Matt Damon Watched ‘Contagion’ During the Pandemic Too: ‘This Is Better Than I Remember’

When the world first slowed down in March 2020 due to COVID-19, the Contagion movie resurfaced in the public’s consciousness. People were trying to understand what was happening, and many found parallels between the crisis in the film and what was going on in real life. Matt Damon also rediscovered the movie as he and his family hunkered down during quarantine.

Matt Damon at the 78 Venice International Film Festival, 2021
Matt Damon | Rocco Spaziani/Archivio Spaziani/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

‘Contagion’ caught Matt Damon’s attention too

In a new interview with GQ, Damon discussed his friendship with Ben Affleck, his upcoming film The Last Duel, and his quarantine experience abroad. While many stayed at home, Damon and his family were onsite at a filming location and spent lockdown between Ireland and Australia. During the early weeks of the pandemic in 2020, he too turned on the TV and reacquainted himself with Contagion.

Damon was part of an ensemble cast in the 2011 film which included Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, and Jude Law. He and his family happened across it on TV and dove in.

“People were kind of hungry for more information, and the information was kind of scarce at the beginning. And so, I don’t know, I think we probably went through the same kind of subconscious or conscious process that everyone did, and just pressed ‘play,’” Damon told GQ.

“I remember thinking: This is better than I remember! Because when we released it, I think it felt more like a science fiction movie. It felt a lot more far-fetched than it actually was,” he said.

‘Contagion’ literally went viral in 2020

Praised for its scientific accuracies, Contagion was a frightening depiction of what could happen in a worldwide pandemic. Damon played Mitch Emhoff, husband to Paltrow’s patient zero. People watched the movie either again or for the first time. It rocketed up streaming/digital rental charts on iTunes, Fandango, and more. Contagion ranked in multiple top 10 lists between March and May 2020.

The film sparked discussions on social media and among its cast members. During Damon’s interview with Ireland’s Spin 1038, he mentioned that he’d spoken to the virologists, screenwriter, and other science experts who worked on Contagion when the pandemic began. “Anybody who says you couldn’t predict this… Just look at Contagion,” he said.

He also told GQ that it felt eerie watching things unfold in real life, but in his opinion, it’s fortunate that COVID is not as deadly as the virus in the film.

Damon and his co-stars launched a ‘Contagion’ campaign

In the interest of promoting social distancing and other safety protocols, the Contagion cast joined forces with scientists and public health experts from Columbia University. Damon, Winslet, and Fishburne debuted a series of online PSAs in 2020 to discuss what measures people can take to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

Though the film’s popularity has since died down, Damon recognized that the things he learned about viruses while making the movie could come to fruition — again. Fans interested in re-watching the movie can stream it on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Vudu, or Hulu.

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