Cambridge natives Matt Damon and Ben Affleck almost saw their writing partnership ruined forever as a result of their collaboration on the script for Good Will Hunting — or so the longtime friends said in an interview with Jimmy Fallon that aired Wednesday night.
The duo was on the “Tonight Show” with writer Nicole Holofcener to promote their new film “The Last Duel,” a medieval epic based on a true story that has already received rave reviews from critics. Ridley Scott directed the film.
“The way we thought of doing it was in these three different perspectives: two male perspectives and one female perspective because it’s about these two knights,” Damon said. “This is a true story. It’s the last sanctioned duel in medieval France between these two knights, one of whom claimed the other raped his wife, and they fought to the death. And so we saw it as a story of perspective.”
But according to the pair, the actual writing of the script was a long-delayed endeavor — and that’s where the movie that shot the two to Hollywood stardom comes in. Fallon broached the subject by acknowledging it had been about a quarter-century since Damon and Affleck had worked on a script together. Good Will Hunting ended up claiming best original screenplay at the Academy Awards after it was released.
“We were like unemployed broke guys. It took us forever to write that screenplay,” Damon said. “I think that kind of put us off writing again because we never thought we’d have the time. And I think we found writing this that we actually kind of picked up structure over the last 25 years of kind of making movies, and so it went a lot faster then. Then we also made the really good decision of getting a great writer to come with us,” referring to Holofcener.
After Fallon showed a picture of a young Affleck and Damon at the premiere of the movie at the Bow Tie Cinemas Ziegfeld Theater in New York City in 1997, Affleck added that he thought they “were just shocked that it all happened and wouldn’t have imagined getting another job,” at the time.
“Good Will Hunting was really just to make kind of a video cassette that was like an acting reel,” he said. “Like, we can’t get the job to show that we can do interesting stuff, so the whole thing was have a reel and show casting directors, and so we’ll write these parts for ourselves ... I think we were shocked that it even got released.”
Watch the full interview here: