Their story reads like a feel-good movie, complete with a happy ending. Two childhood chums, both actors, concoct a script about a troubled college janitor with a skyrocketing IQ and the psychiatrist who chips away at the young man's tough-ened exterior.
In between writing and rewriting, the two fledgling writers appear in small roles in generally small movies. Undaunted, the determined duo try to get their script off the page and on the screen. Flash-forward to the Oscar ceremony in '97: The two good-looking pals woo the crowd with their enthusiastic acceptance speech for best screenplay. Two stars are born. Fade to black.Hey, not so fast, there. This story's deserving of a sequel. Certainly, it's only the beginning, by no means the end for two of today's hottest actors - and screenwriters - Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. After their "Good Will Hunting" win, the casting doors have flung open, and the demands for more scripts are coming in. And the two are taking full advantage of it.
Just last week, Damon opened in his biggest Hollywood project, Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan," and Affleck can be scene in the summer hit "Armageddon." And they are getting even more exposure with the video release of "Good Will Hunting," now in stores. The two team up again, a la "Good Will," for director Kevin Smith ("Clerks") in the upcoming "Dogma." Considering their celestial rise, it's only fitting that Damon and Affleck play angels in that film.
Before "Good Will Hunting," this talented duo starred in a number of movies together and apart. Here's a look at some of their work available on video:
- "School Ties" (1992). More than a few good hunks pop up in this thoughtful and impressive drama about a high school quarterback (Brendan Fraser) dodging anti-Semitism and snotty attitudes in a hoity-toity private high school, circa 1950. In addition to Damon (very good as a rich brat and eventual adversary of Fraser), there's Chris O'Donnell and, in a small role, Affleck. "Ties" slipped by audiences when it was released in 1992, due to poor marketing. If you're a fan of either Fraser or Damon, don't miss it. Rated PG.
- "Courage Under Fire" (1996). Damon took his supporting role as a guilt-plagued Desert Storm soldier a little too seriously and wound up with an eating disorder after filming was done. His suffering translated into a solid performance in a movie filled with great performances. Denzel Washington tries to root out the truth in the death of a captain (Meg Ryan) in a Desert Storm mission and gets an earful of conflicting info from survivors on that fateful mission. Lou Diamond Phillips is a standout as one of the macho soldiers in the unit. Powerful, literate and moving. Rated R.
- "The Good Old Boys" (1995). What a cast! What a long-winded movie. This TNT cable film directed, co-written by and starring Tommy Lee Jones is as slow as a cross-country cattle drive. Damon, looking a bit like Brad Pitt minus the goldilocks from "Legends of the Fall," plays the ambitious son of Frances McDormand (very good as usual). When his ne'r-do-well uncle (Jones) comes back to town, family tensions flare up again. A noble film, illustrating the demise of the wandering cowboy, that needs a good kick in the rear to get it moving. Not rated.
- "The Rainmaker" (1997). Damon aces his first major starring role in Francis Ford Coppola's well-made adaptation of the John Grisham novel. The supporting cast - including Danny DeVito, Mary Kay Place, Claire Danes and Mickey Rourke - is exceptional. Rudy Baylor (Damon) is a recent law-school grad hired by an ambulance-chasing firm. Rated PG-13.
- "Chasing Amy" (1997). After falling prey to the dreaded sophomore slump with "Mallrats," director Kevin Smith is back (after "Clerks") with a vengeance. The Gen-X filmmaker has not only hit his stride, he's created a great film. Every character, from the supporting cast to the two leads (Joey Lauren Adams and Affleck), is vividly brought to life in an unconventional romance between two comic book artists. Keep an eye peeled for Damon's cameo as a squidly agent. Rated R.
- "Phantoms" (1997). Here's my beef with Dean Koontz: He grabs us with a crackerjack set-up and then fails to deliver the goods. Such is the case with this dumb horror flick, based on one of his numerous best sellers. Affleck is wasted in the nothing role of the town sheriff, as is Peter O'Toole as an editor of a tabloid rag. Rated R.