“AIR,” the new movie starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and directed by Affleck, reunites old friends, with a stamp of approval by Michael Jordan.
It is no secret that Affleck and Damon have been friends for decades, first meeting when Damon was 10 and Affleck was 8. In previous interviews, both actors have expressed they each had a love for acting at an early age, which drew them to one another.
During a Q&A after a New York screening of “AIR,” Affleck joked that he has been directing Damon since high school.
“It’s not the first time I’ve carried him,” he said, according to IndieWire.
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Damon laughed, saying, “It might seem like the first time he’s directed me. I mean, we did high-school plays where he was like, ‘Dude, I think you should do it like this.'”
“He’s been directing me for like 40-something years,” he added.
The duo has worked together before, with “Good Will Hunting” being their breakout role.
Damon, then 27, and Affleck, then 25, co-wrote the film together while they were roommates.
“We rented this house on the beach in Venice and 800 people came and stayed with us and got drunk,” Affleck previously said, according to Forbes magazine.
“Then we ran out of money and had to get an apartment. It was, like, everything was exciting,” he said. “So we lived in Glendale and Eagle Rock, and we lived in Hollywood, West Hollywood, Venice, by the Hollywood Bowl, all over the place. We’d get thrown out of some places, or we’d have to upgrade or downgrade depending on who had money.”
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Affleck and Damon not only shared an apartment, they also shared a bank account. During an episode of “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” the two revealed they took an “all for one and one for all” approach. Affleck said, “We were going to help each other and be there for each other. It was like, ‘you’re not going to be alone. I’m not going to be alone, let’s go out there and do this together.'”
Damon added, “As long as one of us had money, we knew that the power wasn’t going to get shut off.”
According to Us Weekly, Affleck and Damon used the release of “Good Will Hunting” to secure a new apartment before they had any credit to their names.
“I remember it was printed in Daily Variety that we were going to get $600,000 on it. We had no credit, so we went to rent this house that was $3,000 a month, and we used a copy of the Daily Variety to get the place,” Affleck said. “I was like, ‘I don’t have credit, but this is who we are.’ And the landlord was like, ‘All right, sure.'”
Affleck recently admitted that he avoided working with Damon after the success of “Good Will Hunting” because always being associated as a duo would be “limiting.”
“One of the things we reflected on when we did ‘The Last Duel’ that caused us to want to do this company together was the fact that we wished we’d kept working together more over the years,” Affleck told The Hollywood Reporter. “We fell prey to this idea that, ‘Well, if you don’t individuate your careers and do your own things, people will always associate you together. That will be limiting.'”
“That was advice we got,” he said.
Affleck also reflected on the importance of his nearly 40-year friendship with Damon to the outlet, saying, “I suppose the reason it works is that I trust him and love him, and I know that this is somebody with integrity. In this business, failure is hard, and success is confusing and can make you lose your bearings. Having that friendship as a touchstone over the years was really meaningful.”
“AIR” was produced by the Affleck and Damon’s new production company, Artists Equity.
At a press conference for the movie last week, Damon shared that the film would not have been made if it was not for Oscar-winner Viola Davis.
Damon said, “if we can’t get Viola Davis, we can’t make the movie.”
Affleck admitted that it has been an “ambition of mine to direct her in a movie.” Not only did the actor’s dream come true in directing Davis, he was also able to direct Damon.
“Film is not a solitary art form; it’s collaborative. It relies on other people, so you need great partners. With casting, it’s all about empowering your actors to enable them to do their best possible work. And when you have actors of the caliber of this cast, that process is more about just getting out of the way,” Affleck said with a smile.
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“But it sure helps when someone like Viola Davis comes along and makes your movie 100 times better just by walking in the door.”
“And that’s also true of Matt,” Affleck continued. “He is very, very gifted, and it was a pleasure to direct him for the first time and discover even more about him as an actor. I feel very lucky that my oldest friend and I are in the same line of work and get to work together. We’re doubly blessed in that way.”
Damon noted during the press conference that it was equally rewarding for him to work with Affleck differently.
“Obviously, we’ve written and produced together over the years, but getting to work with him as a director was utter joy and so creatively rewarding,” Damon said.
“We tend to have similar sensibilities about what’s working in a scene and what isn’t, so we had such an ease with each other. And this cast…every day I was working with another heavyweight acting hero of mine. Start to finish, it was the most fun I’ve ever had on a movie, and it just doesn’t get any better than that,” he continued.
Davis plays Michael Jordan’s mother, Deloris Jordan, in the film, which recounts how Nike signed a young Jordan to a history-changing shoe deal that would change the business and pop culture forever.
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Casting her was not just Affleck and Damon’s decision, though Affleck said working with Davis has been a “life-long career ambition.” Damon later joked, “he didn’t feel that way about working with me!”
The director said that the experience of working with everybody was like “walking on air,” and teased that he was instructed by media handlers to say that kind of thing.
With Damon and Affleck’s new production company, their goal is to create a “more equitable” experience for the crew behind films, including cinematographers, costume designers and more instead of watching an overwhelming chunk of the funds go to actors and directors.
Ultimately, the love between the cast and crew for the story being told shows on screen.
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As Damon said, “This is really for everybody, we used to call them I guess feel good movies,” adding that with this movie, “you should leave the theater with a skip in your step.”
“AIR” arrived in theaters Wednesday, and later on Amazon Prime.
Fox News Digital’s Elizabeth Stanton contributed to this report.