Matt Damon on what the pandemic has taught him

Academy Award-winner Matt Damon, star of the critically-praised new film “Stillwater,” is not afraid to step away from the business for a moment to attend to family business. Damon won’t work this fall so he can get his family settled in New York and his children ready for new schools, he tells correspondent Seth Doane in an interview for  “CBS Sunday Morning,” to be broadcast July 18.

Damon talks with Doane about shooting “Stillwater”; what the COVID-19 pandemic taught him; his past films; how his children view his work; and why he wants to make sure his children are grounded. 

“Look – they’re growing up with a lot more stuff than their mom or I ever had … so we keep an eye on that,” Damon tells Doane, admitting he worries about it.

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Matt Damon, left, with correspondent Seth Doane in Marseille, France, where the actor shot his latest film, “Stillwater.” CBS News

“Yeah, I worry – but, you know, I think when I got to Harvard, I met a lot of kids who are very wealthy …  and some of them were in a lot of pain there. Their parents weren’t there for them, you know, like, at all. And I remember thinking ‘Oh, I get it,’ – like, that money doesn’t solve anything.”

In “Stillwater,” Damon plays an Oklahoma oil rig worker out of his element when he goes to France to free his daughter (played by Abigail Breslin) from prison. Damon and his team got a five-minute long ovation after a screening at the Cannes Film Festival, which brought the actor to tears.

“Man, I – I was just overwhelmed,” he said. “I’ve been watching stuff on my television like everybody else for a year-and-a-half. And to go back into a theater and be reminded that … turning out the lights with hundreds or a thousand, you know, strangers … and taking in something together is really wonderful.”

"Stillwater" Photocall - The 74th Annual Cannes Film Festival
The director and cast of “Stillwater,” during a photocall at the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival: From left, Tom McCarthy, Camille Cottin, Matt Damon, Lilou Siauvaud and Abigail Breslin.  Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Damon also admits he gets choked up more easily these days: “I think I get choked up easier now … ever since I had kids. It’s like, my job has become a lot easier, because I don’t have to try. I don’t have to reach for any emotions …  whether it’s joy or whether it’s pain … it’s all just nearby, because the stakes are so much higher when you have kids.”

The film’s release was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and arrives at a time when the industry is still rebounding.

“Hopefully people will get back in the habit of coming out together and going, so that we can all still have jobs,” Damon says.

“You say ‘hopefully’ – do you worry about that?” Doane asks.

“No, no, no – I think actually that people have been waiting and, at least, anecdotally, people have been waiting and just can’t wait to get back to normal life,” Damon says. “It was a very inhumane way to live – to be disconnected from each other – I really came out of this whole experience realizing how much we need each other – and the connections that we make are – so vital to our lives and what being human is.”

To watch a trailer for “Stillwater” click on the player below: 

STILLWATER – Official Trailer [HD] – In Theaters July 30 by Focus Features on YouTube

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