounders,â€ with Edward Norton. Damon earned his third Golden Globe nomination for his performance in 1999's â€œThe Talented Mr. Ripley,â€ under the direction of Anthony Minghella. He also reunited with Ben Affleck and director Kevin Smith to star in the controversial comedy â€œDogma.â€
Damon's subsequent film credits include starring roles in Robert Redford's â€œThe Legend of Bagger Vanceâ€; Billy Bob Thornton's â€œAll the Pretty Horsesâ€; the Farrelly brothers' comedy â€œStuck on You,â€ opposite Greg Kinnear; Terry Gilliam's â€œThe Brothers Grimm,â€ with Heath Ledger; and a cameo in George Clooney's â€œConfessions of a Dangerous Mind.â€
Damon and Affleck formed the production company LivePlanet to produce film, television and new media projects. LivePlanet produced three Emmy-nominated seasons of â€œProject Greenlight,â€ chronicling the making of independent films by first-time writers and directors. The â€œProject Greenlightâ€ films produced to date are â€œStolen Summer,â€ â€œThe Battle of Shaker Heightsâ€ and â€œFeast.â€ LivePlanet also produced the documentary â€œRunning the Sahara,â€ directed by Oscar winner James Moll.
In addition, Damon co-founded H20 Africa, now known as Water.org, a nonprofit organization that has transformed hundreds of communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America by providing access to safe water and sanitation.
Photo Credit: Sam Jones
Filed Under: Lecture Film