Matt Damon is best known for his action hero and dramatic roles. As Jason Bourne, he modernized the genre for the twenty-first century; in Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan, The Departed, Invictus and many other films, he showed off his serious acting talent.
But Damon also has an underrated funnyman side, which is on full display in Downsizing, the new film directed by Alexander Payne and costarring Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, Neil Patrick Harris and Laura Dern. Damon plays Paul Safranek, a guy who is shrunk to five inches as part of a worldwide effort to combat overpopulation; he expects his wife (Wiig) to join him in a miniature community, only to be abandoned at the last minute.
Here are Damon's best roles in previous comedic movies:
Loki — 'Dogma'
This 1999 Kevin Smith classic featured Damon and Ben Affleck as a pair of banished angels who want to get back into heaven. Damon's character, however, is the less wicked of the two, backing down when he realizes their plan will destroy all of creation.
Himself — 'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back'
Damon and Affleck cameoed together in Smith’s next film, playing themselves — well, a vapid and greedy version of themselves — as they make a ridiculous sequel to Good Will Hunting for "the paycheck." It's a quick scene, but one of the movie's most memorable.
Linus Caldwell — 'Ocean's Eleven' Franchise
The Ocean’s movies have so many A-listers it's tough to keep track of 'em all, but Matt Damon stands out as one of Danny Ocean’s junior conmen. He plays the son of a legendary criminal, and living in that shadow has given him perhaps too much ambition. He'll reprise to role in 2018's Ocean’s 8, which shifts the focus to an all-female crew led by Sandra Bullock as Danny’s sister.
Donny — 'EuroTrip'
Damon briefly cameos in this raunchy 2004 comedy as a singer who's sleeping with the main character's girlfriend, and his appearance steals the show. The vulgar and hilarious song "Scotty Doesn't Know" is a genuine '00s pop-punk classic, even though Damon didn't actually sing it himself (that’d be the band Lustra).
Mark Whitacre — 'The Informant!'
Damon usually plays guys who are calm, cool and collected, but he went in the opposite direction for this 2009 Steven Soderbergh corporate crime comedy. He portrays a price-fixing whistleblower who isn't exactly a dependable asset for the FBI, jeopardizing the sting over and over. The Informant! isn't one of Damon’s best-known movies, but it's definitely worth checking out.
Mark Watney — 'The Martian'
The Martian is a terrific film but not easily categorized; it's brainy science-fiction, a "man against nature" story, a workplace drama, and — thanks to Damon's smart-ass dialogue as stranded astronaut Mark Watney — a comedy all at the same time. Despite the dire odds of leaving the red planet alive, Watney projects a lighthearted and fun spirit, which makes us root for him even more.
Loki Actor — 'Thor: Ragnarok'
Damon’s unannounced cameo in the most recent Marvel Cinematic Universe movie — as an Asgardian actor performing as Loki for Loki, who's still disguised as Odin — took everyone by surprise. The appearance, which came near the beginning of Ragnarok, signaled that this film would be more comedic and unpredictable than anything we'd seen in the MCU yet.
Bonus: Himself — 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!'
Undoubtedly, Matt Damon's greatest comedic character is Matt Damon, Jimmy Kimmel’s arch-nemesis. Whenever Damon shows up on ABC’s Live! to troll Kimmel, the clip always goes viral. (Okay, so this isn't technically a movie, but why can't Hollywood put 'em in one together?)
Downsizing hits theaters on December 22nd.