Ben Affleck and Matt Damon reflect on their teaming up after two decades for "The Last Duel"
by Ana Walia | Fri, 15 Oct 2021 20:35:00 GMT
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck teamed up after 20 years to write "The Last Duel". Image Source: Fox News 

Hollywood’s favorite bromance includes Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who met each other in the 1980s when their mothers introduced them to each other. The friends live merely two blocks away from each other and instantly started to bond over their love for sports and acting.

In one of his interviews, Ben Affleck shared, "Before Matt, I was by myself. Acting was a solo activity where I'd just go off and do something, act in a little TV show or something, and no one understood it. All of a sudden, I had this friend, Matt, and he gets it and wants to do it and thinks it's interesting and wants to talk about it. Soon both of us will be doing it. "

In his interview in 2019, Matt Damon recalled an incident from the school where Ben stood up for him in a fight, and that’s when Matt knew that Ben is a good friend to have. The two started to audition together for projects until they teamed up together for their own project "Good Will Hunting" in 1997. The movie helped the duo win an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay. The late actor Robin Williams, who went on to win an Oscar for his performance, also joined them.

Matt and Ben in "Good Will Hunting". Image Source: 

In no time, the actors-friends became household names for the characters they played on-screen and their friendship. Now, nearly two decades later, the best friends once again decide to come together as a team and write a script for "The Last Duel", which is directed and produced by Ridley Scott.

The movie, "The Last Duel", is a historical drama based on a book of the same name by author Eric Jager. The star cast of the movie includes Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck in supporting roles. The Last Duel was shot in France and Ireland from February to October 2020, with a small gap of a few months due to the pandemic.

"The Last Duel" movie's world premiere was held at the Venice Film Festival on September 10th, 2021, and it will have a worldwide release on October 15th, 2021. The movie received a lot of positive responses from the critics, who also praised the actors for their spectacular performances as a knight, a squire, a knight’s wife, and, Count Pierre d'Alençon, respectively. The critics especially mentioned that it’s Jodie Comer who steals the show from the men in the movie.

It has almost been twenty-five years since "Good Will Hunting" was released, but the duo decided to return as a team to co-write the script for The Last Duel along with staring in it. During an appearance on  The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon with fellow co-writer Nicole Holofcener, the longtime friends and collaborators revealed why there was such a big-time gap between Good Will Hunting and The Last Duel.

Damon said, "Good Will Hunting took us so long. We were like unemployed, broke guys. It took us forever to write that screenplay. I think we wrote thousands and thousands of pages. We didn’t really know what we were doing, and I think that kind of put us off writing again because we never thought we’d have the time. I think we found when writing [The Last Duel] that we actually kind of picked up structure over the last 25 years of making movies, so it went a lot faster. "

Matt Damon plays Jean de Carrouges in "The Last Duel". Image Source: ePrime Feed

The actor also praised the co-writer, Nicole Holofcener, for her contribution to the story as well. "We also made the perfect decision to get a great writer to come with us", he added. Ben recalled when he and Matt became the first and youngest people to ever win the Academy Award and said, "You wouldn’t imagine that those two idiots would still be around."

The co-writers revealed that Nicole authored only the third act of the film, which is the most powerful from Marguerite's perspective. When it came to working on the script with Damon and Affleck, Holofcener said, "I basically created the third act, but they obviously had a role in it since it had to be part of the overall movie. Matt and Ben had already started writing it in this three-part point of view type of fashion," she continued, "and they asked me to come and write the last section, and I was pleased."

They also said that, unlike Ben and Matt, who used Jager's 2004 book as a reference for their film, Holofcener was writing a unique screenplay because Marguerite's perspective, like that of all women in the 14th century, remained mostly unreported. "The males of the time...took very meticulous notes on what they were all up to," Damon explained, "but they didn't record what the women were up to." Nicole had to build Jodie's and Marguerite's worlds entirely from scratch.

"I read the script and was so intrigued by the structure and the concept of there being three viewpoints but, ultimately, only one reality," Jodie Comer revealed. The ethics underlying the story were "quite considered," according to Ben Affleck.

"One of the points we intended to make was how corrupt and morally bankrupt institutions, as well as misogynist institutions, generate and produce people who embody those ideals," Ben stated. Last but not least, Jodie concluded, "The unfortunate part about this story is that you could say it for any period of history. They're incredibly sensitive issues, and they need to be treated with care...especially when it comes to rape scenes."

Jodie Comer plays Marguerite in "The Last Duel". Image Source: Den of Geek

Another interesting revelation that comes from the movie is the fact that the friends had been set to share their very first on-screen kiss for the movie, but it’s no longer in the movie. Ben Affleck, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, described the scene; "In the original version of that scene, the way that ceremony actually took place was that you kissed everybody on the mouth. And we had that in the script."

The actor further explained that the particular scene never made it to the final script, so the audience had to wait for Matt and Ben to kiss on-screen. Ben further added that the director "thought it would be distracting, and his instincts are pretty good."

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck on the Tonight Show. Source: PEOPLE

Matt Damon added, "Yeah, the two characters really hate each other, and that was really fun. In fact, the scene where I kneel before him, Ben just improvised this thing where I started to say my line, and he just interrupted me and goes, 'Closer.' And I had to kind of get up and kneel again in front of him. And that was just—he just did that and just kind of blurted that out, and it wasn't in the script. "

The longtime pals are still close friends in real life — and even brought the work home with them. "I actually have to kneel before him," Damon joked. "Once he started directing, that’s actually how I had to get into his house."