When it comes to being rich and famous, Matt Damon is a little conflicted – and maybe in a bit of denial too.
The source of his angst is largely the “rich” part, reports The Straits Times.
The A-list actor and star of the Bourne and Ocean’s franchises is believed to have a net worth of about US$65 million (S$82 million), and this sometimes sits uneasily with his political ideals, which have made him an outspoken advocate for various political and humanitarian causes promoting social equality.
One of the biggest challenges, he says, is trying to ensure that his four daughters – who are aged three to 15 – grow up with the same progressive ideals that he did.
The added irony is that he is worrying about all this while ensconced in the plush suite of a Beverly Hills hotel, where he was recently promoting his new movie Elysium.
The movie by District 9 director Neill Blomkamp, which opens in Singapore tomorrow, imagines a future in which the super rich have abandoned the planet, which is now irretrievably overpopulated, polluted and diseased.
His admission that he puts his children in private schools has attracted criticism from media pundits and politicians such as former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who recently accused Damon of hypocrisy.
But the actor – who stumped for President Barack Obama in 2008 but later criticised him for going back on his campaign promises – has defended what he says was a very difficult decision for his family.
He did it, he has said, to give his children the kind of progressive education that most closely matches the one he had, but which no longer exists in US public schools.
Asked whether he is concerned that his daughters with Argentine-born wife Luciana Barroso, 37, will be raised with the same values, he says: “That’s a really good question. My wife and I talk about it a lot, and we’re convinced that the answer is going to be travel – just taking them to these (less privileged) places and trying as best we can to give them a sense of the world that they live in, and their place in it.”
This was the approach of his mother Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor of early-childhood education who raised Damon in a leftist commune in Boston in the 1970s after she divorced his father.
“She did a really great job with that,” he says of Paige, who once told reporters that she was horrified at seeing her son in glossy magazines “being used to sell products” and as “just a cog in the capitalist system”.
Damon recalls: “Once I was a teen, she started taking me to Mexico and Guatemala, into these rural areas where conditions were pretty rough, and just let me see it and experience it and talk to kids my age there. I think that’s the best chance you have at trying to give a kid a sense of the world they live in.
“Because I can’t take away the fact that they’re privileged,” he says of daughters Isabella, Stella and Gia, and stepdaughter Alexia, from Barroso’s previous marriage.
“And I don’t want to – I’m happy that they don’t want for anything. But I do want them to understand the world that they live in, and how it works, and what their responsibility to it is.”