So were you terrified in this period, where everything was tanking?
Look, I can write. I can’t be any more cold than I was when we did Good Will Hunting. Nobody even knew who I was. So that’s about as cold as you can get. I can always go back and write – and I want to anyway. I never felt, like, terrified.
By career standards, you can’t get lower than starting out. So, no, I wasn’t. But I was very aware, I would say, that things weren’t going swimmingly.
So when Soderbergh rang, it was out of the blue?
I didn’t even know what hotel I was staying in. I was totally focused on reshoots. And it was the last day of reshoots. I was sitting in my hotel room – I was going to catch a flight the next morning. And the phone rang and it was Steven.
We’d shot Ocean’s Eleven, but it hadn’t come out. I hadn’t seen it. We had a great time, a great experience, doing that. But I hadn’t spoken to him.
So does it always work that way with you? You take personal calls from directors, rather than going through agents?
No, no agents. If you don’t know the guy, maybe, but if you’re friends… Like now we’re trying to get $30m to get this Liberace movie. It’s about Liberace and his lover.
And when I went to do Che, Steven called me and says, “Will you do a day on Che? I want you to do this scene in Spanish, even though you’re playing a German guy.”
I was like, “Really?” They were in the south of Spain. I said, “Lucy [Barroso, Damon’s wife] and I are going to be there.” I had some press to do there for The Bourne Ultimatum.
So the studio flew us there and we snuck in because Che was the lower-budget movie. We let Bourne get us to Europe and then I went down.
We got to this little resort where they were staying, in the south of Spain. And I showed up. And Steven is at the bar with Greg Jacobs his AD and producer, waiting for me.
And he pulls out a book, Behind The Candelabra. And there’s a picture of this young blond guy with a big fur coat and next to him there’s Liberace, with all of his rings and a fur coat.
Steven hands me the book and goes, “You. Michael Douglas!” So that’s how you get a job. There are no agents!
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