Matt Damon just dropped some major life wisdom in his commencement speech
We’ve always had a big crush on Matt Damon — as an actor, as a person — and now we have another reason to crush on him after his MIT commencement speech.
Of course, none of us could forget when Matt Damon played an MIT janitor/math genius in 1997’s Good Will Hunting. But now, IRL, he was at the podium.
In his commencement speech, Damon told the graduates that this was his second time “fake graduating” and how he had dropped out of Harvard to become an actor instead. (Yep, that looks like it was a good decision for him.) He also brought along his own cheering section to the ceremony, not like he needed it — his parents, wife (Luciana Barroso), and four daughters. Awww.
Matt Damon was playful and charming, but also serious in his messages for the grads, and was the first Hollywood star to give the commencement address in 17 years.
“MIT, you have to go out and do really interesting things, important things, inventive things, because this world has some problems that we need you to drop everything and solve,” Damon said, a reference to MIT’s hallway blackboards, reported ET Online. The boards allow students to “drop everything” and write down ideas.
Damon also gave an interesting anecdote about the boards. “One of the scenes in Good Will Hunting is actually based on something that happened to my brother Kyle,” Damon told M.I.T.’s graduates, according to Vanity Fair. “He was visiting a physicist we knew at M.I.T. and he was walking down the Infinite Corridor. He saw those blackboards that line the halls. So my brother, who is an artist, picked up some chalk and wrote an incredibly elaborate, totally fake version of an equation. And it was so cool and completely insane that no one erased it for months. This is a true story.”
And it gets better.
“Kyle came back [to me and Ben] and he said, ‘You guys, listen to this. They’ve got blackboards running down the hall [at M.I.T.] because these kids are so smart. They just need to, you know, drop everything and solve problems.’ It was then we knew for sure that we could never have gotten in.”
Kidding aside, Damon laced his address with seriousness, too.
“So, go ahead and pick from the world’s worst buffet—economic inequality, how about the refugee crisis, massive global insecurity, climate change, pandemics, institutional racism … fear-driven brains working overtime here in America,” Damon said.
Speaking of fear of failure, he reminded grads (and all of us) that “You’ve got to suit up in your armor. You’ve got to get ready to sound like a total fool. Not having an answer isn’t embarrassing—it’s an opportunity.”
So, to put it in movie terms (why not?), not every film Matt Damon does is a success, just like not all our choices are, either. But we learn from them nonetheless. And we keep trying.
Damon also mentioned the importance of seeing other cultures and problems first-hand, as well as Water.org, a clean water project he cofounded that aims to give safe water and sanitation to countries without it. (Seriously, could we love him any more?!)
And, he touched on politics, which is probably hard to avoid these days, saying we have, “an American political system that’s failing,” and chiding Donald Trump. “It’s alright, I’m not running for office, I can say anything I want,” Damon joked.
Speaking of politics, Matt Damon also threw in advice he once received from Bill Clinton. “What he said was, ‘Turn towards the problem you see, you have to engage.’ That is what I want to tell you today, is to turn towards the problem that you see and engage with them—walk right up and look them in the eye, and look yourself in the eye and decide what you want to do about them.”
You can check out the whole speech here: