‘Stillwater’: Oklahoma Oil Rig Worker Talks Showing Matt Damon Around to Help Him Get Into Character
Stillwater is about an American roughneck named Bill Baker (played by Matt Damon) who travels to France in an effort to exonerate his estranged daughter (Abigail Breslin) after she’s been charged with murder — a crime she claims she didn’t commit. Prior to filming, Damon and director Tom McCarthy road-tripped around Oklahoma, where they spent time with locals. One of those locals was Kenny Baker, drilling superintendent for Cactus Drilling Co. Here’s what he had to say about sharing his world with Damon.
Kenny Baker on showing Matt Damon around for ‘Stillwater’ research
After Stillwater premiered in theaters, Baker was interviewed by CNN about his experience with Damon.
When asked, “What did you do with Matt Damon?” the drilling superintendent provided a thorough play-by-play.
We went and picked him up from his motel room. We hung out and ate breakfast, went to the office and showed ’em our office where we work at. Showed ’em the yards and kind of showed ’em a bunch of drilling rigs. showed ’em the parts of the rigs and kind of explained to him what we do. Took off there, went down to Southern Oklahoma and had dinner. Went and ate dinner at that BBQ place there and then after that we went to the rigs, showed them around the rigs, showed ’em an active drilling rig. Left there and went through some towns, showed ’em some places in Oklahoma and took ’em to the house and we had some steaks cooking on the grill. I don’t know, we ate and had a good time. And then my son, he’s a competition shooter so he wanted to shoot skeet. So we shot some skeet, showed him how to shoot skeet. Little guitar did come out. My daughter likes to play guitar and my cousin Chris, he’s a pretty good singer, so they put on a little show for ’em. They had a really good time.Kenny Baker on showing Matt Damon around Oklahoma
Matt Damon is thankful for Kenny Baker and the other Oklahoma locals who helped him build his ‘Stillwater’ character
Playing someone like Bill was a first for Damon. He needed a lot of help to get it right.
“I’d never played a guy like this,” he told Screen Rant. “It was a very specific thing this kind of roughneck culture down in Oklahoma and Texas. And thankfully, we had some guys that we could go to down there who really gave us incredible access and really helped us build the character.”
Spending time with Baker and the rest of the people he met in Oklahoma helped Damon narrow in on the particularities of his character.
“Everything about the guy comes from them,” he said. “It’s a very specific look: the jeans look like they do because they have fire-retardant on them, you know what I mean? Every single thing has a reason for being the way it is. And if I showed you my phone, I could show you pictures of 15 or 20 guys that look exactly like your friends from Enid, Oklahoma. It’s a look.”
Matt Damon on the politics in ‘Stillwater’
Damon is a vocal liberal himself, but his character, Bill, is a Trump supporter. And he would have voted for the reality star-turned-politician, too, had a prior felony not kept him from the polls.
“These guys don’t apologize for who they are,” Damon said of the people who helped him research his role at a press conference in July, as reported by Variety.
“They’re in the oil business, of course he voted for Trump,” he continued. “These people were wonderful to us, they really helped us. It was eye-opening for me.”
Stillwater does a good job of highlighting the way other countries perceive Americans. But more specifically, McCarthy says the film is about “relationships, and how we connect to each other.”