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Matt Damon collaborated with Martin Scorsese on The Departed, which turned out to be one of Damon’s most praised projects. But he felt his Bourne franchise made it easier to do the flick since Scorsese features weren’t known to be blockbusters.

Matt Damon labeled Martin Scorsese films as ‘cut your fee’ kind of movies

Matt Damon posing for a portrait.
Matt Damon | Barry Chin/Getty Images

Damon considered himself extremely fortunate to land the Bourne franchise. It remains one of Damon’s most profitable projects. According to The Numbers, the Bourne films have grossed over $1 billion worldwide. This includes Jeremy Renner’s Bourne Legacy and Damon’s fourth film Jason Bourne.

Damon also appreciated what the Bourne films did for him financially. The money he was able to make from the spy thrillers freed him to do less profitable projects he had a passion for. Scorsese’s The Departed fell into this category.

“The Bourne movies have just changed my career completely and made it possible for me to do all the movies I’ve basically wanted to do,” Damon once told IGN. “And between The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy –– I did two Oceans movies — but I mean, between Supremacy and Ultimatum, the scripts that I read were Syriana, The Departed and The Good Shepherd. They were easily the best scripts I’d read, but none of those movies, on the face, would seem like they’d make a nickel at the box-office.”

Damon felt this was especially true for Scorsese movies. Scorsese may have one of the most beloved film resumes in cinema, but Damon believed that didn’t always translate to box-office success.

“Even The Departed, which went on to do really well; I mean, Marty [Scorcese]’s movies – Goodfellas, Raging Bull — don’t make a lot of money. When they’re released, they’re instantly masterpieces, but they appeal to a smaller number of people. So when you do a film like that, you cut your fee — all three of those movies were ‘cut your fee’ kinds of movies in order to get them made,” he said.

Martin Scorsese recently revealed the studio wanted a ‘Departed’ franchise starring Matt Damon

Scorsese had a little bit of a dispute with the studio while filming The Departed. The filmmaker was only interested in telling a great story with the feature, whereas the executives he worked with wanted a franchise. They pitched either Damon or DiCaprio as the star.

“What they wanted was a franchise. It wasn’t about a moral issue of a person living or dying,” Scorsese recently said in an interview with GQ.

Scorsese recalled showing The Departed to an audience at a screening, and most walking out of the theater pleased by what they saw. The studio executives, however, were disappointed with the film for not setting up the franchise they wanted to produce.

“And then the studio guys walked out and they were very sad, because they just didn’t want that movie. They wanted the franchise. Which means: I can’t work here any more,” Scorsese said.

Wahlberg also pitched a sequel at one point to keep The Departed storygoing. He enlisted the help of the film’s original screenwriter Bill Monahan to pen the idea. But the studio didn’t really seem interested in going forward with the movie.

“Let’s just say the pitch didn’t go very well,” Wahlberg told KFC Radio. “He didn’t really have anything fleshed out, but he’s the kind of guy you just trust to go and write something. And so when we were working on the script for Cocaine Cowboys and American Desperado, [I] said, ‘Bill, just go write.’ They like to have things well thought out and planned.”

Matt Damon felt working with Martin Scorsese was a dream come true


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It was a very easy yes for Damon to star in Scorsese’s 2006 crime thriller. He was sent the script for The Departed, and simply offered the part.

“It’s like the dream of all dreams: Hey, did you hear that Martin Scorsese is directing a movie about Boston? Then I got a copy of the script and loved it and when I came back to New York, I met with Marty. But I think I had already agreed to do it. Most of these things are contingent on a meeting,” Damon once said according to Pop Entertainment.