On the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, ambitious politician David Norris meets beautiful contemporary ballet dancer Elise Sellas (played by Emily Blunt) But just as he realizes he's falling for her, mysterious men conspire to keep the two apart.
The production was able to leverage Matt Damon’s celebrity to further the authenticity of David Norris’ life in The Adjustment Bureau. During the shoot, Damon was asked to take part in President Clinton’s Global Initiative. Recounts producer Michael Hackett: “We had the idea, and the Clinton people thought it was fine, that Matt would go in wardrobe as David Norris, who would logically be at this type of an event. We could get him interacting with President Clinton and other heads of state.” A skeleton crew, led by cinematographer John Toll, was granted the security clearances necessary to follow Damon around the event documentary-style, while producer Moore worked to persuade other world leaders and politicians to appear in the film as well.
The key crew even had a fortuitous encounter with President Obama’s advance team at The Waldorf Astoria hotel during the first week of shooting, and it secured some bonus technical advice as it prepared to shoot the concession speech scene. Key learning? Lose a Lucite podium in favor of a more traditional one. Damon’s publicity tour stops to promote The Informant! also benefited The Adjustment Bureau. The Informant! was being released just as production began, and so Damon’s appearance on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart became another opportunity to shoot a campaign-stumping scene for David.
“The way people react to Matt Damon is not unlike how they would react to a celebrity politician,” says Hackett. “We used that to our advantage. He can walk down the streets of New York and people see him and camera phones come out. But that was value for the movie because, again, they are reacting to Matt Damon, not dissimilar to how we would like them to be reacting to the character of David Norris.” Another aspect of this character that plays well into Damon’s filmic experience is the physicality of stunts. Much like Jason Bourne’s tireless athlete, David Norris finds himself literally outrunning Fate. “There are a number of corridors and stairwells, lobbies and elevator banks in this film,” states production designer Kevin Thompson. As David navigates Manhattan, eluding agents and eventually making a final dash into the heart of The Bureau itself, he is running for his life.
As an actor who enjoys performing his own stunts, Damon had athletic ability to spare while playing Norris. But that was occasionally frustrating to the Ginger Rogers to his Fred Astaire. “Matt’s a good runner. He’s fast, annoyingly fast,” laughs Emily Blunt, who was forced to keep up with him while she wore high heels for many of her character’s chase scenes with David.
Perhaps the only element in the film that seems to be a departure from Damon’s prior acting roles is the love story. “This is the most romantic lead I’ve ever had,” admits Damon. “It was definitely new territory.”