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‘These Are The Guys Who Made Good Will Hunting’: Ben Affleck And Matt Damon’s Air Co-Star Recalls Trying To Keep It Cool On Set

They make up one of Hollywood’s most enduring friendships and professional partnerships, so it’s not a shock that Chris Messina fanboyed at the thought of working with both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. 

The Mindy Project star had frequently collaborated with Ben Affleck in the past, appearing as a CIA operative in Affleck’s Best Picture-winning film Argo and co-starring alongside the actor-director in the 2016 crime drama Live by Night. But Messina’s performance as sports agent David Falk in the Air Jordans origin story Airwas the first time he got to join forces with Affleck and his longtime famous pal Matt Damon. 

The thought of working with the Good Will Hunting dynamic duo clearly tickled Messina, as he told People he had to try “to remain cool” while rehearsing onset with the two actors: 

I was trying to keep cool because I had become tighter with Ben and I had spent some time with Matt along the way, but I don’t remember if I’d ever been with them together. So I was remaining cool in rehearsals — or at least I was trying to remain cool, but inside I was like, ‘These are the guys that made Good Will Hunting and now I’m in a rehearsal, just me and the two of them and we’re talking about the script.’ It was really exciting and slightly nerve-wracking, but they’re so cool, as you would imagine.

In Air, Affleck — who also directed the biographical sports drama — plays Nike’s co-founder and CEO Phil Knight, while Damon takes on the role of the brand’s basketball talent scout Sonny Vaccaro. 

It’s the buddies’ first onscreen reunion since 2021’s The Last Duel, which they also co-wrote, and the ninth film they’ve been in together, along with Field of Dreams, School Ties, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot and, of course, Good Will Hunting

Messina toldPeople that despite the pair’s Oscar-winning bona fides — Ben and Matt famously won an Academy Award for Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting, Damon has been nominated four other times and Ben also has that big Argo win —there was “no ego” from either performer on Air:

It was really kind of inspiring to see how there was no ego. They were making this movie — they loved the movie, they loved the process, they love each other, and they just were there trying to make the best movie they could. So if Ben had an idea or Matt had an idea, there was no ego. It was just the best idea wins and they seem to be really enjoying being together, making a film.

Messina also said Affleck had “the highest cinematic IQ of anyone [he] ever met” and that the filmmaker created “a really, really fun set” for the sports film: 

He wants you to fly, and it’s a really, really fun set to be a part of. When he calls, I didn’t need to read the script. I just say, yeah, sure. When do you want me to be there?

Clearly Affleck’s approach worked: Air scored two 2024 Golden Globe nominations, one for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and one for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Damon’s performance.

You, too, can join Chris Messina in fanboying over Ben and Matt’s onscreen reunion in Air, by streaming it with an Amazon Prime Video subscription

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