"You gave an aging suburban dad the ego boost of a lifetime," he says

By People Staff
November 14, 2007 08:00 AM

Yes, George Clooney and Brad Pitt have shamelessly campaigned for him since 2001, but this year’s winner was Bourne to the title. Named America’s most bankable star by Forbes, the golden boy with the crooked smile is smart, charming and humble to boot. “You gave an aging suburban dad the ego boost of a lifetime,” wrote Damon, 37, in a letter to PEOPLE, explaining why he couldn’t possibly accept the crown.

Unfortunately for him, his gambit backfired, because the letter – which we’ve reprinted, with his permission, on the next page – perfectly demonstrates many of the reasons we chose him in the first place: irresistible sense of humor, rock-solid family man (he and wife Luciana have two daughters), heart-melting humility. And to bolster our case even more, we called in for backup from former title-holders Clooney and Ben Affleck, who also offer their insights into why – like it or not – Damon is this year’s Sexiest Man Alive.

Damon takes wife Luciana and mom Nancy Carlsson-Paige to the L.A. premiere of The Bourne Ultimatum in July

First off, I must say I was floored when I heard you guys voted me the Sexiest Man Alive for 2007. I guess all the campaigning finally paid off. Ditching Clooney as a campaign manager and going with Brad for the final push was an emotional decision, but I knew it was going to be tight and the youth vote was going to make or break me. So, thanks for making my political calculus look so sound.

Unfortunately, after all those years out on the trail, the meet and greets, the fund-raisers, the stump speeches, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that this is a mantle I wasn’t meant to hold. The main problem for me in accepting an award like this is that when I do interviews they are to promote a project I’m involved with. So if the questions get too personal, I can always say, “Sorry, I’ll pass on that one, I’d rather talk about Bourne 18: Jason Meets Freddy,” or whatever.

This interview would be to promote, well, me. And as shameless a self-promoter as I am, invariably the questions will turn toward things like fatherhood, and although this is my favorite topic in private (in fact, I rarely shut up about it), it would mean some extra unwanted attention on my little ones. I’m really trying to give them as little of the celebrity stuff as I can.

Damon and Clooney go sexy face to sexy face at The Bourne Supremacy premiere in 2004.
Eric Charbonneau/Berliner Studio/BEImages

So ultimately, I think you wouldn’t get as good an issue as you might with someone else. I mean, who the hell wants to read an exposé about some guarded actor who didn’t get the memo and keeps refusing to answer really basic questions?

The point is, if you agree to participate in something like this then you have to have some fun with it and I just don’t think I’d be much fun.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I was really shocked and happy (Lucy said I actually blushed) when I heard the news. So I can’t thank you enough for that.

You gave an aging suburban dad the ego boost of a lifetime. My 9-year-old step daughter now thinks I’m cool – well, cooler – and although the rest of the world will remain in the dark about this, my wife now knows she’s married to almost the sexiest guy alive. And that fact alone may get me out of doing the dishes once in a while . . .

See you down the road,