Ridley Scott’s upcoming 14th century drama “The Last Duel” marks Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s first screenplay together since “Good Will Hunting,” which won them the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. But Damon and Affleck aren’t the only ones with “Last Duel” screenplay credit. The duo wrote the script with Nicole Holofcener, an Oscar nominee for co-writing “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and the writer-director of “Walking and Talking,” “Friends with Money,” and “Enough Said.” While Affleck, Damon, and Holofcener are a surprising trio, the narrative structure of “The Last Duel” allowed the writers to work on different parts of the script.
“The Last Duel” takes a page from Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” in telling the same event from three varying perspectives. The story centers around a duel between Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) after the former accuses the latter of raping his wife, Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer). The narrative is told from the viewpoints of each character. Damon recently confirmed to Entertainment Tonight how this story structure shaped the writing process.
“It’s a story about perspective,” Damon said. “So, there are two knights and then there’s the Lady Marguerite. So Ben and I wrote the male perspectives and Nicole Holofcener wrote the female perspective. That’s kind of the architecture of that movie.”
Writing with Affleck again over two decades after “Good Will Hunting” proved more efficient. “We didn’t really understand structure [while writing ‘Good Will Hunting’] so we wrote thousands of pages,” Damon told ET. “We’d be like, ‘Well, what if this happened?,’ and then we’d just write different scenes. So, we had all these kind of disparate scenes and then we kind of tried to jam them together into something that looked like a movie.”
Damon continued, “Making movies for 30 years, we actually learned something about structure along the way and the process went along a lot faster. And so I think we’ll write a lot more in the future just because it didn’t turn out to be as time consuming as we thought. It was actually a lot of fun.”
“The Last Duel” was just announced as a selection of the 2021 Venice Film Festival, where it will world premiere out of competition. 20th Century Studios will release “The Last Duel” in theaters October 15.