Matt Damon Says Kevin Smith Saved ‘Good Will Hunting’: ‘We Were Dead in the Water’

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In the midst of his press tour for “The Tender Bar,” Ben Affleck recently sat down for an interview with a very sympathetic journalist: Matt Damon. The actor was interviewed by his childhood friend and longtime collaborator for EW, covering “The Last Duel” and Affleck’s decision to walk away from superhero movies. But as was inevitable with the two of them, the conversation eventually turned to “Good Will Hunting.”

The 1997 film launched Affleck and Damon into Hollywood stardom, winning them an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and establishing them both as bona fide leading men. While reflecting on the film’s success with Affleck, Damon said the film would not have been made without the help of their mutual friend Kevin Smith.

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Smith famously helped them by showing the “Good Will Hunting” script to his then-patron Harvey Weinstein, who went on to produce the film. But according to Damon, Smith deserves even more credit than he gets for the film’s success. “Kevin also saved ‘Good Will Hunting,'” Damon told Affleck. “This is not a small side note. He is the reason ‘Good Will Hunting’ got made. We were dead in the water, all the offers had evaporated.”

Affleck echoed the sentiment, and regrets that he never thanked Smith on the film industry’s biggest stage. “I promised him I would thank him if we ever got an Oscar and promptly forgot,” Affleck recalled. “And then I told him, ‘If I ever win again I swear to God I’m going to thank you.’ Forgot again.”

While Kevin Smith never got his Oscar shout out, Damon and Affleck reprised their “Good Will Hunting” roles for Smith’s 2001 comedy “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.” A memorable scene shows them on set filming a fictional sequel titled “Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season.” Affleck still has kind words about Smith, calling him “funny and smart and charming.”

Affleck began his career as a frequent collaborator of Smith’s, appearing in seven of the director’s films. He was joined by Matt Damon in “Chasing Amy,” “Dogma,” “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” and most recently, “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.”

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