Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have one of the longest-lasting friendships in Hollywood, and the two do not take such a relationship lightly. In an interview on Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace, Damon admitted that he and Affleck have “been bizarrely close for a long time,” but that has simply turned their friendship into one of the “the three most significant partnerships in [his] life.” Even though they took a break from being “Matt and Ben,” they’re returning to the screen together, hoping “to make every second count” while they can.
They were childhood friends
Both Damon and Affleck were raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, living just a couple blocks from one another. They first met when Damon was 10 and Affleck was eight, and they quickly became friends thanks to their shared interest in acting. The two would support one another’s acting ambitions, and their friendship was strengthened because they both took it seriously from a young age.
When Damon was 16 and Affleck was just 14, the two traveled together to New York to audition for roles. Affleck reflected on these adventures, saying, “We’d take the train. Or sometimes we’d even take the airplane, back when there was the Eastern Shuttle or People’s Express. It cost like $20 to fly and you could smoke on the plane. We were smoking like idiots because we thought we were really supposed to be grown-ups. It was pitiful.”
The two boys really were there for each other as they struggled to make it big. They even opened a joint bank account so that if either didn’t have the means to get to their next audition, they could dip into their shared funds. They knew that neither was going to have to try and make something of themselves alone, as the other would always be there to offer support.
Good Will Hunting was their breakthrough
While the two boys would eventually attend separate universities, they maintained their close friendship despite the distance between them. While attending Harvard, Damon began penning the script for Good Will Hunting for a playwriting class, and it was this project that made him turn to Affleck for help. “Matt said, ‘Look, will you help me write this? I’m not sure what it is or where to go.’ So we started writing it sort of back and forth,” Affleck explained.
“We came up with this idea of the brilliant kid and his townie friends, where he was special and the government wanted to get their mitts on him. And it had a very Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run sensibility, where the kids from Boston were giving the NSA the slip all the time,” Affleck continued. Little did they know that the film would serve as their breakout into the world of Hollywood.
They sold the script to Miramax in 1995 and also starred in the film. It was so well-received that Damon and Affleck earned their very first Oscars for Best Screenplay. “We were younger than we felt,” Damon explained of the moment. “I was 22 and Ben was 20 when we first started writing it. And then it came out when I was 27 and Ben was 25. I mean, Ben’s still the youngest writer to ever win an Oscar for screenwriting.”
After that, Damon and Affleck would go in separate directions, stepping away from writing together to pursue their own careers but maintaining their friendship along the way. In fact, throughout their careers, Damon and Affleck can be seen starring alongside one another in Dogma (1999) and making guest appearances in films like The Third Wheel (2002) and Jersey Girl (2004). However, their next true side-by-side reunion would not come until 2021’s The Last Duel.
Their friendship means a lot to both of them
It was a mutual feeling, going separate ways. Affleck explained, “For a while, we thought maybe we should chill and just do other stuff, and not be Matt and Ben, Matt and Ben.” However, over time, Damon reflected on their friendship and decided to make a change. “And Ben and I, I called him and I said, ‘Look man, you know, we were talking about [working together more] and it’s been 25 years or something since Good Will Hunting like… what are we doing?'” he said. “Why aren’t we working together more often?'”
Affleck was very close to Damon’s father, Kent, growing up, so when he passed away in 2017 at the age of 74, it had a lasting effect on both men. “It’s like it changed something in us. I think and you know, you start to really…you start to see the end game and you start to feel like I want to make every second count,” Damon explained. “I don’t want to fritter away time anymore.”
After that, Damon and Affleck chose to open their own production company, Artists Equity, in November 2022. Their first production was Air, which saw them both as the Nike sports executives who signed Michael Jordan to his historic brand deal in 1984. Things have come full circle, it seems, as Affleck explained. “We have our company together, we’re developing together. And Matt lives down the street from me like he used to. His kids are living with him, the way we used to live with our folks. The only difference is that we have pools.”
While they can still be seen individually in their own projects, with Damon starring in Oppenheimer and Affleck starring in the new Flash movie, they still intend to work together in the future.