‘The Last Duel’: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck Sought Feedback from Jodie Comer and Adam Driver While Writing the Film

Best-friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck reunited to write a movie 25 years after the success of their first writing venture Good Will Hunting. As a result, we have The Last Duel set to release on Oct. 15.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, the duo spoke about writing together after a long gap and the addition of a third member to their writing team. 

Ben Affleck, in a blue suit with a blue shirt, and Matt Damon, in a black t-shirt and black leather jacket, at an event in 2015.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon | Michael Tran/FilmMagic

What is the ‘The Last Duel’ about?

Based on a book of the same name by Eric Jager, The Last Duel is a period drama inspired by true events of 14th century France. The movie, on the face of it, is about the last sanctioned duel in France. But the semi-fictional account looks at the story behind the trial by combat. More importantly, it looks at the woman who defied society to stand up for herself. 

Jodie Comer plays the role of Marguerite de Carrouges who accuses her husband’s friend Jacques Le Gris, played by Adam Driver, of sexually assaulting her. When people begin questioning Marguerite, Jean de Carrouges — Marguerite’s husband — played by Damon, challenges Le Gris to a trial by combat. 

Affleck also stars in the movie as Count Pierre d’Alençon, the one who organizes the duel. Directed by Ridley Scott, the movie looks at the power dynamics between men and women in medieval France. It examines the role that power and pride play in society and raises the important point of believing women. All of these, seemingly the troubles of 14th century Europe, that in reality are still relevant today.

Damon and Affleck wrote the screenplay of the movie with Nicole Holofcener

While Damon first read the book, he didn’t immediately decide to write the screenplay. It was Affleck who suggested that. Diving into the writing process, the duo soon realized that they needed a third perspective besides theirs for the movie. Especially for Marguerite, who is the central character in the movie and has a side in this story previously untold.

That is when Affleck reached out to Holofcener, who is an independent filmmaker and writer. 

Damon and Affleck brought Holofcener on board for Marguerite’s part specifically but she ended up writing the screenplay with them and now, also serves as a producer on the movie. Though this was not the only help that the duo sought when it came to writing the screenplay of the movie.

The movie’s lead actors, Comer and Driver also gave their inputs to the writing.

Adam Driver and Jodie Comer helped with the writing through their feedbacks

Damon and Affleck appreciated Driver and Comer’s initiative to bring their own point of view to their characters. 

“The hardest two parts to play were Jodie’s[Comer], principally, and Adam’s[Driver]. We fooled with that stuff endlessly, tinkering and talking about it and trying to massage it and worried about it,” Affleck said. “Then here show up these two actors who just make it work.”

The two noted that Comer and Driver understood their characters well enough to contribute to their lines in the film.

“I sat with Adam[Driver] for hours, and I’d go, ‘What does it feel like you should say here?’ If something’s not working for you, usually a really dialed-in actor will be able to go, ‘It feels like this,’ and give us something that we can take back and tinker with. They’re definitely a part of the process too,” Damon said. 

The actors helped the trio refine the writing on the movie and Damon and Affleck commended that effort.

“You fall in love with them as a writer because you’re so grateful,” Damon said.

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