Speaking to Entertainment Weekly as part of EW‘s Around The Table interview with the rest of the Oppenheimer cast, Damon revealed that he had negotiated with his wife to take a break from acting unless Nolan called him up for a role.
“This is going to sound made up, but it’s actually true,” Damon said to his cast mates. “I had — not to get too personal — negotiated extensively with my wife that I was taking time off. I had been in Interstellar and then Chris put me on ice for a couple of movies, so I wasn’t in the rotation, but I actually negotiated in couples therapy — this is a true story — the one caveat to my taking time off was if Chris Nolan called.”
Damon continued: “This is without knowing whether or not he was working on anything, because he never tells you. He just calls you out of the blue. And so, it was a moment in my household.”
In Oppenheimer, Damon plays the role of Leslie Groves, who was the director of the Manhattan Project. Groves personally recruited J. Robert Oppenheimer (played in the film by Cillian Murphy) to lead the project at Los Alamos.
Murphy’s comments on how he landed the role echoes that of Matt Damon, saying “Chris’ way of operating is that he just calls you out of the blue. I genuinely had no idea. He said he was making a movie about Oppenheimer and he said, ‘I’d like you to play Oppenheimer.’ I had to sit down. It was kind of overwhelming.”