At this point, the words “Matt Damon” and “press tour” should send a slight shiver down your spine, given the actor’s many and well-covered public blunders as of late.
Weeks after the debacle where Damon said his daughter had only recently educated him about not using a homophobic slur, the Oscar winner has somewhat surprisingly agreed to participate in another interview ahead of the release of his new film, “The Last Duel,” in which he co-stars alongside Ben Affleck.
Since movies ― even ones with hilariously terrible wigs ― don’t promote themselves, Damon opened up in a wide-ranging GQ profile, published Wednesday, about practically everything except his most recent controversy, which he declined to further address. Readers did, however, glean a few personal and previously unknown tidbits about Damon, including the meaning behind his tattoos and how he operates a “very private Instagram account.”
In the profile, Damon revealed that the “strange loopy line” on his upper right arm is the same ink that Heath Ledger, who starred alongside Damon in the 2005 fantasy film “The Brothers Grimm,” once had on his own shoulder.
When he decided to get his first tattoo, Damon said he reached out to a friend “who did all of Heath Ledger’s tattoos,” and zeroed in on the symbol.
“That’s something that Heath had on his arm,” Damon explained. “Heath was an incredibly restless, creative person. Like, I talked to the person who did his hair on ‘The Patriot’ and she said he hated sitting still so much ‘that by the time I got the wig on and I set it and everything, and I’d finished, he’d get up and there would be a sculpture of bobby pins that he’d done.’ He was really sensitive. This stuff just flowed out of him. He was really special.”
“I just wanted to get something that Heath had,” he continued. “Scott [the tattoo artist] showed me his laptop and I said, ‘Scott, what’s that one?’ And he goes ‘I have no idea ― I think that’s just some shit that Heath squiggled.’ And I went, ‘That’s the one I want.’”
Years later, Damon added the names of his four daughters written in fine-line cursive alongside the Ledger-inspired tattoo, which his wife, Luciana Barroso, also got inked on her foot.
“So we both have that,” Damon said. “It’s like a little creative little blessing. It’s like an angel that looks over all these names that are on the arm.”
Damon has spoken before about his attachment to Ledger, who died in 2008 of an accidental prescription drug overdose. He told GQ in 2016 that Ledger was “too bright for this world” and that his death was “just fucking pointless.”
“There were things that he did where I couldn’t have got there in three lifetimes. And there were ways in which he was like a puppy dog,” Damon said at the time. “You wanted to protect him.”
Elsewhere in the new GQ interview, Damon addresses the various waves of backlash he’s received in recent years, saying that people’s criticism of his comments “makes me hopefully more aware.”
“It’s hard to take punches for things... the person that they were saying, ‘He’s tone-deaf, and he’s...’ you know, I don’t like that guy either,” he said. “So it’s hard to hear those things about yourself.”
That’s why Damon has largely stayed off social media ― though he did admit to having a secret Instagram account (“I have 76 followers and I’ve done 40 posts since 2013”), in case any internet sleuths have some extra time on their hands.
“I just never saw the point,” he said of social media. “And I feel better and better about that decision as time goes on. I understand wanting to be connected to everybody on Facebook, but my life is so full and I’m connected, really, to everybody I need to be connected to. And then Twitter, I just reflexively didn’t believe that my first knee-jerk response to something was necessarily something that should go all over the world.”