Robin Williams

‘Good Will Hunting’: Robin Williams Joked about Ben Affleck and Matt Damon at the Oscars

It took four Oscar nominations for the late Robin Williams to finally come home with some gold. And when he did, it was for the most surprising of movies, a 1997 drama called Good Will Hunting. However, the most surprising thing about the film wasn’t the story — which focuses on a gifted young man who needs to see a psychologist — but the young men who wrote it. And Williams couldn’t help but sneak in one last gentle dig during his acceptance speech.

Matt Damon, Robin Williams, and Ben Affleck wear suits and hold their Oscars
Matt Damon, Robin Williams, and Ben Affleck | Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.

Robin Williams was a gifted dramatic actor

Williams’ rise to fame was because of Mork & Mindy. But even in the earliest days of his career, Williams was wiling to take risks, venture into new genres, and explore his own humanity through a wide range of characters. His first Oscar nomination eventually came with 1987’s Good Morning, Vietnam.

While still a comedy at points, the movie established Williams was more than a comedic star. Ahead of his Good Will Hunting Oscar nod, the actor was also nominated for Dead Poets Society and The Fisher King. And his heartfelt acceptance speech lent the moment even more weight as he promptly slipped him the latest in a long-running joke.

The actor had a running joke about Ben Affleck and Matt Damon
To many critics — and Williams himself — the insight of Good Will Hunting seems ill-fitting for Affleck and Damon. The two actors each appear in Good Will Hunting, with Damon as the title character. But they also co-wrote the movie and won Best Original Screenplay Oscars for their work. Throughout awards season, Williams often playfully commented on how fresh-faced Affleck and Damon, both then in their mid-twenties were then.

So when Williams took to the stage to accept the award for Best Supporting Actor, he couldn’t help but comment on Affleck and Damon’s youth. In a long string of “thank you’s,” the actor’s first among the film’s production team were the two screenwriters and co-stars. “Thank you, Ben and Matt. I still want to see some ID,” Williams quipped to chuckles from the audience.

Robin Williams leaves behind a legacy of laughter

Williams died in 2014, and though he’s no longer here, his work continues to live on. So many of the actor’s movies continue to earn new generations of fans. And in today’s nostalgia-heavy landscape, some are even getting reimagined for a whole new audience.

Disney’s Aladdin has been adapted into a Tony-winning Broadway musical and a live-action remake starring Will Smith. Jumanji was rebooted into a billion-dollar franchise with a video game twist and Dwayne Johnson at the forefront. And even Mrs. Doubtfire inspired a new Broadway musical, which began in 2021.

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