Oscars: Host Jimmy Kimmel Brings Long-Running Matt Damon Feud to the Stage
The host joked that the 'Manchester by the Sea' producer gave up an "Oscar-caliber" leading role to Casey Affleck to make a "Chinese ponytail movie instead."
Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon brought their long-running feud to the Oscars stage on Sunday night.
Kicking off the ceremony, host Kimmel took several jabs at frenemy Damon in his opening monologue. Kimmel, first commenting on the current political climate and encouraging viewers to have a "positive, considerate conversation" with those they disagree with, then said, "In spirit of healing and coming together, I'd like to bury the hatchet with someone I've had issues with — Matt Damon."
"I've known Matt for a long time now. I've known Matt so long [that] when I first met Matt, I was the fat one," he said, as the camera panned to an unimpressed Damon. "We've had problems — he's a selfish person, those of you who have worked with him know this."
Kimmel went on to say he wanted to commend one selfless thing Damon did this year. "Matt, as you know, could have starred in Manchester by the Sea," he said, "He could have taken that lead actor part for himself, but he didn't."
Kimmel joked, "He handed what turned out to be an Oscar-caliber role over to his friend [Casey Affleck] and made a Chinese ponytail movie instead. And that movie, The Great Wall, went on to lose $80 million. Smooth move, dumbass."
Later in the ceremony, a pre-taped clip of Kimmel offering commentary on Damon's 2011 film We Bought a Zoo as the movie played on screens. The bit was part of a larger segment during the Oscars in which actors praised their favorite Hollywood films.
"The first time I discovered We Bought a Zoo was at a multiplex in Burbank," Kimmel said, seated inside a movie theater. "The theater was completely empty. It was magic. It was like it was just me, Matt and the animals."
As a scene of an emotional Damon showed in the clip, Kimmel noted, "The thing about Matt is, you can see how hard he's working. It's so…effort-full for him. He has almost no discernible talent, but...he works."
After the pre-taped segment aired, an announcer introduced Good Will Hunting co-stars Ben Affleck and Damon, who was referred to as Affleck's "guest," to the stage to present best original screenplay.
"I actually liked that performance in that movie," Damon said, to which Affleck joked, "Really?"
Kimmel continued his revenge against Damon as he commanded an orchestra to play Damon off every time the actor spoke.
"Am I being played off, seriously? I'm just presenting, you can't play me off," Damon argued, before presenting Manchester by the Sea director/writer Kenneth Lonergan with the award.
Kimmel previously told The Hollywood Reporter that his goal for the night was to "keep him offstage." He said about Damon, "I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that he doesn't win or doesn't know that he won."
At the 2016 Emmy Awards, Damon walked onstage to mock host Kimmel after he lost best variety talk series. The actor-producer admitted to Michael Strahan during ABC's preshow that he was worried about Kimmel's possible revenge, "He's talentless himself, but unfortunately he's got an incredible group of writers who work for him."
Kimmel later tweeted a photo of himself watching Damon on ABC, writing, "Dead man walking the red carpet."
Damon also told E!'s Ryan Seacrest that Kimmel's attempts to keep him from entering the venue and off the stage wouldn't work, "I'm a member of the Academy so I think I'm going to be able to definitely make it into the theater. I don't know what he has in store for me; it's going to probably be ugly."
On settling their (friendly) feud, he said, "We've tried a lot of couples therapy and that hasn't seemed to cut through it all. So maybe tonight's our night."
The 89th annual Academy Awards took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday.