It’s taken a long time for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to write another script together, with Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel coming to theaters on Friday, 24 years after Good Will Hunting arrived and ultimately led to the duo nabbing an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Of course, the childhood friends have remained close friends and regular collaborators on either side of the camera since then, but they just didn’t settle on the right project to crack together. An R-rated medieval drama set in 14th Century France was hardly the obvious choice, but The Last Duel has been winning strong reviews since premiering at the Venice Film Festival.
The Oscar-winning A-listers ended up sharing the screenplay credit with Nicole Holofcener, and in a new interview with SlashFilm she reveals how she ended up being brought on board to write almost the entire third act.
“Matt and Ben had already started writing and had decided to write it in this three-part point of view kind of way. And they asked me to come and write the last part. And I was thrilled. They did not have to beg me. And then I would send pages to them and we’d sit down together and work on each other’s scenes. I basically wrote the third act, but they also had a hand in it. Because it had to be a part of the whole movie. And when smart writers have ideas, one should take them. And so, between Jodie and them, it was really collaborative. Really collaborative with all the actors too.
So, sometimes, we wrote apart, some together. And we wanted to exploit the fact that, historically, people are in many ways, largely accustomed to women being secondary and tertiary characters. So that it would seem out of the ordinary. And she was willing to play that and makes the reveal, I think, so much more powerful and elegant, to see the difference between a essentially two-dimensional person, and a fully-realized, three-dimensional human being.”
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The Last Duel tells its story from multiple viewpoints, with Damon and Affleck largely handling the male characters. When it came to writing in the mindset of Jodie Comer’s Marguerite de Carrouges, you can understand why they deemed Holofcener a much better candidate to tackle themes of systemic misogyny and sexism than a pair of middle-aged multi-millionaires.