Matt Delamater, actor and Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School alum, relaxes beside the Little Androscoggin River at Café Nomad in Norway as he talks about appearing in the George Clooney-directed film “The Tender Bar” with Ben Affleck. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

BRIDGTON — Matt Delamater, a son of Oxford Hills and actor of Maine stage, is riding the wave of attention that comes from working alongside Academy Award winners George Clooney and Ben Affleck.

He appears in the movie “The Tender Bar,” directed by Clooney and starring Affleck, a coming-of-age film that was released late last year and began streaming on Amazon Prime Video in January.

Delamater is living his acting dream, one he said he did not even know he had until “later in life,” when he was well ensconced in a bank lending career. Discovery began from a sense that he was stuck in routines he had grown up with, namely going into finance right out of college and playing semipro football.

“I felt like I was clinging to days of old of wanting to play sports, but I wasn’t connecting with it much anymore,” he said.

A chance call to his former high school English teacher, Sally Jones, piqued his curiosity and led him down a path he had never really considered, and underscores the influence that educators can have on their students beyond the classroom.

“I just called Sally and was like, ‘What’s going in the theater world? Is there still a theater?’” Delamater recalled in a story he has told many times and will continue to in the future. “And she told me about some auditions the next day and that I should come.”


The show was “The Music Man,” staged by the Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association, and his mentor Jones was the producer.

“I went and stumbled through the audition,” he said. “I had to sing and I didn’t know if I could sing. And I got a role in ‘The Music Man.’ It was a big production and I had a few roles. I played one of the salesmen on the train and a couple different smaller ones. And I just loved it. The performance. The teamwork aspect of theater.”

After that he found himself auditioning wherever he could.

“The first success for me was just getting cast,” he said. “Getting the chance to do it. I didn’t have any delusions of grandeur that I was going to Hollywood or move to New York or Broadway. I was just like, ‘I really like this.’ I discovered this part of myself that as a banker or maybe an athlete I didn’t realize.”

Delamater never turned back after his first taste of the stage. He began looking further than OHMPAA for roles, auditioning in Lewiston-Auburn at the Community Little Theatre.

Then one break came when Christopher Schario and Janet Mitchko of The Public Theatre in Lewiston cast him in an equity production of “A Christmas Carol” as Fred, nephew of Ebenezer Scrooge.


“Professional theater groups are usually associated with Actors’ Equity, like an acting union,” Delamater explained. “Where you have to hire so many equity actors and crew for it to get that standing, like admission price, size of theater. It allows the theater to say that it’s a higher-quality production. Usually they bring in actors from out of state, like Boston, New York, Chicago.”

The Public Theatre is one of three equity groups in Maine, along with the Portland Stage Co. and The Ogunquit Playhouse.

“For me, I had been dreaming of Portland Stage and then I got to work with these regular actors,” Delamater said, while acknowledging that Portland Stage is a goal he has not been able to align his schedule with but is still on his radar.

Delamater moonlighted as an actor while he continued his day job as a bank lending vice president – two roles that do not normally intersect or complement each other. He thanks his wife, Emily, for making it possible.

“My wife is the best partner in the world,” he said. “I’d get cast and be in another show. She was my theater widow, ‘Matt’s gone every night,’ but she was very supportive. She knew I was passionate about it.

“Since I never went to school for it, I used every opportunity that I got to be part of my school. Every director became my teacher, and my cast mates. I just tried to be a sponge.”


A second break came in the aftermath of Massachusetts creating tax incentives in 2006, to cultivate a local filmmaking industry. As the state became a destination for television and movie productions Delamater landed a Boston-based agent and set out on the audition circuit there.

Early on he was satisfied playing background actor parts as part of his education, especially in productions with directors he wanted to see up close. He would get paid a little bit and be part of the show, but he also got to be in the front row watching professionals like David O. Russell or Christian Bale do their work.

One part led to another, and another, until he landed the plum role of barkeep Joey D in “The Tender Bar,” filmed in Boston. It is based on the memoir of J. R. Moehringer, who grew up in 1970s Long Island under the wing of his Uncle Charlie, owner of the movie’s namesake bar.

In a classic case of one door opening after the first one closed, Delamater was getting over the disappointment of not being cast in the 2019 movie “Little Women,” starring Meryl Streep, Emma Watson and Laura Dern.

“I missed out on a Meryl Street project, doing an HBO movie with her,” he said. “You throw yourself out there a lot” without getting the call.

Then his agent sent him the script for “The Tender Bar” during the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020. With the help of good friend and film director Sean Mewshaw, he made an audition tape in his young son’s bedroom and sent it off.


Within weeks he found out he was on the short list of contenders. Two weeks later he got a call from the director of casting for the movie, Carolyn Pickman.

“I saw her number on my phone and I was like ‘Oh my god this is good news or bad news,’” Delamater said. “And she didn’t tell me for the first five minutes, she just talked about the project.”

Finally, he interrupted her to ask, did he get the part?

“I went outside and my wife was watching, like what was I doing? I was just pacing. And (Carolyn) told me I did (get the part). This was my first principal, soup-to-nuts production, versus being a day or weekly player. I think I jumped up and down a little bit. Like a child but quietly, so I didn’t sound like a little kid to the director.”

Filming was done in 2020 through COVID. For months Delamater worked just a couple of hours from home but had to stay remote, in a Boston isolation bubble with the cast and crew. Being away from his family was the hardest part, but the dynamic of a group of friends going through life together in a bar paralleled being in isolation working with those people and made the work easier, he said.

In addition to “The Tender Bar” he has recently appeared on television, shooting “Chicago PD” for one episode. He also was in a few episodes of “American Odyssey,” another NBC series and on “Castle Rock,” a Hulu horror series that draws several Stephen King characters together in one cast.

Despite migrating from acting in Oxford Hills to acting in front of the likes of George Clooney, Delamater is firmly grounded in Maine.

His goals include working, and growing, as an actor. But they do not include pursuing his craft in the Big Apple or Tinseltown.

“I love living in Maine, the Oxford Hills, the lakes region. It will never be like ‘Oh cool, when this happens we’re going to move to L.A. or New York,’” Delamater said. “I’m going to be a Maine actor, for better or worse.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.