Matt Damon transformed from being a lonely teenager appearing in high school theater productions to a successful A-list star receiving an Academy Award from five nominations. The Massachusetts native is considered one of the highest-grossing actors of all time and has branched out to screenwriting and producing as well. This Top 10 Rules for Success video reveals several nuggets of wisdom that have worked so well for Matt as he pursued his acting ambitions. Here are three of the rules mentioned.

Believe in yourself

When asked the best advice he’d ever received, Damon answered with some particularly discouraging advice: “When I was younger, everybody told me not to be an actor. To this day, I say that to people who come up to me and say, ‘I’m thinking of going into acting. What do you think?’ I say, ‘Absolutely not, terrible idea, don’t do it.’ Because that’s what everyone said to me. And I think if you’re going to make it in this business that is so full of rejection and hardship, you need to believe in yourself despite what everybody you love and trust tells you.” 

Channel your energy

While attending Harvard University, Damon would skip classes to pursue acting projects no matter how small they were. And he wrote an early treatment of the screenplay Good Will Hunting for English class about an unrecognized genius. Then Matt and his good buddy, Ben Affleck took that treatment and turned it into a completed script. The two would go on to receive an Oscar for their Good Will Hunting screenplay years later after the film was made. Damon says he and Affleck wrote the script “out of necessity.” He continued, “We just needed a job. And as you all know, they don’t really give those out here. So it was just two guys who were eager and young and had a lot of energy and a lot of creative energy. That’s always a big problem with LA and New York. You’d meet these other actors and it’s like you’re rearing to go, and there’s nowhere to put that energy.” Besides writing their own material, Damon encourages actors to channel their energy into other healthy and productive avenues like taking classes to gain acting experience.

Decide not to be nervous

A star-struck Damon was on the set of Saving Private Ryan with his co-star Tom Hanks when Hanks said something that made a lasting impression on the younger actor. “I was asking him about the movie he did with Jackie Gleason,” Damon recalls. “And I said, ‘What was it like to work with Jackie Gleason?’ And he thought about it for a second and he said, ‘You know, I made a decision to not be nervous.’ And I went, ‘What?’ And he goes, ‘I just, I knew everyone was so nervous around him and I just said, ‘I’m not going to be nervous around him.’ And once he realized I was treating him like a fellow human being, we really had this great working relationship.” Damon has gone on to work with many other prestigious, if not intimidating talents, and it seems this advice has served him quite well.

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