Golden Globe Moment: When Matt Damon Became "Matt Damon!", 1998

by Ana Maria Bahiana December 28, 2017
Actor Matt Damon, Golden Globe winner, and Ben Affleck wit thier Golden Globe for the screnplay of Good Will Hunting, 1998

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23 years ago, before he was the lean, mean, muscled killing machine that is Jason Bourne - and a star and key power player in the industry - Matt Damon had caught our eye as a razor-thin, drug-addicted Army medic in director Edward Zwick’s Courage Under Fire. The Boston native already had entries in his filmography – a bit part in the indie hit (and Julia Roberts’ feature film debut) Mystic Pizza, some TV work and more substantial roles in School Ties and Geronimo: An American Legend. The sheer physicality of his performance in Courage, however, raised everybody’s awareness – watch out, there’s new, real talent in this town.

One year later we met Matt in person for the first time. 1997 was a very busy year for him – in April he was seen in a bit part in Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy; in November he starred in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rainmaker; and in December there he was again, playing the lead in Good Will Hunting, directed by Gus Van Sant from a script written by Matt and his longtime friend Ben Affleck. We caught up with Matt at a very special time, in the last months of the year. “It’s daunting”, he told us about the struggle of being a young professional trying to find a place in a highly competitive industry. “We are a cynical generation but it’s idealistic too. We’re willing to run into brick walls until somebody opens a door for us.”

Eight weeks later Matt (and Ben Affleck) would be onstage at the Beverly Hilton accepting a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for Good Will Hunting (Damon was nominated for his performance, as well). Other accolades would follow, including an Academy Award. The brick wall, all of a sudden had a wide open door.