Actor Matt Damon shaved off all his hair to play the part of Max De Costa in District 9 director Neil Blomkamp’s new dystopian sci-fi film, Elysium. He worked out constantly to get bigger and more muscular for the part. He went through the hours-long process of having his body covered in fake tattoos. And for much of the movie, he wore really restrictive and uncomfortable-looking, cyborg-style metal armour. Oh, yeah—and for two straight weeks, he filmed scenes down by “Poo River”, covered from head to toe in feces. Damon calls it “the toughest two weeks of shooting I’ve ever had.” Sounds about right.
Poo River, as described by Damon, was special place located inside the Mexico City dump where Blomkamp and his crew shot Elysium‘s earth scenes (Damon’s co-star Jodie Foster spent her time on set in Vancouver, which stood in for the off-earth paradise that served as the playground for future humanity’s richest one percent). While Vancouver had mountain views and ocean air, the dump was dry and very dusty, and, as Damon explains in a new interview with Total Film, “like any dump anywhere in the world, the dust is in large part fecal matter.” Huh. You learn something new every day.
So after several long hours of shooting action scenes under the hot Central American sun, the actors and crew would be covered in the fecal dust. “At the end of the day we would wipe this stuff off and basically throw shitty towels at each other,” recalls Damon, before filling us all in on the delights of Poo River. “Yeah, that was a running joke with the crew,” he says, “We also had a location within the dump that we called Poo River. It was like, ‘OK, can we get everyone down to Poo River?’”
Showbiz, folks—it’s all very glamorous.