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.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Image: Matt Damon

    Matt Damon

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

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    Going to the Globes -

    Matt Damon arrives at the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2014.

    Jordan Strauss / AP
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    "The Monuments Men" -

    This undated publicity photo provided by Sony Pictures Publicity shows actors Matt Damon and Kate Blanchett in a scene from the Columbia Pictures film "The Monuments Men." Damon portrays James Rorimer who was one of a group of men tasked with saving works of art during World War II.

    Claudette Barius / AP
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    Furry friend -

    Matt Damon appears on Univision's Despierta America to promote his new film Elysium at Univision Headquarters in Miami on July 29.

    Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images
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    He'll take your questions now -

    Actor Matt Damon attends an "An Evening with Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon and Gus Van Sant" at The Times Center in New York on Nov. 27, 2012.

    Brad Barket / Getty Images
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    Independent streak -

    Damon attends the IFP's 22nd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani Wall Street in New York on Nov. 26, 2012.

    Theo Wargo / Getty Images for IFP
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    Back to the future -

    Damon speaks on a panel for the futuristic thriller "Elysium" during Comic-Con International 2012 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 13, 2012.

    Kevin Winter / Getty Images
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    Front row for fashion -

    Damon and wife Luciana Barroso attend the Naeem Khan Fall 2012 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Theatre at Lincoln Center in New York on Feb. 14, 2012.

    Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images
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    Who let them out? -

    Damon and actress Scarlett Johansson attend the "We Bought a Zoo" premiere at Ziegfeld Theater in New York on Dec. 12, 2011.

    Joe Corrigan / Getty Images
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    Hello, kitty -

    Damon gets up close and personal with one of his new four-legged neighbors in the December 2011film "We Bought A Zoo." Damon stars with Scarlett Johansson in the film directed by Cameron Crowe.

    20th Century Fox
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    Hair today, gone tomorrow -

    Damon shaved his head for a role in an upcoming film, "Elysium," a futuristic film set on another planet. The film was written and directed by "District 9's" Neill Blomkamp and is due out in 2013.

    Claudio Onorati / EPA
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    Catchy role -

    Damon's wife (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) turns out to be Patient Zero in a pandemic that changes the world in 2011's "Contagion."

    Claudette Barius / Warner Bros.
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    'The Adjustment Bureau' -

    Damon plays a man whose life is managed by men in tailored suits and fedoras, including John Slattery, left, who make sure everyone and everything follows a predetermined plan.

    Andrew Schwartz / Universal Pictures via AP
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    'True Grit' -

    Damon stars as LeBeouf, a Texas Ranger, opposite Hailee Steinfeld in the Coen brothers remake of "True Grit."

    Paramount Pictures
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    'Hereafter' -

    In the Clint Eastwood-directed film, Damon stars as George, a blue-collar American who has a special connection to the afterlife.

    Ken Regan / Warner Bros. Pictures
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    Paying up -

    Damon wears a New Orleans Saints jersey, the result of a lost Super Bowl bet to "The Hurt Locker" star Anthony Mackie, during a visit to "Late Show with David Letterman" on Friday, March 5, 2010.

    John P. Filo / CBS via AP
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    Not easy being 'Green' -

    Damon stars in 2010's "Green Zone," a film set in the chaotic early days of the Iraq War, when no one could be trusted and every decision could detonate unforeseen consequences.

    Universal Pictures
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    Happy couple -

    Damon married Luciana Barroso in 2005. They have two daughters together, and Damon is stepfather to her daughter from an earlier marriage.

    Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images
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    A real kick -

    In 2009's "Invictus," Damon plays Francois Pienaar, the captain of the 1995 South African rugby team. The team's fortunes blend with the hope surrounding new South African president Nelson Mandela.

    Warner Bros.
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    Speaking from the chair -

    In 2009's dark comedy, "The Informant," Damon plays Mark Whitacre in a film telling the true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in U.S. history.

    Warner Bros
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    Hail to the chief -

    Damon shakes hands with former president Bill Clinton at a 2009 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. The meeting brings together leaders to discuss global issues such as climate change and peace in the Middle East. Damon is the co-founder of Water.org, and has announced a commitment to bring safe drinking water and sanitation to a minimum of 50,000 people in Haiti over the next three years.

    Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images
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    'Bourne' to be wild -

    In 2007, Damon reprised his role as spy Jason Bourne in "The Bourne Ultimatum," sequel to two previous Bourne films. The movie was the only Bourne film to be nominated for any Academy Awards, winning best film editing, best sound, and best sound editing.

    Universal Pictures
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    Brothers on bikes -

    Damon and his brother Kyle take part in the 2009 Cape Argus Cycling Tour in Cape Town, South Africa. Matt Damon rode the 109 km (67 mile) cycle tour for charity while shooting "Invictus" in South Africa.

    Gallo Images / Getty Images
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    Just one of the guys -

    Comedian Jack Black presented Damon with an award at Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards in 2008. Damon was named Guy of the Year and was also honored for his role in "The Bourne Ultimatum."

    Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic
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    Seeing stars -

    Damon displays his plaque as he is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.

    Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images
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    Lucky 13 -

    Damon joined the modern Rat Pack, led by George Clooney, for 2007's "Ocean's Thirteen," the third in the line of "Ocean's" movies.

    Warner Bros.
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    The ABCs of the CIA -

    In 2006's "The Good Shepherd," Damon played Edward Wilson, a character loosely based on two real men who helped start counterintelligence in the early days of the CIA.

    Universal Pictures
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    Dearly 'Departed' -

    Damon teamed up with Jack Nicholson and director Martin Scorsese in 2006's "The Departed," which won best picture and best director at the 2007 Oscars.

    - / Warner Bros
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    The politics of oil -

    Damon, Amanda Peet and George Clooney attend the 2005 premiere of "Syriana" in New York. Damon played an energy analyst, Peet played his wife, and Clooney a CIA operative.

    Evan Agostini / Getty Images
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    Once upon a time -

    Damon and Heath Ledger play "The Brothers Grimm," the fairy-tale storytellers, who in the 2005 film are traveling as con artists in early 19th-century Germany.

    Miramax Films
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    He ain't heavy, he's my brother -

    In a departure from his usual serious roles, Damon joined comedian Greg Kinnear to play conjoined twins in the 2003 Farrelly Brothers comedy "Stuck on You."

    20th Century Fox
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    Time to be 'Bourne' -

    Damon first appeared as spy Jason Bourne in 2002's "The Bourne Identity," based on Robert Ludlum's best-selling novel. Franka Potente co-starred.

    Universal Pictures
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    Give it the 'Greenlight' -

    Actor Ben Affleck and Damon attend the premiere of "Project Greenlight" in 2001 in New York. "Project Greenlight" was a contest and television show created by Affleck and Damon that gave aspiring writers and directors a chance to fulfill their own dreams, selecting one winning film and then following it through production.

    George De Sota / Getty Images
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    The new Rat Pack? -

    The original "Ocean's Eleven," made in 1960, starred Rat Packers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and others. The new "Eleven," released in 2001, cast, from left, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Damon, Elliott Gould and Don Cheadle.

    Warner Bros.
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    Don't forget Winona -

    Actress Winona Ryder and Damon, seen here at the 2000 Golden Globes, dated for two years. Damon and Ryder maintained a low-profile relationship -- by Hollywood standards, anyway -- and were seldom seen together out on the town.

    Kevin Mazur / WireImage
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    Howdy -

    Damon plays John Grady Cole in 2000's "All the Pretty Horses" about a young Texas cowboy who leaves home for Mexico, where he falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy landowner.

    Getty Images / Miramax Films
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    Fore! -

    Will Smith co-starred with Damon in 2000's "Legend of Bagger Vance," a film which has since been criticized for being racially insensitive.

    DreamWorks
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    Fallen angels -

    Damon and Affleck star as two fallen angels in Kevin Smith's 1999 comedy, "Dogma." The film's caustic views on religion led to protests and controversy.

    Lions Gate Films/Everett Collection
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    Fighting his way home -

    Damon played the title role in 1998's "Saving Private Ryan," but it's Tom Hanks most viewers remember. Hanks leads a group of servicemen who try to find Damon's Pvt. Ryan and return him home after it's learned that his three brothers have all died in battle.

    Rex Features via Everett Collection
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    'Hunting' for stardom -

    Damon first drew major attention for his role as prodigy Will Hunting in 1997's "Good Will Hunting." Robin Williams plays the only person who can finally break past Hunting's defenses. Damon not only starred in the film, he co-wrote it with childhood pal Ben Affleck.

    Miramax Films
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    They can write, too -

    Damon and Affleck hold the Oscars they won for best original screenplay for "Good Will Hunting" at the 1998 Academy Awards. Damon was also nominated for best actor for the film.

    Hal Garb / AFP - Getty Images
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    Mother's Day -

    Affleck and Damon escorted their mothers, Chris and Nancy, to the Oscars in 1998. The proud moms were able to see their sons claim the best screenplay statuettes.

    Vince Bucci / AFP - Getty Images
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    'Good Will' dating -

    Damon met actress Minnie Driver while filming "Good Will Hunting," and the couple dated for two years.

    Steve Granitz / WireImage
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