The Hollywood A-lister discusses learning new skills while promoting his movie, Le Mans '66.

Matt Damon talks about learning rugby for Invictus

It has been ten years since the movie Invictus, about the aftermath of apartheid and Nelson Mandela’s support of the World Cup-winning Springboks of 1995, hit screens. But while promoting his new movie Le Mans ’66, Hollywood star Matt Damon – who played captain Francois Pienaar in the 2009 film – came onto the subject of rugby.

While talking to the Bill Simmons Podcast on The Ringer, Damon was explaining that some had pointed out that the actor was shorter than American car designer Carroll Shelby, who he plays in Le Mans ’66.

South Africa just won the World Cup,” Damon said.  “He (Pienaar) was even bigger than Shelby. I mean, he was much bigger than Shelby. He was like a linebacker.”

Talk turns to learning new skills for movies and when Simmons asks Damon if he learned rugby for the Clint Eastwood-directed movie, the actor explains how they approached what felt like chaos.

“Well, I realised right away that  that there’s no way (he could get fully involved).

Matt Damon talks about learning rugby for Invictus

Iconic: Mandela and Pienaar together in 1995 (Getty Images)

“I’ve done a football movie with School Ties, right, And (with football) it’s like, ‘All right, here’s the play and you do the X’s and O’s and  you’re gonna run right between the guard and the tackle and you’re gonna…’ And it’s a very scripted thing. Whereas rugby’s just a free for all.

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“I realised right away the ball goes down and you get in the maul and and the thing is you go (in0, there’s no way to ensure that someone’s not going to step on your face. And and if someone steps on your face with cleats, like, the movie shuts down for a week while you heal.

“So, so what we did like most of that movie, we were shooting the rugby stuff. And Clint Eastwood had his little monitor, you know, ’cause he’s out on the field watching the movie, watching what the cameras seeing, and I’m standing next to him going ‘Ook that looked tough! Oh that looked painful!

“So I didn’t do a lot of it.”

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