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Matt Damon initially turned down starring role in George Clooney's new film

Matt Damon initially turned down the opportunity to star in pal George Clooney's dark new comedy Suburbicon because of family commitments.

The Bourne Identity star had just completed four movies over a two-year period and promised his family he wouldn't take on another project when Clooney sent him the script for his movie about a suburban dad's war with the Mafia.

"When George called me, I was like, 'I'd rather be waterboarded than turn you down, but I have to be with my family'," he tells The Hollywood Reporter.

However, after the Gravity star agreed to move the filming to Los Angeles, where Damon lives, he was more than thrilled to sign on.

"Then I remember we were in London, working on Jason Bourne, and I was sitting at the dinner table with my wife when this text came in that said, 'How about if I move it to L.A.?' It was George who suggested it," he says. "I turned the phone to my wife and she goes, 'OK, you're doing it'. George was sending a text to her through me, basically."

Damon was thrilled to be reuniting with Clooney, his friend of 20 years, and because George's personality and career has always impressed the actor.

"He's evolved, but he's the same in a lot of critical ways," Damon explains. "In all the important ways, he's the same; he's got a huge heart, he's incredibly loyal, and he's really, really smart.

"When I met him, he was just coming off ER; he was known as this massive TV star. People didn't understand how talented he was; they just thought he was this really handsome, matinee-idol TV star."

"Now the perception of George is as big a movie star as you can get, an A-list director, an Oscar-winning producer," he continues. "He's somebody whose opinion I really value. If I'm working on a script, I'm sending it to him for notes; if I'm doing a movie I'm showing him a cut and asking for suggestions. In baseball, they would call it a five-tool athlete - just somebody who can do everything."

"He's an easy guy to hate, I guess!" he chuckles.