Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Damon began his acting career by appearing in high school theater productions and he made his professional acting debut in the film Mystic Pizza (1988). He came to prominence in 1997 when he wrote and starred in Good Will Hunting alongside Ben Affleck, which won them the Academy and Golden Globe awards for Best Screenplay, and earned Damon a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He continued to garner praise from critics for his roles as the eponymous character in Saving Private Ryan (1998), the antihero in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), a fallen angel in Dogma (1999), Pr Exec in Jersey Girl, an energy analyst in Syriana (2005), and an Irish-American criminal in The Departed (2006).
Damon is also known for his starring roles as Jason Bourne in the Bourne franchise (2002–16) and as a con man in the Ocean's Trilogy (2001–07). For his supporting role as the rugby player Francois Pienaar in Invictus (2009), and his leading role as an astronaut stranded on Mars in The Martian (2015), Damon received Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor, respectively. The latter also won him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. Damon has received Emmy Award nominations for his portrayal of Scott Thorson in the biopic Behind the Candelabra (2013) and for producing the reality series Project Greenlight.
In addition to acting in films, Damon has performed voice-over work in both animated and documentary films, and has established two production companies with Affleck. He has been actively involved in charitable work, including the ONE Campaign, H2O Africa Foundation, Feeding America, and Water.org. With his wife, Luciana Bozán Barroso, he has three daughters and a stepdaughter from Barroso's prior marriage.