“There’s not a better backdrop to explore what happens when big money and regular people collide and how we make our decisions and what is community now and how are we going to live basically and stewardship and short-term thinking vs. long-term thinking,” Damon said in one enthusiastic run-on spurt before taking a breath. “I hope we made a pro-community, pro-democracy movie and people walk away with some sense of hope and it starts a discussion.”
The discussion between Damon and Krasinski is at a pretty high intellectual level, and includes a “60 Minutes” feature on fracking, The New York Times series “Drilling Down,” the book “The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity” by Jeffrey D. Sachs, and the Boss. As it turns out, “Promised Land” mimics the arc of Bruce Springsteen’s latest album, “Wrecking Ball,” according to Damon, who starts backtracking the moment the words come out of his mouth: “We went to a concert before we started shooting and we were listening to him play this album all the way through and we were like, ‘Oh my god, that’s the script we just wrote — not to compare ourselves to Bruce Springsteen by any means.”
From there, discussion goes to the characters they play in the movie, and how out of character their roles are. There’s a plot twist not to give away, but it’s enough to say Damon’s flannel-wearing-to-fit-in Butler isn’t necessarily as cynical as he would seem to be after watching his own farm town wither when the local tractor plant closed. And Krasinski’s Noble might just have something up his aw-shucks sleeve.
In real life, though, they’re pretty much as expected.
Damon, stocky in rumpled jeans and a plaid shirt, beams when the subject of his wife, Lucy, and their four daughters comes up. When Krasinski says, “He’s got the best girls in the world,” Damon doesn’t feign modesty.
“It is high praise,” Damon said. “It’s also true.” He also claimed the paparazzi ignore his family in favor of Affleck’s because that’s a two movie-star couple to his one, since Affleck married actress Jennifer Garner and he married an Argentine former bartender he met in Miami. When the idea that the Affleck clan is courting attention as part of his childhood friend’s Oscar campaign for “Argo”comes up, Damon looks pained and says only, “Right, right.”
“I live on Ben’s street and they’re out in front of there because there are two of them, Ben and Jen, and people want to know, for whatever reason, what Jennifer dresses the kids in,” Damon said. “This was during the summer and they could have stopped by my house if they wanted to. There’s not a lot of sizzle to our story.”
There are however, lots of movies. Damon has three in the can, including “Behind the Candelabra,” in which he plays the gay lover of Michael Douglas’s Liberace, complete with kissing and nudity. Next up, he said, is “The Monuments Men,” a thriller about retrieving stolen art from Nazi Germany that his pal George Clooney is directing and starring in, along with Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, and Cate Blanchett.
For his part, the 6-foot-3 Krasinski shows up in a preppy navy cardigan, bright blue patterned shirt, striped tie, and khaki slacks. He oozes easygoing to Damon’s more intense gum chewing. He’s filming “The Office” until the end of March, and is waiting on what he tackles after.
“Luckily I just have time to focus on that because coming to the end of that show is going to be an emotional breakdown that I’m going to need a little second to navigate through,” he said.
Once that’s done, would they write together again? “If he’d have me,” Damon said, smirking only slightly. Said Krasinski, with no smirk at all, “I was going to say the same thing. . . . It seems like an almost sure-fire bet to have a good time again.”
Lynda Gorov can be reached at email@example.com.