Matt Damon was almost Robin. Twice. In an interview with Josh Horowitz for the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Damon revealed that he had auditioned for the role in both Tim Burton‘s 1989 Batman and Joel Schumacher‘s 1995 Batman Forever.
“There’s two stories there,” Damon explained. “There’s the Robin role, we went down to New York. 1987 maybe — ’87, 88′. I would have been 16 or 17.” The role was ultimately cut from the 1989 film, but featured in early drafts of the screenplay. But Damon never saw that script. “I remember that we didn’t have sides — it wasn’t like you’re reading a scene with Batman. It was so secretive that you’re reading this other scene from some other movie.”
Then, in 1993, Damon made it to screen tests for the role in Batman Forever that ultimately went to Chris O’Donnell. “Chris O’Donnell already had the part, but they were haggling over money,” Damon recalls. “The studio was flexing, basically, by flying in two other people to screen test. They wanted Chris, but they just wanted him for a price.” He wasn’t under any delusions about his prospects, but went in for the screen test, anyway. “I remember at that stage in my career, you would go in and read, even if you knew you weren’t going to get the part.”
Of course, Damon is now in a decidedly different position, with a number of acclaimed roles, including his turn as a roughneck with a vendetta in Stillwater arriving in theaters August 30. He will also star in The Last Duel, which he also co-wrote with Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener.
Damon and Horowitz touch on many of those topics in the interview, which ranges from the dispositions of the directors he’s worked with to the roles that he ultimately turned down. Indeed, the story comes full circle when Damon tells the story of how he turned down a role in Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight. Even so, after getting so close to the role twice, Robin may just feel like the part that got away.
You can listen to the full interview with Damon here. Check out Horowitz‘s tweet with a video clip about Batman Forever below.