It’s been 24 years since Matt Damon and Ben Affleck won Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting, a surprise hit that also won Robin Williams his only Oscar. The actors have worked together in the two decades since, including in Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Jersey Girl (and occasionally even non-Kevin Smith projects), but not as writers — until The Last Duel, Ridley Scott’s historical drama that comes out next month (they co-wrote it with Academy Award nominee Nicole Holofcener).
Why did it take them so long? Besides the whole “getting together with Jennifer Lopez, then breaking up with Jennifer Lopez, then getting back together with Jennifer Lopez years later” thing.
“I would attribute a lot of it to the fact that Good Will Hunting took us so long to write because we didn’t really know what we were doing,” Damon told EW. “We had no deadline; it’s not like anyone was waiting for it. We were unemployed. We hadn’t ever taken a class on how to structure a screenplay, so structure was definitely not our strong suit. What we really understood were the characters, so we ended up writing thousands of pages of scenes where we’d just make up a scene idea. We’d write that scene and then we crammed it all together into something that looked like a screenplay. Both of us thought it would be so consuming to write together again, we just didn’t bother.”
Affleck added that Damon is “one of the few people I really trust and believe has my best interests at heart and gives good feedback. We’ve often talked about movies and collaborated in that way.” It’s fine, guys. You can give the real reason it took so long to write a follow-up to Good Will Hunting: lengthy trips to Dunkin.
The Last Duel opens on October 15.