What Damon & Affleck Learned From Good Will Hunting

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Matt Damon explains how he and Ben Affleck learned from the success of Good Will Hunting while writing the upcoming Ridley Scott film, The Last Duel.

Actor and writer Matt Damon has discussed what he and Ben Affleck learned from writing the 1997 film, Good Will Hunting, and how it helped them to pen their upcoming film, The Last Duel. Directed by Gladiator and Prometheus auteur, Ridley Scott, The Last Duel is based on the novel by Eric Jager. The film follows a 14th century French knight, Jean de Carrouges (Damon), as he challenges his best friend and squire, Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), to a trial by combat for the rape of his wife Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer). The true story depicts the last legally sanctioned duel in medieval France under the reign of King Charles VI (played here by Alex Lowther).


As well as starring in the film, close friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have reunited to write the screenplay, for their first writing collaboration since Good Will Hunting. The 1997 film won the pair the Oscar award for Best Original Screenplay, with both actors only in their mid-twenties at the time. The hit drama, which also starred Robin Williams, helped launch the two into stardom. Since then, the pair have mostly focused on acting as they quickly became household names, though Affleck’s efforts as screenplay writer on his own directorial projects, Gone Baby Gone and The Town, have been well-received. Ridley Scott’s new historical epic sees the writing partnership return, alongside screenwriter Nicole Holofcener.

Related: The Last Duel News & Updates: Everything We Know

In a 20th Century Studios press conference, Damon was asked what he and Affleck had learned from Good Will Hunting, and the actor-writer explained their slight fear of writing. Damon discusses the time-consuming work ethic the pair had, as their inexperience led to thousands of unused pages being eliminated from the final script. He goes on to say that the 25-year career they have had since in the movie industry has helped them learn how to structure a creative process. Damon also praises Holofcener, whom he calls an “incredible writer,” for helping them to pen the screenplay. The collaborating writer, who was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2019 for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, was a valuable asset to the team. Read what Damon said below:

“I don’t know. That’s a really good question. I think we were kind of afraid of writing. ‘Cause we were so inefficient. It was so time-consuming the first time we did it ‘cause we didn’t know what we were doing. And it took us, literally, years. And we wrote thousands and thousands of pages that we, basically, scrunched into a 130-page screenplay. But I think by just doing movies for 25 years, just kind of by osmosis, we figured out structure. So, it turned out to be really efficient, the process. And also begging an incredible writer like Nicole to come help us was also a really good idea, too. That definitely streamlined the process.”

Damon and Affleck’s return to writing is heavily anticipated. The pair were skyrocketed into the industry when Good Will Hunting took the awards scene by storm in the late 1990s, and their subsequent long careers as Hollywood heavyweights brings years of experience to the table this time around. Many elements are different in this process compared to their original effort. The film is a book adaptation with a large creative budget, and a much less modern and relatable subject matter, though the writers may bring the sensitivity and weight that earned Good Will Hunting its standout moments to this historical drama.

The chances of The Last Duel being an awards contender are heavily stacked in the film’s favor. Alongside the trio of screenwriting talent is an all-star cast of prestigious actors, including double Oscar nominee, Adam Driver, and Emmy winner, Jodie Comer. What critics and audiences make of the finished film remains to be seen, though the long-awaited screenwriting return of Damon and Affleck promises to be a thrilling effort.

The Last Duel releases in theaters on October 15th.

Next: Every Upcoming Ben Affleck Movie

Source: 20th Century Studios

  • The Last Duel (2021)Release date: Oct 15, 2021

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