Matt Damon, John Krasinski collaborate on script, characters of 'Promised Land'

Matt Damon finds a new writing partner and co-star in John Krasinski for “Promised Land.”
BY GENE TRIPLETT etriplett@opubco.com Published: January 2, 2013
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“And so that was really awesome to meet him,” Krasinski said, “and one day we were on a double date and he said, ‘I'm actually thinking of directing. Is there anything that you have in the works that you'd be willing to share with me?' And I said, ‘Yeah,'” Krasinski recalled. “I brought him this idea, and he jumped onto it right away and we were writing within a week or two. And it worked really, really well.

“We wanted this to be an uplifting kind of Frank Capra/Kazan movie, and so where we were headed was always the same, so getting there was a lot quicker,” Krasinski added.

Another writing partner

Working with Krasinski reminded Damon of the fun he'd had working with fellow Massachusetts actor-writer-friend Ben Affleck on “Good Will Hunting,” which won Damon and Affleck an Oscar back in 1998 for best original screenplay.

“Writing with Ben, I can't look at the screenplay and know, ‘Oh, I wrote that line or he wrote that line,'” Damon said. “It becomes a fusion where you're both writing and revising together. I saw a documentary last year about U2, and Bono was talking about writing music. He talked about, because the band writes together, you know, it was like a song comes into the room, is how he described it, which is really cool. I've never heard anybody describe it that way. ‘Our allegiance is to the music, not to the musicians. To us the musicians are very low, and the song, that's everything. And we understand it. We respect it when it comes into the room. We can feel it when it comes into the room.'

“It's like it's already a living thing, and I thought that was a really neat way to put it. And it feels that way when you're making progress on a screenplay or a scene works or a moment happens. And it just comes out of the process. I couldn't have written this without (Krasinski) and he couldn't have written this without me, and that's what's great about having a writing partner like that. Something really wonderful comes out of the collaboration.”

Damon's only regret on this project is that he wasn't able to direct, as he had planned, because his schedule demands wouldn't allow it. But there are no regrets about the choice of Gus Van Sant as his replacement at the helm.

“He's such a humanist,” Damon said. “Gus just has a way of putting everybody at ease and just filming the real world. And that's what we really want, for this to feel like a moment in time in the country, where we are now, where we are today, and Hal's (Holbrook's) character speaks to where we've come from. And it's about where we are now and where we're headed. And so Gus was really perfect for that because the characters all needed to feel like people we know in real life.

“I've thought a lot about — before I had kids — what kind of world we're leaving. It gave me pause, 'cause kids don't ask to be here. We bring 'em here and then say, ‘Hey, this is the fix you're in. Sorry.' So I did think about that.

“But ultimately, you know, problems get fixed when people engage with them, and so I figured why not raise some kids who are smart and conscientious and good citizens and wanna pitch in. And maybe they'll clean up some of these problems.”

Travel and accommodations provided by Focus Features.

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We worked really well together, we worked really fast. We have similar sensibilities and similar senses of humor, but at the end of the day I think we're both eternal optimists, so we wanted the same thing.”

John Krasinski,
On writing the screenplay for “Promised Land” with Matt Damon

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