In 1992, a prep school drama movie came along that launched the careers of many young actors – just as Dead Poets Society had done for the likes of Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard and Josh Charles in 1989. School Ties was the breakthrough movie for Chris O’Donnell, Cole Hauser, and Ben Affleck but the two main actors – who play rivals in the film – helped each other with their careers. Brendan Fraser plays a Jewish student at an elite New England boarding school who is bullied and ostracized, mainly by Matt Damon‘s Charlie.
Brendan Fraser recently explained how Damon helped him in his audition. “When I did my screen test for School Ties with Matt Damon, I was pretty fresh out of the academy. And it was a test, you know?” Fraser said in a recent interview with IMDb. “You’re challenged for a reason, to see if you have a place in this world, in this medium, in this format.”
“And I’ve got to say, it was Matt who I matched pitch with. I just knew inherently, not copy him, but run alongside, shoulder to shoulder,” Fraser said. “I think it worked. I got the job, so I have him to thank for that.”
Fraser continued explaining what the environment was like on the set of the teen movie; “When I met the guys, they were all hired already. In a way, they were already an ensemble. And David (Fraser’s character) is the odd man out, he’s the outsider looking in. That dynamic helped, I’m sure, but at the same time, we were young, hungry guys. And in the best possible way, we were competitive with one another, as would be any 17-year-old boys.”
Both Fraser and Damon went on to have hugely successful – but very different – careers. Given that Fraser is best known for comedy and adventure movies such as Encino Man, Airheads, George of the Jungle, and The Mummy – it is perhaps surprising that Fraser was the first of the two to win the Best Actor Oscar. But, of course, Damon still has plenty of time!