Matt Hooper is a main character and major supporting protagonist of the 1975 natural horror film Jaws. He is an oceanographer and shark expert who aided Chief Martin Brody and Quint with the shark throughout the film.
Matt Hooper was born into a very wealthy family and was given a boat when he was twelve years old. While fishing off of Cape Cod, Hooper hooked a four-and-a-half foot baby thresher shark, that devoured his boat. Fascinated by this, Hooper began to study sharks and became an oceanographer.
Matt Hooper arrived on Amity Island at the request of Chief Martin Brody after a killer shark in the area had devoured its second victim. Hooper asked Brody to let him see the remains of the first victim, who was believed killed by a boat. Hooper examined the remains of the girl, Chrissie Watkins, and confirmed that she had factually been killed by a shark, not a boat. When he and Brody arrived back at the beach, they saw that a group of fishermen had caught what Hooper identified as a tiger shark. Hooper told Brody that the bite radius of the shark was not the same as the wounds on the victim and stated that cutting open its stomach was the only way to be sure. Mayor Larry Vaughan refused to allow the procedure to be made public and so, after Hooper arrived at Brody's house for supper and explained how he had developed his fascination with sharks, the two returned and confirmed that the shark was not the killer of the two victims. They went out on Hooper's boat to find the shark, but instead found the boat of local fisherman Ben Gardner, whose boat had been attacked by the shark. Hooper found a tooth belonging to a great white shark, but he dropped it upon seeing Gardner's remains float into view of his flashlight. Mayor Vaughan refused to close the beaches, but empowered Brody and Hooper to do whatever necessary to make the beaches safe.
Hooper and Brody assembled a patrol of boats with deputies and townsmen on the beach, Hooper being on the water and, Brody on the beach. Hooper alerted Brody when the shark seemed to have appeared, but then let him know it was a hoax when it turned out to be just a pair of boys. Meanwhile, the shark swam into the pond nearby and devoured a fourth victim. After Brody had gotten a payment order signed by mayor Vaughan, Hooper went with him to the home of local professional shark hunter Quint, whom they hired to kill the shark. Hooper offered to be his extra hand on board Quint's boat, and tied a sheepshank knot when Quint told him to do so to prove he had what it took, afterwards expressing distaste at Quint's test of one's level of work class. When Brody soon requested that he too be allowed to come on the hunt, Quint told the two that they would be his crew and he their captain while they were on his vessel, which they agreed to. Hooper moved his diving and protection equipment on board Quint's sharking boat, the Orca, and the trio set out to hunt down and kill the shark.
After Brody and Quint had managed to hook the shark and it got away, Hooper tried to tell Quint that the piano wire being bite through was irrelevant, but was told off by Quint and ordered to drive the boat twelve minutes south-southeast. Later, Quint ordered Hooper to take the boat forward slowly while Brody started to lay another chum line in the water. After the shark appeared, Hooper stated that it was twenty feet long, but was corrected by Quint, who said it was twenty-five. Hooper got his camera and started to photograph the shark, but Quint told him to line the harpoon in his harpoon rifle to the one of the flotation barrels, but went below deck and got a transmitter first. Hooper got the line attached to the barrel just in time for Quint to shoot the shark in the fin, but it dragged the barrel under and escaped. After supper, Hooper and Brody listened as Quint told his past story as a survivor of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and they men begin to sing a rendiion of "Show Me The Way To Go Home", only for the shark to reappear and attack the boat. Quint ordered Hooper to start the engine and pump out the water in the boat. After the light went out, the shark escaped.
The next day, Hooper, Brody, and Quint tried to fix the boat's damaged engine, but the barrel resurfaced again. After the shark severed the rope on the barrel, Hooper attached another barrel to Quint's harpoon rifle, and ran the shark down with the boat, allowing the shark to be harpooned twice more. After the barrels resurfaced, Hooper and Brody attached their ropes to the stern cleats at Quint's order. After the cleats started to pull loose, Hooper alerted Quint, who proceeded to harpoon the shark a fourth time below the jaw. Unable to untie the ropes, the shark ripped off the cleats. When Quint started to drive back to Amity port to try and drown the shark in the shallow water, Hooper urged him not to put so much pressure on the boat's damaged engine, as it would blow out, but was ignored and the engine exploded. With the boat then immobilized, the men decided to try a desperate approach to kill the shark, using Hooper's anti-shark cage and hypodermic spear to poison the shark with strychnine. However, the shark caused him to drop the spear, and smashed into the cage. Hooper escaped and hid on the seabed. After Brody had killed the shark by blowing it up, Hooper rejoined him at the surface and was informed of Quint's death. Brody and Hooper held a brief moment of silence in respect for Quint and paddled back to Amity Island using Quint's remaining flotation barrels.
Matt Hooper is very knowledgeable of sharks and knows how to handle safety situations with them well, but, despite his knowledge of sharks and weapons capable of killing them, Hooper lacked skill at hunting them, as well as experience with them compatible with Quint, resulting in his willingly becoming Quint's underling during the hunt for the shark. Hooper knew how to handle the bodies of dead sharks to see if they were man-eaters and knew how to confirm whether a certain shark was the killer of a certain victim just by measuring the shark's mouth. He also demonstrated great skill with boat care, able to help Quint to repair the Orca when the shark damaged the engine.
Hooper is usually very polite and well-mannered, and is fascinated by sharks, but tends to be a know-it-all about them, which has led him to make mistakes, such as incorrectly stating that it was not a shark Quint hooked with his piano wire, only to be proven wrong when the shark bit through the wire. Despite disliking Quint to a minor degree, Hooper was very loyal to him during the hunt for the shark, and always followed orders willingly and without complaint. He also respected Quint and was somewhat saddened by his loss, as he briefly lamented his death and held a moment of silent respect for him with Brody.
- Though he did not appear in the sequel film, Jaws 2, Matt Hooper was mentioned to be aboard the Aurora research vessel. He was supposed to go on that vessel in the first film, but stayed on Amity to help with the shark.