Matt Damon thrives as A-List character actor

“This is the first time I’ve done an interview with an ice pack down my pants,” Matt Damon said one recent Sunday, having retreated to the relative comfort of his trailer on a wet and chilly Manhattan film set.

The culprit was a pulled groin muscle, sustained during a full morning of sprinting through TriBeCa streets in the pouring rain for “The Adjustment Bureau,” a romantic thriller based on a Philip K. Dick story.

The last setup of the morning called for Mr. Damon, wearing a porkpie hat, to burst out of a side door and hurtle down an alley that had been rigged with sprinklers. This is the start of the climactic chase, which takes his character, a political candidate, through downtown Manhattan and up the steps of the courthouse on Centre Street. While this particular shot will amount to just a couple of seconds in the finished film, Mr. Damon was giving it the careful consideration befitting a thinking man’s action hero.

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