Matt Damon Drums Up Russian Business for 'Elysium' With Sony Skypecast
MOSCOW – Matt Damon took to Skype Thursday night Moscow time to talk up Sony's next summer tentpole, Neill Blomkamp's futuristic sci-fi thriller Elysium, set to be released in Russia on Aug. 8.
Damon fielded questions from Russian and international Skype callers from Los Angeles, with translations shown in a separate window during the 25-minute videocast.
The session had technical issues, including constant background music that was irritating at times.
Dubbing the Skypecast a "unique" experience, the actor spoke of his respect for the director's vision. In the movie, Damon plays a 22nd century Earth-bound factory worker on a mission to break into a luxury spacecraft where the planet's coddled elite live far above the poverty-stricken crowds below.
"I choose my films based on who the director is," he told a caller from a Russian television channel.
"Film really is a director's medium and so much hangs on that. I shall take almost any role if I believe in the director."
Blomkamp's vision of the future was a thoroughly developed one, where he knew everything about the world in which the movie is set, Damon said, adding that after seeing Blomkamp's first feature, District 9, he was very keen to work with the director and was "thrilled that [Elysium] came my way."
Responding to a caller from Chelyabinsk -- the Urals city above which a comet exploded in February -- he praised Blomkamp's total commitment.
"One of the most interesting things I learned watching Neill working is that to make a really good sci-fi movie you need a director who has a complete vision of a world," Damon said. "It reminded me of James Cameron before he made Avatar; ask him any question about that world and he could answer it. As far as he was concerned, it existed."
Blomkamp had the same belief and gave Damon books about the weapon and vehicle systems he had devised for the film.
"If I do sci-fi in the future, it's got to be with one of these visionary directors -- otherwise there's no point in doing it."
In what may be perceived as a nod to Sony's dismal summer blockbuster record, with disappointing performances from After Earth and White House Down, Damon added that although the movie had big themes that he felt "resonated" with issues of importance in the world today, it was not "meant to hit anybody over the head."
"The movie is entertaining; we've made a big summer action movie. But a good movie needs to have some soul, something beneath it, otherwise you are just looking at pretty pictures," he said.