Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and the Chemistry Mystery

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, stars of the new romantic thriller "The Adjustment Bureau," discuss their fiery onscreen chemistry.

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Onscreen chemistry not only dictates the success of a film, it can also predict the success or failure of the couple’s real-world relationship. In 2003, real-life couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez starred in “Gigli,” widely considered one of the worst films of all time. Online review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes simply stated: “Affleck and Lopez lack chemistry.” The film tanked and a year later Affleck and Lopez had broken up.

In 2006, Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn starred together in “The Break-Up.” They displayed little chemistry onscreen. In December of that same year their relationship embraced the title of their film.

On the flipside, in 2005 “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie snagged this blurb from Rotten Tomatoes: “The chemistry generated by onscreen couple Pitt and Jolie is palpable enough to make this a thoroughly enjoyable summer action flick.” Unsurprisingly, Pitt was divorced and officially together with Jolie that same year.


PHOTOGRAPH: ANDREW SCHWARTZ / UNIVERSAL

What then does this say about the nature of Hollywood relationships? The case could be made that if you don’t have it in real life then you won’t be able to pretend it into existence. There are obviously exceptions to this, but many actors and actresses appear unable to act themselves out of a chemistry-less box. A good actor can convince you that he is someone completely different, but a good acting couple can rarely fool the audience into believing they love one another if there isn’t already an existing spark. “The Adjustment Bureau,” then, is fortunate to have Damon and Blunt. Their real world repartee naturally carries over to the screen, and it’s not hard for audiences to believe they share a love worth fighting for. “[Chemistry] is a strange integral thing that I think you either have it or you don’t and it’s truly as black and white as that,” says Blunt. “I feel like a lot of our chemistry came from – we have the same sense of humor, sensibility and the way we work and I think even the way I like to think about stuff is very similar to [Matt].”

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Damon has been asked about what his favorite films are, but before he can answer Blunt bursts in with “’Devil Wears Prada’ and ‘The Young Victoria,’” both films she starred in. He grins. “Not so much either of those,” he says but he concedes the round to her. It’s unclear who’ll be collecting the bet after the interview (they’re currently tied by my count), but that isn’t really the point. Damon and Blunt are just here to have fun and they’ve already accomplished that goal ten times over.

“The Adjustment Bureau” opens everywhere on Friday, March 4th.

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