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Matt Damon vs French

April 25, 2013

“What I love about Bourne is…he speaks these languages, like, y’know, a little German, a little French, some Russian, but…he’s not fluent in them. You know what I mean? He’s not fluent.” – Matt Damon

Matt Damon figured he knew a little French. He figured he knew a little German. He knew he didn’t know any Russian, but he figured he could pick it up. Then… In Switzerland, at the embassy, he forgot everything. But it’s okay, said the director. You’re an amnesiac. You’re not supposed to remember this shit. ‘Yeah,’ said Damon. ‘I can half-speak it, like an amnesiac.’ And even though he knew his French was pretty good, or it would be if he sat down for a month and surrounded himself with French people…he pretended that he could only half-speak it. Then… In Berlin, in the second Bourne, he couldn’t remember a fucking word. But it’s okay, he said to the director, he’s not supposed to be fluent, right? And even though he knew his German wasn’t far off the same level as his French, he kept to the role and spoke it broken. Then… In Moscow, the girl whose parents Bourne had killed told him they should switch to English. And that’s okay, he told himself, because Bourne’s not supposed to be good at Russian. And it’s not like I’ve had enough time to really learn it.

“Like, if the character demanded it then…sure, yeah, I could speak fluently, but that’s the thing, it doesn’t. The role doesn’t demand it, and that’s what I’m a slave to. I follow the role, not Matt Damon. Even though my French is actually pretty good.” –Matt Damon [cont.]

Matt Damon took French at high school. He did just enough to get by. No more, no less. In the exams, he could introduce himself. He could understand basic questions. He could have a limited conversation. A year after high school he met a French girl. They talked in American for a while and the girl was pretty fluent, and all the time they talked Damon was thinking of different ways he could crowbar some of his French into the conversation. Finally there was a long enough pause, and he jumped… ‘Que tu…err…que tu faire lajordi…no, fuck, that’s not-…fuck…aujourdhui…ajord-…’

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