In 1997, Matt Damon
and Ben Affleck
sneaked up on the film world with their screenwriting debut Good Will Hunting
, which, after netting nine Academy Award nods, went on to elicit Oscar wins for themselves (for original screenplay) as well as supporting actor Robin Williams
. So where stands the dynamic duo's follow-up?
"We actually [recently] started kicking around some ideas," says Damon, who notes that he and his writing partner are all too aware of the scrutiny under which their next screenplay will fall. "We want it to evolve organically, because we are going to get crushed with the next thing we write, no matter what. So we just want to make sure that we think it's good."
Screenplay evaluation is a major theme these days in the lives of Damon and Affleck, who, in conjunction with HBO and Miramax, are hosting an online screenplay competition called Project Greenlight. They also will serve as two of the three executive producers of an accompanying reality series (to air on HBO) chronicling the production of the winning film.
While Damon hopes that the contest's 29 runners-up will "either sign a movie deal somewhere or get agents," the actor/screenwriter concedes to TV Guide Online that none of those competing will be able to elude the Writers Guild of America strike which is threatening to hit in May.
"Anybody who sells their scripts is going to immediately be in the WGA, so they'll just join the strike," he acknowledges. "While I'm optimistic that it will get resolved, to me it looks like the strike is going to either be averted at the last moment, or be really bad, and go on for a while."
So, while he awaits his and Ben's next big thing, and prepares for Greenlight to bear some fruit, Damon has kept busy by adding Robert Redford, who cast him in this Friday's The Legend Of Bagger Vance, to the impressive list of directors under which he has worked a roster which includes Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan) and Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting).
"[Co-stars] Will [Smith] and Charlize [Theron], all of us were really happy to work with each other, but the chance to work with Redford, I think, is what got all of our attention," Damon, who underwent a 30-day crash course to learn to play golf for his role, suggests. "Tonally, Bagger Vance is different from other stuff that's out there it's this old-fashioned fairy tale-style fable. So it was not up to me or Will or Charlize to set that tone. It was up to Redford. In that regard, it was really his movie."