The A-list acting careers of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, as we know them, might never have happened if they hadn’t worked with Kevin Smith on 1997’s Chasing Amy. “Kevin saved Good Will Hunting,” Damon said in a recent interview the pair did with Entertainment Weekly. “We were dead in the water, and we would’ve lost it.”
Affleck agreed, adding, “We would have been the writers, but we wouldn’t have been the actors.” The two then revealed how indebted they are to Smith – who first worked with Affleck on 1995’s Mallrats and has since worked with both actors again on subsequent films, including 1999’s Dogma – for bringing the script to executive producer Joe Gordon and helping to convince everyone involved that Damon and Affleck could carry the movie in front of the camera.
And this is the first time Smith is receiving his long-overdue public thanks from the pair since, as Affleck jokingly admits, he forgot to thank Smith in not one but two different Oscar acceptance speeches. “I promised I would thank him if we ever got an Oscar, and promptly forgot,” Affleck said. “And then I told him if I ever win again, I swear to God, I’m going to thank you, and forgot again.” (Affleck won his first Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, which he won with Damon, for 1997’s Good Will Hunting, and then, he won his second Oscar as one of the producers for 2012’s Best Picture winner, Argo.)
Affleck and Damon’s interview also touches on their memories of the late, great Robin Williams, and how wonderful he was in working with the two relatively unknown actors at a time when he was one of the biggest movie stars in the world. “He would just do take after take because that beautiful brain of his would always come up with something different to do,” Damon remembered.
His method certainly worked as he delivered a beautiful performance as the caring therapist Sean Maguire in the romantic drama. Williams won the Oscar that year for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his disarming work, and Good Will Hunting has been regarded as one of the best films of the 1990s ever since.