Matt Damon Talks What Actors Actually Know About Being On The Celebrity A-List

Still of Matt Damon in The Last Duel
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Hollywood is a strange, bizarre place. In a lot of ways it feels like it’s some alternate reality that the rest of us don’t really live in. Although, to be fair, it often seems like it feels that way even for the people who are a part of it, as even Matt Damon admits he doesn’t really understand how some aspects of Hollywood work either. 

The movie business is strange because it’s this weird combination of art and commerce. Movies are art and as creative endeavors one never knows for sure which films audiences will love and which they will not. At the same time, the financial aspect cannot be ignored. These things cost money, and they need to make money for the studios to be able to continue making more movies. 

The process of simply deciding what movies to even make often seems like black magic. Tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars are spent to make every movie without any real idea whether that money will come back. Studios do whatever they can to try to manage that risk, and that usually includes getting “A-list talent” to star in a movie, but what does that actually mean? Appearing on First we Feast, Matt Damon says that there really does appear to be a real list that studios work from, though there’s no way to really know who’s on it. Damon explains... 

They try to mitigate the risk by putting someone who’s bankable - quote unquote- in. What’s kind of inside baseball a little bit is they have a list from what I understand, I dunno that it’s like they meet like the heads of the five families, like The Godfather, and talk about it, or there’s some secret list, but it does seem. Like you don’t know if you’re on the list or not, you just know kind of based on how many offers you’re getting, like ‘Oh, I don’t think I’m on the list right now.’ And I think it’s like the Premiere League, you get relegated and you get promoted, and you kind of go back and forth, but it does seem if you’re on the list in one place you’re on the list in all five.

We certainly see this play out from the outside. When an actor is in a movie that’s a huge hit, we often start to see them appear in a lot more movies, with bigger profiles. If audiences responded to the actor once, they likely will again, so getting them in your movie will probably help its chances, at the very least, it doesn’t hurt.

But, of course, you never really know just what the studios think of you. The Stillwater star says things can fluctuate, and the only way to tell is by the number of offers you receive. As somebody who’s been playing this game for a while, Damon probably understands better than most. He certainly implies there have been times that his phone has not rung as often, indicating he was not “on the list.”

We have no idea how “the list” really works. Matt Damon says that it seems that if one studio thinks you’re on it, the others seem to as well. At the same time, it seems unlikely that the studios actually work together on this, though it’s likely that they use similar metrics to determine who is “bankable” and who is not. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.