Last Duel, The: Matt Damon on Co-Writing with Ben Affleck

The upcoming film of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, directed by Ridley Scott, is the second time the actors have teamed to write a script since their work on the 1997 Good Will Hunting, which earned them the best original screenplay Oscar (at age 27).


Photo: Good Will Hunting

 

Matt Damn discussed how he wrote The Last Duel with his friend and fellow actor Ben Affleck, the first time the two have written together since their Oscar-winning work on Good Will Hunting.

On The Tonight Show Friday night, the writer, actor and producer briefly spoke about how he and Affleck had come back together to write for their upcoming film, which is directed by Ridley Scott. Adapted from Eric Jager’s novel The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France, the film recounts the story around a 1386 trial by combat, the last officially recognized judicial duel in France.

“It’s the first movie we’ve written in 25 years or something, and we wrote with another great writer named Nicole Holofcener,” Damon told host Jimmy Fallon.

Male and Female Perspective

“We saw it as a story of perspective, Ben and I wrote the male perspectives and Nicole wrote the female perspective.”

 

Matt Damon

Matt Damon as Jean de Carrouges in 20th Century Studios' THE LAST DUEL.

 

Damon elaborated while speaking to ET, saying that he and Affleck may “write a lot more in the future” after working on the new historical drama.

“We just found, after making movies for 30 years, that we actually learned something about structure along the way and the process went along a lot faster,” he said. “And so I think we’ll write a lot more in the future just because it didn’t turn out to be as time-consuming as we thought.”

It was a smoother process than how he and Affleck collaborated on their first co-film, Good Will Hunting, a script for which the duo won the 1998 Oscar for best original screenplay. “I think that writing process for Good Will Hunting was so inefficient,” Damon explained. “You know, because we didn’t really understand structure so we wrote thousands of pages.”

Photo: Good Will Hunting

The writer-producer said that they would “just write different scenes,” constantly asking, “‘Well, what if this happened?’” That resulted trying to “jam” disparate scenes together “into something that looked like a movie.”

Unemployed in 1997

“Back then, we didn’t have deadlines because nobody cared what we were doing, no one was waiting for the script, we were unemployed, so we literally had nothing else to do,” he said.

Damon and Affleck took a more structured approach, setting aside time each day, and building that writing time around other elements of their life, including their families. “Now we can build the time, it’s a little more structured,” he told ET. “Like, alright, let’s write from 10 to 2, you know, because we can drop the kids off and then we can pick the kids up.”