Matt Damon is known as a talented writer and actor -- but not necessarily known for his advice on dealing with social etiquette problems during the holiday season. But during his visit to TODAY Tuesday, he proved he has hidden talents in a sit-down with Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer and New York Times "Social Qs" columnist Philip Galanes.
"I feel so unqualified to be here," said Damon before they launched into the questions, one of which dealt with what to do if a woman wants to break up with her boyfriend during the holiday season. Damon suggested an immediate breakup so not to drag it out, but Galanes got more specific: Before the 15th of December, yes. Afterward "it starts to get a bit mean."
The married Damon understood. "It happens to me every year -- I'm sweating out December 15. I know my wife's hanging on to me, (and then) I get another year."
Later, dates also turned out to be important when figuring out how to admonish a girlfriend who tended to dip her finger into food to taste it while cooking. "The guy presumably is kissing his girlfriend. I don't see the big deal there," said Damon. "Are you afraid of her saliva?"
"So if you're swapping bodily fluids in another way, it's OK," quipped Lauer.
"It's OK if she takes a bite and uses your fork," said Damon. "If it's not OK, then you might want to reexamine the relationship -- provided that it's before December 15."
Of course, the real reason Damon was on hand was to discuss his new movie, "Promised Land," in which he plays a corporation's rep, sent to a small town to obtain permission to drill for natural gas. It's a "complex issue," he said, so in writing it with "The Office's" John Krasinski (who also stars with Damon), they wanted to ensure they had characters who were equally complex.
"What we wanted with all the characters was for them to all feel real, like people we know," he said. "We didn't want anyone to feel one-dimensional."
Originally, Damon was set to direct, but had to bow out when shooting days for "Elysium" ran too long and he wanted to make sure to spend time with his family before picking up the next project. "So we got that 'hack' Gus Van Sant (to direct)," he said, joking about the director of another film he co-wrote and starred in, "Good Will Hunting." "Best thing I did as a producer of this movie was to fire myself!"
"Promised Land" opens in theaters Dec. 28.