In ‘Stillwater,’ Matt Damon Finds the Humanity in a Trumper. Would You Expect Anything Less From Matt Damon? (Column)

As an actor, Matt Damon has always had two sides: the light and the dark, the noble and the furtive, the boyishly winning and the ominously coldhearted.

Early in his career, when he was that cute kid with the shiny hair and the big grin, he played characters who had a troubled layer or two, like the hero of “Good Will Hunting” (1997), but mostly he projected a decency that was unmistakable.

If this were the 1950s, he would probably have been cast forever as the boy next door.But Damon, because he has an adventurous spirit and a heap of acting talent, figured out that it would be smart not to let himself get typecast that way.

In “The Talented Mr.

Ripley” (1999), he gave one of the most daring performances of his generation, bringing Patricia Highsmith’s sociopathic scoundrel Tom Ripley to life as a cautiously diabolical preppie from hell.

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