×

Venice: Matt Damon, Hong Chau and Director Alexander Payne Talk ‘Downsizing’

VENICE, Italy — Matt Damon and the cast of Venice Film Festival opener “Downsizing” lavished praise on director Alexander Payne and his producer and co-writer Jim Taylor on Wednesday at the film’s press conference, where Payne said he had consulted with scientists about the human shrinkage aspect of the comedy, which combines sci-fi and social satire.

“Alexander and Jim are so meticulous when they write,” said Damon who noted that when working with Payne, “every shot that he’s making is going to be in the movie, and you can see how he’s going to fit it together like a perfect little puzzle, a Swiss watch.

“Our job is so much easier with a director that’s so sure-handed,” he added, “because you always know where you are; you always know exactly what it is that you need to convey.”

In “Downsizing,” Damon plays a man who agrees to have himself shrunk down in order to live luxuriously in a government resort where he meets a Vietnamese prison escapee played by Hong Chau. Kristen Wiig plays Damon’s wife.

Chau said what she loved most about working with Payne on “Downsizing” is how funny it is. “I hope the humor doesn’t get lost in the bigger story and the heavier issues,” she noted.

The director paid tribute to Italian film industry artistry, praising his Italian production designer Stefania Cella, who works in Italy with Paolo Sorrentino: “She’s a small woman with big hair and big ideas, and she gave me a very large visual canvas to work with: I learned a lot from her.” Payne recounted that in the actual downsizing sequence, “which really allowed her to spread her wings,” the only direction he gave her “was that the downsizing chamber somehow should look like a big microwave oven.”

As for the human shrinkage aspect he did consult with scientists to learn what “would the physics be if you were really that small.” But “we had to decide at what point we would stop caring,” he added. “Really, if you were that small the quality if your voice would change; how you walk would be different. You could survive a fall from a proportionally higher height…You could probably fly a little bit. At a certain point we had to stop caring about that.”

More Film

  • Neve CampbellVariety's Power of Women NY

    Neve Campbell Seeking SAG-AFTRA Board Seat on Matthew Modine Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    Neve Campbell is running for a SAG-AFTRA national board seat as a member of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. Campbell is best known for starring as Sidney Prescott in the “Scream” movies and as LeAnn Harvey in “House of Cards.” Her credits include “Skyscraper,” “Wild Things” and “The Craft.” Election ballots will [...]

  • Themba-Bhebhe

    Durban FilmMart’s Themba Bhebhe on Diversity: ‘We Are At a Crossroads’

    DURBAN–A new thematic strand at this year’s Durban FilmMart, Engage @ DFM, offers a series of think tanks and in-depth discussions concerning diversity and de-colonial approaches to and models for filmmaking. To head up the new initiative, the DFM tapped guest curator Themba Bhebhe, who has led the Diversity & Inclusion initiative at the last two editions of [...]

  • Durban Film Festival 2019 / Copyright

    South African Creatives Grapple Over Copyright Amendment Bill

    DURBAN–The South African government is planning to update its four-decade-old copyright legislation, but what that means for filmmakers was up for debate during a contentious and often heated session at the Durban FilmMart this week. While the Copyright Amendment Bill awaits the signature of President Cyril Ramaphosa, industry stakeholders remain divided over how the proposed [...]

  • 'The Lion King' Ruling Box Office

    'The Lion King' Ruling Box Office With Dazzling Debut at $180 Million

    Disney’s “The Lion King” has jolted the North American box office back to life with an opening weekend in the $180 million range, estimates showed Saturday. “The Lion King” will record the second-best opening of 2019 — and could replace “Incredibles 2,” which launched last year with $182.7 million, as the ninth biggest North American [...]

  • 'Tomb Raider' Star Simon Yam in

    'Tomb Raider' Star Simon Yam in Hospital After Stabbing

    Hugely popular Hong Kong actor, Simon Yam was stabbed while on stage Saturday at a presentation in Zhongshan, Guangdong province in southern China. He is in hospital recovering. The incident happened at the opening of a branch of the Beijing Easyhome building materials company, where Yam was a guest. A man was seen rushing on [...]

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolosnaro attends the

    Bolsonaro Threatens Brazil’s Central Film Fund with Censorship or Closure

    In typical shoot-from-the-hip remarks, Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has declared that Ancine, Brazil’s powerful state-backed federal film agency, should accept “filters”or face closure. “If it can’t have a filter, we’ll close Ancine, or privatize it,” Bolsonaro added, attacking Ancine, which plows some $300 million a year into Brazil’s film and TV industries, for supporting [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content