Matt Damon: Mandela is the greatest political leader of our lifetime


Matt Damon is out there pushing his new movie, Invictus, which I think looks awesome. It’s the true story of Nelson Mandela’s attempt (and success) to use the South African Rugby team’s bid to win the Rugby World Cup to further the cause of racial and political peace. The film is getting wonderful reviews, and Matt is being singled out for his performance as South Africa’s rugby captain Francois Pienaar.

Beyond the politics of the film, Matt has always been known as an activist and advocate for leftie causes – and unlike some celebrities, he defends his positions with a lot of intelligence, and without degrading the political discussion into nastiness and name-calling. Actually, he was kind of mean about Sarah Palin when he was interviewed last year, but as it turns out, he wasn’t even as harsh as many Republicans turned out to be, so whatever. Anyway, Matt was discussing the movie and he dropped this bombshell (not really): he thinks Nelson Mandela is “the greatest political leader in the world in our lifetime.”

No world leader has ever surpassed the accomplishments of former South African President Nelson Mandela. So says actor Matt Damon, who plays rugby team captain Francois Pienaar in Clint Eastwood’s Nelson Mandela film, “Invictus,” which opens nationwide Friday.

“Mandela convinced everybody to not go to war. That involves a lot of personal responsibility,” Damon told Tarts at last week’s Los Angeles premiere. “South Africa had the greatest political leader in the world in our lifetime. Period.”

The film covers the months in 1995 after Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa after decades of white apartheid rule, a time during which the country was close to devolving into civil war.

Damon says that Mandela couldn’t save his country alone, though.

“There was responsibility taken by the citizens as well, that’s a lesson for the rest of the world about how to handle conflict.”

Handling conflict is something Damon, 39, is getting more practice with as his two daughters get older. But Damon couldn’t be happier with his situation.

“It’s so great as any father of girls will tell you,” Damon gushed. “It’s the best.”

[From Fox News]

At first I was like “wait a minute” but the “in our lifetime” thing is important. Matt’s not saying Mandela was the greatest leader ever, he’s saying Mandela was and is the greatest of our lifetime. Which might be and probably is true. I’ll have to think about it some more. Gorbachev? Sure, he would be up there. Aung San Suu Kyi? She makes my list. Ronald Reagan? I’m sure he’s on some people’s lists. Oh, I could do this all day!

In other Matt Damon news, he really, really, really wants Tina Fey to write him a part on 30 Rock. There’s even a rumor going around Entertainment Weekly and Buddy TV that it’s going to happen. Matt totally geeked out about 30 Rock and Tina Fey when asked about it, telling EW (via Buddy TV): “I would do [30 Rock] in a heartbeat if they asked me to come on. I have not been approached about doing it. She should call my people — or even better me. Or I could call her. Let’s make this happen. Tina is a brilliant comedy writer. My wife and I download that show in bulk. That’s actually one of the downsides to working so much this year; I have fallen behind on this season. But we love that show, so if she has a part for me, I’m game.” After Tina got to pretend date Jon Hamm, I’m not sure if I want Liz Lemon to get Matt Damon. But they don’t necessarily have to write him in as a love interest. The sky’s the limit! By the way, how cute was Julianne Moore last night? Her Boston accent was rough at times, but I just love the hell out of her!

By the way, here’s part of Matt’s interview on the Jay Leno show last night. It’s kind of boring, but Matt does tell a funny story about his step-daughter calling him “Matty Fatty”.

Matt Damon at the UNCEIF event on December 10, 2009, in Los Angeles. Credit: WENN. Additional photos of Matt and Lucy, credit: FAME.

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12 Responses to “Matt Damon: Mandela is the greatest political leader of our lifetime”

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  1. Firestarter says:

    Well if he says so, but I tend to disagree.

  2. nikki says:

    it’s his opinions!

  3. nikki says:

    and he has a black eye or he makes up?

  4. Sumodo says:

    “I’m f*cking Matt Damon!” Remember when Sarah Silverman did that? I nearly choked on my $5 Foot Long! Matt Damon is THE MAN! He should be a “regulah” on 30 Rock.

  5. oxa says:

    He forgot about Golda and Gandi.

  6. Cheyenne says:

    I don’t think he “forgot” about Gandhi; he said “in our lifetime” and Gandhi was before he was born.

    I give Mandela all props. If it hadn’t been for his level-headed approach in dismantling apartheid, South Africa might have gone up in flames.

  7. Bobby the K says:


    We forget that people who do a great job and lead dignified lives don’t usually make the news.

    We can never know how much pain and suffering people like he and Desmond Tutu helped heal.
    And how much further tragedy they prevented.

    You don’t hear about ‘peace and reconciliation’ in this part of the world because it is rarely given any thought.

  8. Ben says:

    Desmond Tutu isn’t a politcal leader but out of all those guys who had a part in that period of history (ending aparheid) Tutu is the greatest and the one who betrayed himself the least, he probably one of my greatest heroes.
    Mandela is a great man no doubt but there has been a fair amount of dodgy stuff that taints him a little bit for me (although he probably is the greatest in my lifetime as I haven’t been around too long).

  9. Linda says:

    Sorry, young man, I vote for Obama any day.

  10. Schnauzers!!!! says:

    Obama? You have got to be kidding me. Wait, I’m sure that was a joke.

  11. teehee says:

    …but Beyonce had the best video OF ALL TIME!!!…

  12. Emily says:

    @Linda, really? I like Obama, but he’s been in office for only one year, what’s he done that compares to ending apartheid? Anyway, I vote for Paul Keating, he always had the funniest, most creative insults. Since politics pretty much bores the shit out of me, I’m going for the biggest bitch.