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Matt Damon on Preparing for a Role Like 'Bourne'

Getting ready to play an assassin in 2002's The Bourne Identity, the boyish-looking Matt Damon had to figure a way to become a tough guy. So he trained in boxing, even though it had nothing to do with the role.

"I boxed for six months just to change the way that I walk... to convey a certain security with my own personal space... Getting punches thrown at you and throwing punches at somebody, if you do it enough it does change the way you carry yourself," the 33-year-old actor, who's starring this summer in the sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, tells NPR's Steve Inskeep.

So is there a particular technique the star of Good Will Hunting and The Talented Mr. Ripley uses to enter his roles? "For me it's kind of a process of throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks." Damon says. "Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't." But he says preparing as much as possible seems to be the key -- whether it's boxing or tending bar to get a flavor for a character and where he lives.

Damon considers the late Marlon Brando as "the benchmark" for an actor. "I watch his stuff and there's nothing. It's just seamless. It's just a different thing he's doing than anybody else does. That's obviously the goal... to arrive at some kind of place that's as close to that as possible."

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Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.