Last night, rootshed.com was on the red carpet for the New York premiere of Matt Damon and John Krasinski’s new film Promised Land. Damon and Krasinski wrote, produced and star in the picture. They were joined by their co-stars Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt, Scoot McNairy and director and executive producer Gus Van Sant at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square.
Matt Damon stars as Steve Butler, a corporate salesman whose journey from farm boy to big-time player takes an unexpected detour when he lands in a small town, where he grapples with a surprising array of both open hearts and closed doors. Steve has been dispatched to the rural town of McKinley with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand). The town has been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, and the two consummate sales executives see McKinley’s citizens as likely to accept their company’s offer – for drilling rights to their properties – as much-needed relief. What seems like an easy job and a short stay for the duo becomes complicated – professionally by calls for community-wide consideration of the offer by respected schoolteacher Frank Yates (Academy Award nominee Hal Holbrook) and personally by Steve’s encounter with Alice (Rosemarie DeWitt). When Dustin Noble (John Krasinski), a slick environmental activist, arrives, suddenly the stakes, both personal and professional, rise to the boiling point.
Gus Van Sant
Q: Tell us about making Promised Land.
A: It was great. We were in Pittsburgh. I’d never been there before. It was a great place to make a movie.
Q: What was it like to work with this ensemble?
A: Great. I had worked with Matt Damon before. I never worked with John Krasinski. They were fantastic.
Q: Tell us about your character.
A: Matt Damon’s character is a land man who comes to this small town to get the farmers to lease their land. I play a small town schoolteacher who also owns a big piece of land and she becomes a love interest to both Matt Damon and John Krasinski.
Q: What was it like working with the other actors in the cast?
A: It’s a tremendous ensemble.
Q: What do you have planned for the holiday?
A: I don’t know, yet. I guess I’ll have to see how tired I am after all this.
Q: Tell us about writing, producing, and acting in Promised Land.
A: I had the idea about 2 years ago. I wanted to tell a story about American identity. It’s basically about community and the power of community when they engage in any issue, let alone political or otherwise and fracking is a very high stakes poker kind of issue where there’s a lot potentially to gain and a lot potentially to lose. So we thought that was incredibly perfect as far as telling a human story about these people making a very, very complicated decision. So that is the idea that I brought to Matt and we started writing right away.
Q: Why did you decide to co-write the screenplay with Matt Damon?
A: I met Matt during Adjustment Bureau that he worked on with my wife and we got to know each other really well – went on a bunch of double dates and one day he said that he was looking to direct and said, “Was there anything you had written that you would want me to direct?” and I said, “Yeah, this.”
Additional guests in attendance included: Stanley Tucci and wife Felicity Blunt, Ethan Coen, Ron Livingston, Michael Pitt, John Cameron Mitchell, Patricia Clarkson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Arden Myrin, Oren Moverman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Heather Matarazzo, Thomas McCarthy, Contessa Brewer, Ben Shenkman, Carol Kane, Tony Danza, Elizabeth Vargas and Marc Cohn, Francesco Clemente, Hettienne Park, Peter Cincotti, Whitney Able, and Judah Friedlander. The after-party was held at Upper West Side eatery Loi.
Focus Features’ PROMISED LAND, MPAA-rated “R,” opens in select cities December 28th and nationwide January 4th.