The September issue of Conde Naste Traveler has a fantastic interview with Matt Damon on his involvement with charitable initiatives, his early childhood growing up in a commune, and using the power of travel to transform people and defeat “ignorance, small-mindedness and fear of otherness”. Here are some highlights:
On celebrity and using its power for good:
“Celebrity is a tricky thing to navigate. There’s no real pretty way to do it. For a lot of actors, our biggest fear is that we’re going to start talking about things we don’t fully understand and sound like idiots,” he says. “In the long run, I’ll do much more good if, when I open my mouth, I have something worth saying.”
On the effects of President Bush’s Malaria Initiative:
“I thought he was going to die right in front of me,” Damon says referring to an African child in his mother’s arms. When he asked if there was something he could do, the child’s doctor said the baby was going to be fine: He had already received life-saving anti-malarial medicine. “Then I realized that because of President Bush’s malaria initiative, this baby had survived,” says Damon, referring to Bush’s 2005 pledge to increase malaria funding by $1.5 billion over five years. “American taxpayer money saved this baby’s life.”
On the future of American support and commitment to helping others:
“We are about to turn a wonderful corner and close this chapter of aggression, where the only American face that people see on foreign soil is the face of a soldier,” Damon says. “As well-meaning as that soldier is, that sends a certain message. But when you go to a country and see your fellow Americans feeding people or getting clean water or saving their lives, you are really seeing the best of us. We are exporting the best of who we are—and who we should be.”
For the rest of the interview, jump on over to Conde Naste Traveler here.