I’ve long said that the next great story you read from a red carpet will be the first. But the carpet walk—black carpet in this instance—prior to Monday night’s Las Vegas premiere of Jason Bourne at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace did deliver some noteworthy nuggets.
• Matt Damon offered something of substance when fielding my questions about the presidential race. Damon is a supporter of Hillary Clinton who has previously said he is “really frightened” of the prospect of Donald Trump claiming the presidency. “This is not a Republican-Democratic issue. I am genuinely concerned about his temperament.”
On Monday he said, “Right now, we’re looking at the Republicans nominating Trump, and it’s really a binary choice of a person who is very divisive but who the Republicans think they have no choice but to support. I saw a clip from [Speaker of the House] Paul Ryan the other day that it is a binary choice, and that’s why he’s backing Trump (laughs). I would use his exact argument back at him, you know? It works both ways.”
Damon added, “This is a volatile time. People are so divided around politics, and technology in social media, especially, has really pushed us all down our own paths where we really have trouble listening to each other … I am just hoping we can find some rational discourse again, but Trump is not the one who will bring that on.”
Is Damon planning on campaigning for Hilary Clinton? “Yes,” he said. “Definitely.”
• Damon said one of the film’s plot lines, the hacking of the CIA’s computer server, takes a contemporary view of a long-standing concern among U.S. citizens. “It’s the issue of security versus our civil liberties, and there will always be tension between the intelligence apparatus and those of us who want to maintain our privacy,” he said. “They say they can keep us safer if they have more information, which is true. But we will always say, ‘What kind of society have we become if you have all of our information?’ There will be that constant tension.”
• Damon has matured significantly since he debuted in the film series with The Bourne Identity in 2002. He was 30 during the filming of that movie, 45 today. The new film charts Bourne’s history as he searches to fill the gaps of his past, reaching back to that original movie.
“In this movie, when they show pictures of me from the first movie, it jolted me a lot. I realized how many years have really passed,” Damon said. “I’m so much older (laughs), I look at that kid and go, ‘Wow, that was me.’ But I have been making these movies most of my adult life. I’m really proud of them and was really thrilled to come back and play him again.”
Damon became one of the great action stars of this era as a result of the Bourne franchise. “I just have a lot of gratitude with this character,” he said. “Jason Bourne has made my entire career; he’s changed the trajectory of my entire career. I am living my life now, I get to make these movies and I love what I do … a lot of that is because of this character.”
• Two of the film’s co-stars, Julia Stiles and Gregg Henry, have differing memories of their first visits to Las Vegas. Henry’s was 40 years ago. Stiles’ was … Saturday.
First, Henry. He was part of the cast of Rich Man, Poor Man, Book II, the miniseries that aired in 1977. “We came here for six days, I think it was, and I was young and always looking for fun,” said Henry, 24 during that visit. “We stayed at the Flamingo and also the Tropicana, very old-Vegas places, and Jules Irving, the wonderful director and father of Amy Irving, was directing the series. He was a craps player all his life, and I would come in at 2 a.m. and he’d still be playing craps, you know … Jules would be putting in 14-hour days and spend another five at the craps tables. It was just amazing.”
Stiles, meanwhile, had this snap assessment of her brief time in the city: “Well, it’s quite decadent, but I feel there are many layers to it you don’t see,” she said. “The good news is, because I am so busy doing interviews, I don’t have time to gamble.” The all-time Vegas rule, from this carpet and everywhere else: Steer clear of the craps tables and you’ll break even.