TODAY   |  December 16, 2010

Matt Damon’s ‘True Grit’

The actor chats with Matt Lauer about working with the Coen brothers to film their take on Charles Portis’ novel “True Grit,” saying it’s not a remake of the 1969 classic featuring John Wayne.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> occur.

>>> " true grit " the story of a stubborn young woman 's search for her father's killer was a signature for john wayne , in fact, earned him his own oscar. now the cohen brothers have remade " true grit " starring jeff bridges and matt damon .

>> that's right. i'm a texas ranger .

>> why have you been pursuing jane?

>> he shot and killed a state senator make iner in waco texas.

>> matt damon . good to sigh. they were not interested if you had seen the original from 1969 , they want to knowed if you read the book.

>> yy why was the book more important than the original movie?

>> i am thank's what they found and what john wayne found 40 years ago that it is just a phenomenal book, just wonderful. and the adaptation that joel and ethan did really uses so much of the dialogue that charles portis , the author of the novel, came one with. that was really there listen, not looking that the as a remake, looking a this the going back to the original source material and making our own movie out of it.

>> glen campbell played the character you played it this the texas ranger . looking at the footage here, people aren't familiar with the story it is a western and yes, that means horses. i've always thought that the only thing worse than a baseball movie where the actor looked like he couldn't throw a pitch would be a we were if the actor looks like he is not comfortable on a horse. you are very comfortable.

>> this is the same group that wrangled the movie that i did 11 years ago, so i knew all those guys.

>> so, thisment is from riding in the wilds of boston?

>> right.

>> childhood.

>> i grew up wrangling in boston, we cowboy a lot up there. no it -- well, a few things. one, i mean, aid a lot of experience with movies riding horses and had had the chance to go kind of months early on movies in the past and really work -- work a lot with the horses but also these horses that were on are just so well trained. you really actually -- they are dummy-proof, you can put pretty much --

>> not saying they drugged these horse?

>> the horses think better than the actors. the horses will see a mark, they will run up and stop and actually get them to lean a little bit.

>> what better way to get character of a, we sit in the saddle of a who can't feel like a cowboy then, or a jockey, but that wouldn't work. that would be bad.

>> definitely no the saddles more comfortable than the director's chairs. a lot of times you stay through.

>> you chose to do the movie odd flexible schedule, allowed to live your life , a new baby at home and three other children at home and this gave the flexibility you were looking for?

>> look, it was a role -- it was a great chance to work with the directors that i have been dying to work with and with jeff and with josh brolin and then this incredible actor, 13-year-old girl named haley steinfeld, the center of the movie, so she was this incredible discovery really for all of us in this experience. when they came in with the project the one thing i said was, look, i'm here in new york and my kids are in school. is theremy way you could help with the schedule and make it so i'm not away for long stretches and so they were really nice and accommodating.

>> really nice but that is one of the great perks for your level of success, they are willing to work with you, where other actors might not have that opportunity?

>> if the role is the right size. you are the lead in the movie, can i have three days off a week?

>> you mentioned off new baby.

>> four girls.

>> four kwoung girls at home with you and luciana. you group up with a brother?

>> right.

>> which means one thing, girls have you completely wrapped around their finger.

>> really pathetic.

>> take some getting used to the girls?

>> no, just a total love affair . it is interesting, the way they look at the world and interact with the world is so different from the way boys do like, my brother's boys come over, if we have other friends, they have a play date and a boy comes over, they will just do things to the toys that never would occur to me. just try to kill them, smash them.

>> wait. wait.

>> just a very different experience having these four little girls.

>> i can only imagine what you are like as a dad. in hollywood, off reputation, somewhat stellar. i mean, anyone who has worked with you over the years says you are one of the nicest guys, one of the warmest and most caring people they have ever met. i have had the chance to interview you probably a dozen times. i don't see it i really -- [ laughter ]

>> you have enough layers of publicists and --

>> actually, you didn't want to speak to me today. no, no this suspect me. this is a doppleganger.

>> call you the mayor?

>> i think he calls me a lot of things.

>> because you are so even keel all the time. i think what he says about you.

>> he sees me as a politician. i don't know how to take that.

>> well, your honor, this movie is " true grit " and you are great in everything you to you. and congratulationses on the arrival of the new little girl with.

>> thank you very much. " true grit " opens december 22nd . we are back in a moment with more "today" on nbc.