Matt Damon joins Alexander Payne’s high concept sci-fi, ‘Downsizing’

Alexander Payne sticks to the real. Even with the biting satire of “Election,” “Sideways”” melancholy sitcomisms, and the quirk “Nebraska,” his films keep their feet on the ground. But there”s a high-concept side to Payne, a writer capable of penning “Jurassic Park 3” and “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.” We”ll see those skills put to good use when his percolating script “Downsizing” finally comes to fruition with one of Hollywood”s most talented leading men.

Deadline reports that Matt Damon will star in “Downsizing,” a small-scale sci-fi drama co-written with Jim Taylor (“About Schmidt,” “Sideways”). In the script”s early days of development, Reese Witherspoon and Paul Giamatti were in talks to star as a financially troubled married couple. Damon will likely take over the latter's part.

“Downsizing” has all the makings of Payne”s “Eternal Sunshine” or “her.” Previously described by the director as a deranged look at the health care industry, the film chronicles a couple's decision to shrink themselves in order to save money. When the wife changes her mind at the last minute, Damon”s character struggles as the tinier person in the relationship. According to previous reports of the film, Sacha Baron Cohen was once lined up to play two roles: a pint-sized Spaniard and his normal-sized twin brother and business partner. “Downsizing” is a weird movie.

After appearing in this year's “Monuments Men,” Damon is gearing up for another round of major leading man roles. The actor is currently in Budapest filming Ridley Scott”s adaptation of “The Martian.” Rumors circulated earlier this year that he”ll be reuniting with Paul Greengrass for another “Bourne” sequel. And while he was circling Zhang Yimou”s action film “The Great Wall,” scheduling for Payne”s film will prevent him from joining the film. Damon is the best kind of busy.

Over the years, Payne blamed “Downsizing” delays on the taxing pre-visualization and planning process. With Damon involved, the special effects grunt work appears to have finally paid off. Because it takes work to make a dramatically viable film that also cuts its lead actor off at the knees. Remember that time Gary Oldman became a little person in “Tiptoes”?