If anyone should wonder what film launched Ben Affleck into stardom, there’s no other answer besides Good Will Hunting. The Academy Award-nominated film featured an all-star cast, including Matt Damon, Minnie Driver and the late Robin Williams. The film grossed over $225 million during its run in the theaters and gained numerous accolades and critical acclaim. Affleck and Damon worked on the screenplay together prior to pitching it to several studio executives.
At the time, Damon and Affleck were unknown actors. Initially, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt were tapped to play the lead roles. Thankfully, Affleck and Damon were able to prove themselves worthy of playing the main characters. The movie was released in 1998 and became one of the biggest success stories in Hollywood, earning Williams his first Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor. Speaking to Boston Magazine, Affleck reflected on the film’s outcome and the response it’s gotten nearly two decades after its debut.
Ben Affleck will always appreciate Good Will Hunting
The actor discussed how his experience on the film was the catalyst for his later career as an actor and a director. “When I look at my own career, my life, and particularly directing, it’s all rooted in this experience,” the actor told the magazine. “Realizing that the actors need to take responsibility for their performances, and that there is no right answer and that it’s just about discovering things. All that came from Gus [Van Sant, Good Will Hunting‘s director].”
Affleck said that after the movie was completed, he thought that he and Damon could “chill” and not do projects together. Instead, the two now have their own production studio, Pearl Street Films, and Affleck has directed Damon in other projects.
In a separate interview with BBC, Ben Affleck explained that the movie started off as an action-comedy. After receiving some advice from Castle Rock president Rob Reiner, Damon and Affleck edited down the script. “It was kinda Beverly Hills Cop-ish, y’know, banana in the tailpipe, he was always being chased around by like government agents and stuff,” Affleck recalled, “and they said, ‘Just take that stuff out and make it about the friends and the therapist and the girl.’ And we did, it was good advice.” The Justice League star also joked about Damon dying the tips of his hair blonde for the role.
Though Damon and Affleck have been friends since they were teenagers, they are still the subject of various false tabloid stories. In February 2019, Star reported that Affleck’s drinking was causing a rift in the pair’s friendship. An alleged source claimed that Damon was keeping his distance from Affleck since they could no longer be “drinking buddies.” Gossip Cop looked into the rumor and discovered it was false. Damon had stated on several occasions that he would stay by Affleck’s side despite his addiction problems.