Matt Damon talks gym prep for 'Elysium,' replacing Eminem in lead role

matt-damon-elysium-workout-gi.jpgWhen "Elysium" hits theaters on Aug. 9, it will bring a very buff Matt Damon to the big screen. At a special screening of the film in NYC on Tuesday (July 30), Damon opened up on just what it took to get him into outstanding shape.

Damon tells Variety that director Neill Blomkamp was insistent on just how muscular he wanted his leading actor to be in the film. "Neill was so specific about what he wanted me to look like. He actually had a picture with my face tacked onto this guy with this body," the actor admits, "and they literally hired me as a trainer and I went to him with the picture. It was four hours a day in the gym -- and I'm not 26 anymore but I got in shape."

More shocking than Damon's crazy workout would be who he replaced as Blomkamp's vision for the role: Eminem. When queried over reports that the "8 Mile" rapper was the director's original choice for the lead, Damon says, "That's true -- people have been asking that. Probably half of the movies I do have somebody else's fingerprints on them. It's the nature of the business. I've passed on things other actors have taken.

"You never know exactly what the alchemy is going to be. Sometimes you end up with somebody and you can't believe that wasn't your first choice the whole time. I've always felt the right actor gets the part. Even on movies like 'Milk' for instance. I was desperate to do the Dan White role.  It was one of the best scripts I'd ever read. Then it got pushed back because of Sean [Penn's] schedule and I was devastated, even though it was only two weeks of work. "When I saw the movie and saw what Josh Brolin did with it, I went, 'You know what? The right actor got the part.' I do believe it all works out."

We're pretty sure the right actor got the part this time, too.
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images
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