8 reasons why Matt Damon is a star worth loving

Image: Matt Damon in "Elysium" TriStar Pictures
Earth is overpopulated and in ruins in "Elysium." Let's follow Matt Damon and get off.

Sarah Silverman may have her own special relationship with Matt Damon, but with "Elysium" opening this weekend, we thought it was time to rattle off some of the reasons we, too, love the actor.

From "Good Will Hunting" to "Saving Private Ryan" to the "Bourne" series and more, Damon, 42, has won us over as a movie star. Off screen, he comes across as the most likable guy this side of Tom Hanks; he's great as a talk show guest and he keeps his private life exactly how we like it — private.

Check out eight reasons why we're rooting for Damon in "Elysium" and in every other step he takes along the way.

We felt smart after 'Good Will Hunting'
The 1997 movie taught us how cool we could be if we wrote a lot of numbers on a chalkboard or referenced Howard Zinn at a party. And Damon gave us one man's take on the National Security Agency way before we'd ever heard of Edward Snowden. (Note: some profanity in clip below.)

He won an Oscar with his buddy from Boston
For a long time you couldn't picture Damon without picturing Ben Affleck, his pal and award-winning writing partner on "Hunting." Look at them in tuxes, like they got lost on the way to prom.

He's a real Boston Red Sox fan
That baseball hat with the red B that started showing up everywhere after the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004 never looks fake on Damon. The bandwagon may have reached capacity to the point of overflowing when the Sox won again in 2007, but Damon in the stands at Fenway Park is a legit photo op.

Image: Matt Damon and wife Luciana Jim Rogash /  file
Matt Damon and his wife Luciana after a Red Sox game at Fenway Park in 2005.

He does the best Matthew McConaughey impression
There's never any star attitude when Damon does his talk show rounds. He even wowed David Letterman and all of us with a spot-on impersonation of fellow actor Matthew McConaughey. The Texas drawl and good-natured ribbing of always-shirtless Mateo was revisited on the "Late Show" here and even got a reaction from McConaughey himself.

He was worth saving in 'Saving Private Ryan'
Tom Hanks led a small squad of men in search of a missing paratrooper in the brutally realistic WWII film set during the Normandy invasion. Damon was that missing soldier — Pvt. James Ryan — and though he's not in much of the movie, we come to appreciate that he was worth the struggle to locate.

'On the bed, on the floor, on a towel by the door ...'
In numerous skits for "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Damon pretends to have a running feud with the late night host. Kimmel started it by ending each show with a fake apology for running out of time for the actor as a guest. Kimmel's girlfriend at the time, Sarah Silverman, helped Damon answer with the classic "I'm F---ing Matt Damon" video.

'Bourne' to be an action hero
As Jason Bourne in "The Bourne Identity," "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum," Damon sets the mark for action-packed thrillers. It's still hard for us to picture the roof-hopping, death-defying super soldier buying a zoo. What?

He took his shirt off to save us
"Elysium" is the just the latest Earth-is-bleak summer action flick, and here Damon plays a year 2154 factory worker who sets out to bust into a space station for the rich. Shaving his head and getting ripped should help him achieve that.

Damon has also been a frequent and friendly visitor to TODAY. Last week he discussed "Elysium" with Matt Lauer and joked how he spends his life trying to "be like Brad Pitt."

Check out a few more of his most recent appearances on TODAY:

Dec. 4, 2012: Damon talks about 'real' role in 'Promised Land'
Dec. 4, 2012: Damon gets quizzed about holiday etiquette
Sept. 7, 2011: Damon's 'Contagion' portrays medical nightmare

And for more Damon highlights, cruise through our slideshow of the actor's life and career.

Matt Damon

Image: Matt Damon
Lefteris Pitarakis

From “Good Will Hunting” to “Green Zone,” the actor and writer mostly has chosen smart, sharp roles.


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