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How Sylvester Stallone helped Matt Damon make Good Will Hunting

While he probably doesn't know it, Sylvester Stallone helped Matt Damon both write and star in Good Will Hunting, because Damon used his name in meetings.

Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting

When Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote the screenplay for drama movie Good Will Hunting in the early-mid 1990s, they were both virtually unknown and in their early 20s. Understandably, the screenplay was a hard sell. But even more so, was making the case that Damon should play the title role, with Affleck supporting. It’s one thing for a script to be written by unknowns, but it’s quite another for a fairly major Hollywood movie to star someone no one has heard of.

In 2016 at an awards gala (via Looper), Matt Damon credited one person with giving him faith that it could be done and a name he could use when making the argument “it’s been done – very successfully – before.” And that name was Sylvester Stallone.

Stallone wrote the screenplay for Rocky when he was a penniless struggling actor, and he came up against constant pressure for the movie to star a big name, instead of him. Stallone stood his ground and insisted that he be the one to play Rocky Balboa – and the rest, as they say, is history – as it is now widely regarded one of the best sports movies of all time.

Damon also stood firm against studio pressure, explaining, “Every time they said, ‘You can’t do this,’ we said, ‘Actually it’s been done once before [with Rocky].'” Damon added; “He [Stallone] had an incredible amount of courage, and he changed the course of our lives.”

Matt Damon would go onto roles in Saving Private Ryan, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and The Departed, as well as the Oceans Trilogy and the Bourne Trilogy. After a 24 year gap, Damon and Affleck collaborated on the screenplay for Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel in 2021 – which they both starred in, this time meeting little studio resistance, we’re sure.

Pay homage to Stallone by checking out our guide to the best action movies.