By the time Good Will Hunting was released in December 1997, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon weren’t quite unknowns, but they were a million miles away from being the A-list stars audiences have known them as ever since. The duo finished the screenplay in 1994, but kept getting turned down because no studio would agree to let them star in the movie as well as retaining the sole writing credit.
It was an assist from their Chasing Amy director Kevin Smith that got the project the green light, and they ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. It was the springboard that shot their respective careers into the stratosphere, and they’ve remained at the pinnacle of the industry for the last quarter of a century.
Damon co-wrote Gerry and Promised Land in the interim, while Affleck has had a hand in the scripts of all his directorial efforts to date, but they never sat down and penned anything together until Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, which comes to theaters on October 15.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, the longtime best buds explained how it had taken them 25 years to collaborate on another script, and why it ended up being an R-rated medieval drama set in 14th Century France, with Affleck laying it down.
“The goal was to get the work and then we started working and that was what we focused on. But we continued to collaborate and work together and show each other stuff. Then, this book came along, we found it, gave it to Matt, he gave it to me and we were both struck by this story of this incredible woman and what she did and her heroism. It just seemed so moving. Because a part of the story as conceived, trying to reveal the untold world of women that history didn’t record.”
Nicole Holofcener is also credited on The Last Duel, so it technically isn’t the first sole Affleck/Damon effort since Good Will Hunting. Maybe reconnecting over their early experiences will see the pair hammer out more writing gigs together in the future, even though both of them remain incredibly busy.