Ben Affleck had a pretty great 2021. The actor and Oscar-winning filmmaker has been raking in award nominations, most recently from the Screen Actors Guild Awards, for his supporting turn in The Tender Bar, directed by fellow Batman George Clooney. He also earned raves for playing a hilariously debauched count in The Last Duel, which marked the first time he’d written a screenplay with Matt Damon (and also Nicole Holofcener) since Good Will Hunting a quarter century ago. Speaking of which, the two reflected on their big breakthrough during a sit down with Entertainment Weekly. In it, they wound up correct a big wrong: They finally thanked someone who was instrumental in getting it made: Kevin Smith.
Back then, Affleck had acted in both Mallrats and Chasing Amy, which also featured Damon in a bit part. (Both would soon team up in Smith’s Dogma.) But they weren’t yet hot commodities, and it was Smith who wound up ensuring they didn’t just sell the screenplay but act in it as well.
“Kevin saved Good Will Hunting,” Damon told EW. “We were dead in the water. And we would’ve lost it. It would’ve been made with other people in it, and we’d still be really angry I’m sure.”
“We would have been the writers, but we wouldn’t have been the actors,” Affleck added. “And the whole thing was we wanted to be actors. And he got it to [executive producer] Jon Gordon and got people to believe in it.”
Problem is, after the movie was made and became a huge success, they failed to pay it forward. “I promised him 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. So I owe him very much, and he did that. He believed. I remember he wrote me an email at the time and in typical Kevin fashion said, ‘I started your movie on the shitter. And I stayed on the whole time.’”
So there you have it. Without the guy who invented Bluntman and Chronic, you wouldn’t have Damon melting down as the late Robin Williams tells him, “It’s not your fault.”