“It doesn’t help to turn away when you’ve had your best friend by your side in the spotlight for over 20 years.” Ben Affleck sums up how important the deep friendship between him and Matt Damon is. The two stars grew up together and in 1997 they jointly won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay for “Good Will Hunting”. 24 years later, the best Hollywood buddies wrote a script together for the first time and are both in the film. “The Last Duel” is about a knight’s wife (Damon) who accuses the noble squire Jacques of raping her. Whereupon the French King Charles VI. (Affleck) orders the last knight duel in France in the Middle Ages. The fight to the death should prove guilt or innocence.
Ben Affleck: It is the true story of a great woman named Marguerite de Carrouges who had the courage to pillory her rapist and demand justice. As a woman, she challenges a powerful man at great personal risk. It’s a really feminist film.
KURIER: Something like “MeToo” in the Middle Ages?
Ben Affleck: Yes, exactly. That is why the topic is so relevant today.
Matt Damon: I had known the book the film was based on since 2011. I thought it was fascinating, but we didn’t have the rights yet. Until the time finally came.
As men, how could you convey the women’s perspective so well?
Matt Damon: In which we only wrote from the point of view of the men in the film. For the female perspective, we worked with screenwriter Nicole Holofcener. She wrote almost the entire third part by herself, because it almost exclusively tells Marguirite’s side.
Ben Affleck: Apart from that, I also consider myself a feminist, by the way.
Matt Damon: Is that why you got the blonde wig in the film?
Ben Affleck: I just wanted to wear a wig! Seriously, I have a deep empathy for Marguerite and her fate. Above all, it’s a true story!
What was it like to write a script together again after a quarter of a century?
Matt Damon: We were a lot more effective than the first time. We wrote thousands of pages for Good Will Hunting because we didn’t really know what we were doing. After 30 years of film sets, we’ve got the hang of it! We were both amazed that we were done after a good six weeks.
Ben Affleck: I totally shocked Matt when I presented him with an outline at the beginning.
Matt Damon: Yes, that’s right. I usually write a lot more efficiently on my own – without that albatross around my neck.
Ben Affleck: Thank you too! (laughs)
The knights of the Middle Ages are always portrayed as the prototype of the cavalier. As men of honor who would sacrifice their lives for innocent women. Your film puts these men in a completely different light!
Ben Affleck: It’s all just a historical illusion. The fact is that men denied women all basic rights at the time. No cavaliers! The law of the strongest prevailed in society. For women it meant that it didn’t matter whether they were right or not.
Matt Damon: The noble squire who raped Marguerite can see no wrong at all. In his opinion, he just took what was due to him. Just like he learned and everyone did. Women were not persons then, they were the property of their father or their husband.
Is everything historically accurate in the film?
Matt Damon: There are no records from the year 1386 how exactly this knight duel took place. But I was already happy that, thanks to the mega helmets, I could leave all the fight scenes to my stunt double …
… only that the visors are open in the film!
Matt Damon: Director Ridley Scott arrived just before filming with a new helmet creation where you can see the face. So you just knew that Matt Damon was the fair knight. And then I had to answer it myself.
If you go back 25 years when you wrote Good Will Hunting, how much has your life changed today?
Matt Damon: Back then we had an infinite amount of time and no obligations. We were in our early twenties, unemployed and had nothing else to do but write. Today we both have children and we have to organize our calendar so who has to take his kids where and when and who has to pick them up again.