From being extras in Field of Dreams, to being the youngest recipients of Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting, and now Air, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have transcended the dream of becoming famous alongside your best friend.
Speaking with People recently about their newest film Air, they both had nothing but supportive and memorable things to say about each other, with Damon calling his and Affleck’s relationship “everything to me”.
“It’s been really helpful to check in with Ben throughout this whole surreal process over the last 25 years,” Damon shared. “I think the shock of becoming famous is so… I mean, that messed me up for a couple years.”
“Because the whole world just starts to treat you differently,” The Martian actor added. “And so your subjective experience changes. It’s like somebody rewrites your code in the Matrix, but just your code.”
Affleck showed support right back to his fellow Massachusetts native, as well as his family, saying their friendship “has meant the world” to him.
“It’s not just Matt. It’s Matt’s dad who I adore and love enormously. He passed away recently,” he said. “And his mom and stepdad, his brother. His kids, who just came to the premiere and made me want to burst into tears because they’re so beautiful and grown up and amazing. You get to be part of somebody’s whole life in that way. It’s been an enormous gift.”
Ben and Matt have been friends since they were 8 and 10, respectively. They’ve had each other’s back from the start, with Damon remembering a time where Ben stood up to a kid bullying him.
“I remember that was like a big moment,” Damon said of the incident on Conan in 2019. “He will put himself in a really bad spot for me. This is a good friend.”
Even regarding their careers, Ben says Matt was the only one who understood what he was trying to accomplish and wanted to embark on his journey to Hollywood stardom together.
“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. None of the other kids knew what it was I did, how it worked, or anything,” Affleck remembered while talking with Parade in 2007. “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 are doing it.”
But it wasn’t until 1994, when Damon was attending Harvard University and Affleck was at the University of Vermont, that they decided to work together to write a movie. Matt had been writing a script for one of his classes about a Boston kid who was extremely intelligent but ran with a crowd of delinquent friends. Sound familiar?
“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,” Ben told Boston Magazine. “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.”
Although it ended up playing out a little differently, Ben and Matt were able to finish their screenplay for Good Will Hunting, which wouldn’t hit the theaters until four years after they began writing it.
More than twenty years and a couple Oscars later, they’re back at it, and bigger than ever having their own production company, Artists Equity with Redbird Capital Partners, and hitting the big screen with their latest joint film Air.
The Nike biopic is in theaters now and has nothing but stellar reviews.