By Bennett Marcus, Vanity Fair
While writing the script for Promised Land, Matt Damon and John Krasinski were both moonlighting. "I was on the show [The Office] and Matt was in Malibu, actually, shooting We Bought a Zoo," Krasinski explained at the movie's premiere in New York on Tuesday. "So I went to him every weekend--he wins by default because he has four beautiful girls--and we would literally write with children crawling all over him. He was throwing in the Little Mermaid DVD 17 times a day, and making lunch and bath time, so I don't know how we got any work done, but it was really, really fun," Krasinski added.
Damon laughed when VF Daily repeated this anecdote at the after-party at Loi, a Greek restaurant on the Upper West Side. "That's true. It's a miracle we actually got a screenplay, given we were writing in my house, while my kids were there."
He previously won a screenwriting Oscar, back in 1998, for Good Will Hunting, with Ben Affleck. "I just like to write with tall people," Damon quipped.
He says Krasinski's "brain works a lot faster" than his, but otherwise working on the Promised Land script with his pal felt very familiar. "In terms of the actual process of writing, it was exactly like writing with Ben. It was really, you know, two actors in a room jumping around, playing all the different parts, and trying to make each other laugh. And then a script kind of came out of it."
Despite writing only sporadically, Damon has been able to satisfy the screenwriting urge just by working as an actor. "A lot of the problem-solving that goes on in kind of everyday filmmaking involves a little bit of writing, and I was always a part of that creative team, making those decisions, in large part because of Good Will Hunting," he told VF Daily. "So just movies I worked on subsequently, directors were really good about inviting me into that process, you know, with the writers. And I always became close with the people who are writing the movies, and kicking around ideas with those guys."
For his own writing projects, however, he does prefer working with a partner. "I was an English major in college. I remember that feeling of looking at a blank computer screen by myself and going, 'This is horrible!'" Damon said, laughing. "I definitely prefer having someone to go through it with."
Promised Land revolves around the practice of natural-gas drilling, or "fracking," and Krasinski says research materials included The New York Times's "Drilling Down" series, as well as a PBS piece called "Shaleionaires," about people who were, literally, becoming millionaires overnight from fracking on their properties.
"So the issue to us was so incredibly polarizing," Krasinski said. "The drama was really [that] there was so much potentially to gain for these people, and so much potentially to lose, that the decision is so very, very complicated. And that's what we thought was so human and emotional about the story."
Krasinski plays a slick environmental activist in the film, and when we ran into real-life eco-activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the party, he advised using a multi-faceted approach in advocating for ecological issues. "Well, I'm an activist; I do litigation. Some people do legislation, some do education, some do agitation. And some people are doing innovation, you know, they're doing entrepreneurship. So all of those," he said. R.F.K. Jr. got that advice from a master. "You know, Martin Luther King said the principal tools of advocacy were agitation, legislation, litigation, and education," he said.
Also at the premiere were co-star Rosemarie DeWitt, Gus Van Sant, who directed, Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, Carol Kane, and John Cameron Mitchell, who is reenergized after guest-starring on the upcoming season of Girls, his first acting role in 12 years. He plays a "has-been magazine editor from the 90s." "And I loved it. I love Lena Dunham, and I'm so excited about acting again. Because I was so burned out, and now it's fun again," he said. In fact, Cameron Mitchell says he maybe had more fun acting in Girls than in anything else he's done, including Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
He did not have any sex scenes, but there was a lot of improv, and he got to say whatever he wanted. "I got to say 'fuck' a lot. It was awesome," he said, laughing. "HBO," he added.
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