For someone who has starred in his own action movie franchise, Matt Damon has been in very few real-life fights.
When Damon stopped by fellow Massachusetts native Conan O’Brien’s show on Monday to talk about his upcoming film “Ford v. Ferrari,” Damon recalled one of the few times he was ever faced with a potential beatdown as a teenager in Cambridge, and how Ben Affleck came to his rescue.
According to Damon, the trouble started when he and a group of neighborhood kids went to play football on Cambridge Common during a snow day in the mid ’80s. At that point, Damon and Affleck were both students at Cambridge Rindge & Latin.
“I mouthed off to a kid that I knew. He was like your height, he was like 6-[foot]-6,” Damon told O’Brien. “I might have been 5-[foot]-3 at the time. I said something — I’d scored on him or something, I don’t know, I said something — but he came for me.”
Before Damon knew it, he was on the ground with the other kid on top of him. At that point, he mentally prepared himself to get pummeled.
“And it was right then that little 5-[foot]-2 Ben Affleck tackled this dude off of me. Like, out of nowhere,” Damon said. “I was a junior and he was a freshman, and he tackled this kid off of me, literally at the risk of his own life.”
In the end, Damon said the other kids broke up the skirmish because everyone wanted to get back to playing football. Even though no fists flew, the memory sticks with him to this day.
“I remember that was a big moment,” Damon said. “Like, ‘This guy will put himself in a really bad spot for me. This is a good friend.' ”