We are next going to see him make fiction out of fact in Green Zone, he might yet pick up an Oscar for playing a real-life figure in Invictus (well, he might if Christoph Waltz' name magically vanishes from the Academy voting slips), and Matt Damon has another couple of fact-based projects brewing, including one that will see him cast as Bobby Kennedy.
The word from Deadline Hollywood is that a fresh biopic of Democrat Senator and presidential candidate Kennedy is in the works, with Damon attached in the lead role. The film will take its cue from the 2000-published biography, His Life, penned by Time and Newsweek journalist Evan Thomas, which chronicles how RFK began forging his own political identity in the wake of his brother John's murder, only to lose his own life to an assassin's bullet in June 1968 as he campaigned for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Now, even apart from the tragedy of the two brothers' killings, there seems plenty of scope for drama within the proposed movie - from Kennedy's bust-up with Lyndon Johnson over Vietnam, to his support for the civil rights movement, to his clashes with Teamsters Union boss Jimmy Hoffa during his time as Attorney General (could Nicholson be tempted to reprise his Hoffa title performance?). Plus it is set in the '60s so all your movie jukebox favourites can be deployed to fill out the soundtrack. Whoever holds the rights to the Hendrix version of All Along the Watchtower is probably rubbing their hands as we speak. Not in anticipation, just because they've got paper cuts from all the crisp bills pressed into their mitts by imagination impoverished movie bods.
Gary Ross, the man behind Pleasantville and Seabiscuit, as well as one of the writers embroiled in the saga of the Spider-Man 4 that never was, is the man set to issue directorial diktats in the direction of Damon's RFK, while the script is being penned by Steve Knight, the British screenwriter of Eastern Promises and co-creator of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire television quiz show. Knight has another big job on the slate at the moment too, with Columbia having engaged his services to adapt Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol for the big screen. The book - for those who have had their eyes tightly closed and their fingers rammed in their ears in the hope that if they ignore Mr. Brown and his books they will simply vanish into the ether - is the latest trillion-selling piece of arcane twaddle to feature Da Vinci Code piss-bag Robert Langdon, and yes, it is expected that Tom Hanks will be returning in that role for the film version. And do you know what? Potsie might even be back in the director's chair too. Oh joy unconfined. Somehow the two Ron Howard-directed Langdon movies to date have taken over $1.2b at the global box-office, which is the kind of statistic that should make each and every one of us feel a little worse about ourselves and our species on this cold February day. The suggestion is that Knight's sudden status as a studio go-to guy is down to his script for Pawn Sacrifice, which is another Columbia project, and indeed another fact-based project; this time about troubled chess champion Bobby Fischer, and in particular his 1972 World Chess Championship victory over Soviet Union incumbent Boris Spassky. Tobey Maguire is due to produce, and also apparently fancies the role of Fischer for himself.
But who cares about Maguire? That guy is so 2002. Or at best 2004. Damon is the movie man of today. He is next due to hit multiplexes with Green Zone, for which he has reunited with his Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass. The film has been a long time coming, with its budgetary problems being well-documented, and the trailer makes it seem as if it is trying to fashion a very straight-up action movie out of the factual source material provided by Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book Imperial Life in the Emerald City – something which seems a bit lame and a bit childish now that The Hurt Locker has raised the bar so dramatically for Iraq War films. Still the breathless, action-centric clips might just be Universal shamelessly trying to hook in the Bourne crowd, and the actual movie could yet deliver when we finally get a chance to see it from 12 March.
Damon and Greengrass clearly have a conducive relationship both on and off set, with them not only teaming up on three of the director's last four pictures, but also being spotted together at the Chelsea vs. Arsenal football match at Stamford Bridge a couple of weeks back. And sports, friends, and movie-making seem to be the three tent poles of another possible future Damon project, as he is rumoured to be linking again with his old mucker Ben Affleck for '70s-set baseball movie The Trade.
This story really commenced with a piece from The Hollywood Reporter suggesting that Damon and Affleck were set to sign a first-look production deal at Warner Bros. The pair have of course been friends since childhood, and were simultaneously propelled to stardom by the Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting, before going on to co-star in the likes of Kevin Smith's Dogma. However while Damon has broken out as a seriously bankable box-office draw in the last few years, Affleck's star has waned somewhat. Yet there have been recent signs that Affleck has been adjudged to have served his time and is ready to be critically rehabilitated, with him drawing enthusiastic notices for his performance in Hollywoodland and also for his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone.
And the project which is mooted as offering possible route to an Affleck-Damon on-screen re-team is also one for which the Daredevil star is poised to again settle his Lynx-scented backside into the canvas chair of directorial power. Deadline Hollywood squirrelled up the details for this one again, suggesting that Affleck was attached to helm The Trade, which has been gestating over at Warners. The script has been written by Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm man David Mandel, and is based on a real-life sex scandal involving New York Yankees players Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich. In the words of DH:
'Teammates Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich stunned the country when they disclosed in spring training 1973 that they were trading wives. Peterson had fallen in love with Susanne Kekich and his teammate fell in love with Marilyn Peterson.'
John Terry and Wayne Bridge eat your heart out. Affleck is apparently working on a new draft with Mandel, and he and Damon are hot tips for the roles of Peterson and Kekich respectively. It is not all extra history lessons for Damon though, as he will also be cropping up in virus thriller Contagion, directed by his old buddy Steven Soderbergh, as well as filling out the cast of the Coen Brothers' new version of True Grit, due for US release on Christmas Day this year.