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Pay attention to your desires

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were only ten years old when they were already friends and discussed the latest acting projects in the corner of a cafeteria in Boston.

"Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are childhood friends. They appeared together in Chasing Amy and Good Will Hunting, for which Damon received a Best Actor nomination. This is their first Academy Award." So intoned the announcer as Affleck and Damon, so boyish-looking at 25 and 27 in their plain tuxedos that they may as well have been 14, headed to the stage in 1998 to accept their Oscars for Best Original Screenplay, the film they decided to write together to give themselves the sort of material that interested them having worked out to the tune of nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Like a proud dad, co-star Robin Williams—a winner that night for Best Supporting Actor and, Affleck later said, a major factor in the movie getting made in the first place—gave them hearty hugs. "We're just really two young guys who were fortunate enough to be involved with a lot of great people…. There's no way we're doing this in less than 20 seconds," Affleck gushed excitedly as they dissolved into their thank-yous, with extra-special shout-outs going to their mothers ("Matt's mom, the most beautiful woman here," Affleck agreed), Damon's dad and the city of Boston—the setting for both Good Will Hunting and the formative years of Matt and Ben's extra-special friendship.

First, let's clear up a few things: Damon was barely in Chasing Amy (which legitimately starred Affleck) and the 1992 drama School Ties was actually their first movie together (and Damon had the much bigger role). And yes, we know, the majority of the Harvard-set Good Will Hunting action took place in Cambridge, Mass., which, though considered part of the greater Boston metropolitan area, is a different city. But none of those persnickety details changes the fact that the absolute best thing about Affleck and Damon's friendship—which began when they were 8 and 10, respectively, and living a couple streets away from each other in Cambridge—is that it's always been the real deal, not some Hollywood construct to make for a better Good Will Hunting origin story.

And four decades later, with Damon celebrating his 50th birthday on Oct. 8, they remain the best of friends. Damon may have ended up sequestered in Ireland with his wife and daughters during the beginning of the pandemic in March, but before everything shut down he and Affleck had enjoyed their annual winter ski trip to Montana with their families.



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