Matt Damon is an American actor, producer and screenwriter. He made his screen debut at the age of 18 with a minor role in the 1988 film Mystic Pizza. After appearing in a series of supporting parts in much of the 1990s, Francis Ford Coppola cast Damon as the lead of the 1997 legal drama The Rainmaker. His breakthrough came later that year when he played the title role of an unrecognized genius in Good Will Hunting, a drama which he also co-wrote with Ben Affleck. Damon and Affleck won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and Damon was nominated for Best Actor. He followed it by playing the title roles of a soldier in Steven Spielberg's war drama Saving Private Ryan (1998) and of the criminal Tom Ripley in the thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), both of which gained critical and commercial success. Damon's profile continued to expand in the 2000s, as he took on starring roles in two lucrative film franchises. He featured as a con man in Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Trilogy (2001–07) and played the titular spy Jason Bourne in four of the five films in the Bourne series (2002–16).
Damon co-wrote, co-edited and starred in the drama Gerry in 2002, which polarized film critics. He played an energy analyst in the thriller Syriana in 2005, and the following year, he collaborated with Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese in the acclaimed crime drama The Departed. He portrayed the rugby player Francois Pienaar opposite Morgan Freeman's Nelson Mandela in the sports drama Invictus (2009), which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Damon continued to gain praise for his collaborations with Soderbergh on the crime film The Informant! (2009) and the drama Behind the Candelabra (2013). In the former, he played the whistleblower Mark Whitacre and in the latter, he played Scott Thorson, the disgruntled lover of Liberace, for which he received an Emmy Award nomination. In 2012, Damon and Affleck launched the production company Pearl Street Films. Their first project—the drama Promised Land—which Damon co-wrote and starred with John Krasinski, performed below expectations. His biggest commercial successes in the 2010s came with the western True Grit (2010), and the science fiction films Elysium (2013) and The Martian (2015). In the latter, which earned over $630 million to become his highest-grossing release, Damon played a botanist stranded on Mars, for which he received an Oscar nomination and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
With box office receipts of over $3 billion in North America, Damon ranks among Hollywood's most commercially successful actors. Damon has featured as a guest star in the television shows Will & Grace (2002), Entourage (2009) and 30 Rock (2010–11), among others. A production company he formed in 2000 with Affleck and Sean Bailey, named LivePlanet, produced Project Greenlight (2001–05, 2015), a television series that helps newcomers develop their first film. Damon has served as the executive producer of a number of projects directed by the winners of the show. In addition, he has narrated several documentaries, including The People Speak (2009) and Inside Job (2010).