Why Matt Damon and Ben Affleck Drunkenly Taped Themselves Imitating Morgan Freeman and Robert DeNiro
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck became Oscar winners after Good Will Hunting. The longtime best friends’ script changed the course of Hollywood and made them both A-listers. Damon went on to star in films such as Stillwater and the Bourne Identity movies. Additionally, Affleck landed significant roles in Pearl Harbor and The Accountant.
In a 2013 interview, Damon revealed how he and Affleck used two Hollywood legends to flesh out their story in the beginning.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck initially thought Morgan Freeman and Robert DeNiro would star in ‘Good Will Hunting’
Good Will Hunting was the first script Damon and Affleck wrote. The idea for the film came after the Ford v Ferrari star took a playwriting class at Harvard University. After the course ended, Damon asked Affleck to help him create the rest of the movie.
Once they began working on the film, the Surburbicon star told Boston Magazine that the script for Good Will Hunting went through several changes. Damon said the early draft “had a very ‘Beverly Hills Cop,’ ‘Midnight Run’ sensibility.” He also said that he and Affleck imagined actors Morgan Freeman and Robert DeNiro as characters. While reworking the script, the friends drank alcohol and impersonated Freeman and DeNiro.
“We would improvise and drink like six or 12 beers or whatever and record it with a tape recorder,” Damon said. “At the time, we imagined the professor and the shrink would be Morgan Freeman and [Robert] De Niro, so we’d do our imitations of Freeman and De Niro. It was kind of hopelessly naive and probably really embarrassing in that respect.”
Ultimately, the roles of Will’s psychologist and the professor went to Robin Williams and Stellan Skarsgård, respectively.
Matt Damon shared his favorite Robin Williams scene in ‘Good Will Hunting’
Although he wasn’t Damon and Affleck’s first choice, Williams’ performance in Good Will Hunting received multiple acclaims. After the film premiered in 1997, the Mrs. Doubtfire star won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1998.
Many fans recall Williams’ memorable performance as Sean MacGuire. Since its debut, Damon has said that the comedian ad-libbed several lines. One of the actors’ amazing improvised scenes was when Williams talked about his wife farting in bed. In the film, Damon said his co-star’s final line, “Son of a b*tch. He stole my line,” was an ad-lib.
Damon and Ben Affleck reunited to write ‘The Last Duel’
Following their 1998 Oscars win for Good Will Hunting, Damon and Affleck’s careers went in different directions. However, they remained friends and supported each other publicly. Most recently, Damon sounded off on Affleck rekindling with his ex, Jennifer Lopez.
After 30 years, the Boston natives reunited to write their upcoming movie, The Last Duel. In an appearance on the WTF podcast, Damon explained why he and Affleck took so long to write another script.
“That was what was really funny,” he told host Marc Maron. “We hadn’t written for so long because the assumption was we didn’t have the time, because Good Will Hunting took us so long. We spent our adult lives making movies, so we wrote really fast because we actually, just by osmosis over the last 25 or 30 years, understand structure now.”
The Last Duel premieres in theaters this Oct.