Entertainment Tonight (ET Online)
World Series of Poker: Matt Damon & Ed Norton
May 12, 1998.
When the world's greatest poker players convene in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the 29th annual World Series of Poker, they'll be joined in competition by two young upstarts -- recent Academy Award® winner MATT DAMON ('Good Will Hunting', 'The Rainmaker') and EDWARD NORTON ('The People vs. Larry Flynt') who are also the stars of Miramax Films' upcoming card-playing drama 'Rounders.'
After mastering the art of poker in preparation for the 'Rounders' roles, Damon and Norton accepted an invitation to compete in a prestigious poker tournament in Las Vegas for a purse of $1 million. Set against the backdrop of New York's high-stakes underground poker world, 'Rounders' is the tale of Mike McDermott (Damon), a master card player who trades the poker-playing rounds for law school and a shot at a new life with his girlfriend Jo (GRETCHEN MOL, 'Last Time I Committed Suicide,'). For Mike, the new life he's staking out seems like a legitimate road to success, but it's short on the thrills and excitement of backroom poker games. But when Mike's longtime friend Worm (Norton) is released from prison, Mike is faced with the high-stakes dilemma of his life: to keep on the straight and narrow, or deal himself back into the world of the rounders for the sake of his friend.
'Rounders' also stars JOHN MALKOVICH, JOHN TURTURRO, FAMKE JANSSEN and MARTIN LANDAU. The film is scheduled to open this September.
Matt Damon & Ed Norton Interview
ET: When you're tossing down these $100 chips do you go, 'Wow, I used to work a week for that.' Do you feel like you're dealing with a lot of money out there? That's a lot of money out there. Does that shock you at all?
Edward Norton: It would have shocked me more if it had been my money. We were sponsored.
ET: Would you have given it to charity?
Matt Damon: Had we won we would have given it to charity, but we were sponsored by the casino.
ET: The characters in the film are just bizarre. How did you guys fit in with Doyle, Amarillo Slim, and some of these old characters?
Matt: I don't know that we did fit in.
Edward: We're skinnier than most of them.
Matt: Yeah, we're definitely a little skinnier than most of them.
ET: Tell us a little bit about 'Rounders' really quick.
Matt: It's a movie set in New York. I play a card player/ law student who kind of leaves the world of poker to become a lawyer and my friend here (Edward Norton) gets us into debt and so we have to go back and play some cards to get the money. Pretty straightforward tale of two young guys with this world of poker as the backdrop.
ET: You were instructed by Doyle and some of the other players on how to play. What did they tell you? What did they teach you?
Edward: We only read Doyle's book. We never got a chance to be coached by him. We got some time with Johnny Chan in Atlantic City, so it was great.
Matt: And Johnny Chan appears in the movie so it was great. So when he came to work in Atlantic City for the movie, he sat down and worked with us a bit. Yeah, these guys have been really nice. They're world class poker players and they've been very, very cool to us.
ET: Were you a gambler before or was this pretty much it?
Matt: Yeah, it's a whole different thing. You know, a weekly game with a couple of beers and potato chips and nickels, dimes and quarters is a totally different thing than this. This is a lot more serious. The home game that I used to play people would feel guilty if someone lost too much money, you know. It's kind of a different vibe.
ET: Has your life changed since your Oscar?
Matt: Not at all. My life's like this all the time. Usually I have eight to ten cameras following me around.
ET: I noticed a camera crew following you to the bathroom.
Matt: Yeah that was interesting, interesting. I invited them in and we got to know each other. No, it's been very strange, very strange. Luckily I've been working so I've had my head down.
ET: You don't go wandering into restaurants.
Matt: No. But hopefully things will cool off and I'll be able to do that really soon.