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Ben Affleck Shares How Robin Williams Changed His Life in a "Massive" Way

"He was a really extraordinary, kind, loving guy. And that’s, to me, the legacy of Robin."

In 1997, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Robin Williams all starred in Good Will Hunting, written by Affleck and Damon. While Damon and Affleck had both been acting professionally for a while at this point, they weren't the household names they are today, and it wasn't a given that they could get their own script made into a movie. So, it was a huge deal when they not only got the movie made, but that Good Will Hunting became a big success and that they won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Part of the reason the movie was seen by so many was, of course, the casting of Williams, who was a major star. For his part, Williams won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for playing Dr. Sean Maguire in the drama.

Next year marks the 25th anniversary of Good Will Hunting, and in a new interview, Affleck talked about what it meant—and still means—to have Williams in the film. As Affleck explains it, he's not just grateful for the role Williams played in making the movie, but for what he taught him about working in entertainment and navigating life in general. Read on to see what he had to say about the late actor.

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Williams was the first really famous person Affleck ever worked with.

Robin Williams in "Good Will Hunting"
Miramax / YouTube

In an interview with Jake's Takes promoting his new movie The Tender Bar, Affleck was asked what Williams taught him that changed who he is as a person and as an actor.

"I loved Robin," Affleck said of the late comedian. "He was the first person that I really met or knew who was famous. I had just written this movie and it was amazing that got made and then Robin Williams, who was probably the biggest star around at that time, was in the movie. He did so much for us, by believing in us and by doing that movie and also by how warm and lovely and kind he was and collaborative."

Williams taught Affleck how he wanted to be towards others.

Tinseltown /

Affleck was in his twenties when Good Will Hunting was made, and as an up-and-coming actor, he was struck by how kind and accessible Williams was.

"I just thought, well, if this guy can do it, be kind to people and collaborative and work with people and care about them and listen to them, I certainly can," Affleck continued. "He was a really extraordinary, kind, loving guy. And that's, to me, the legacy of Robin. That's what his comedy was rooted in, a kind of basic goodness in humanity."

The actor added, "I wish I had know him my whole life growing up. I didn't have that opportunity. But, when I did meet him—and I was pretty young, I was 24—it made a massive impression on me. I thought, okay, that's how you do this. I'm going to spend my life trying to live up to this example."

Affleck said he owed Williams "everything" following his death.

Matt Damon, Robin Williams, and Ben Affleck with their Oscars at the 1998 ceremony
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Williams died at age 63 in 2014. As reported by People, Affleck reacted to the news on Facebook and remembered what the star had done for him.

"Heartbroken. Thanks chief—for your friendship and for what you gave the world," Affleck wrote. "Robin had a ton of love in him. He personally did so much for so many people. He made Matt and my dreams come true. What do you owe a guy who does that? Everything. May you find peace my friend."

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Damon also said he and Affleck felt a need to pay Williams back.

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon at the premiere of "Project Greenlight" in 2001
Everett Collection / Shutterstock

On the red carpet of the Golden Globe Awards in 2017, Damon was asked by E! News about favorite memories he has from the time when Good Will Hunting came out.

"Oh, man, a lot of Robin Williams memories, a lot of really good memories of him," Damon replied. "And Ben said recently, it's weird, we always felt like we were going to—we had this incredible debt to pay him back. And we thought there would be time to do that and it's just the abruptness of somebody leaving like that and that realization comes that you're never going to be able to pay back this incredible thing somebody did for you. That movie got made because Robin said he wanted to do it. That changed the trajectory of our careers completely, forever."

RELATED: See Robin Williams' Three Kids Now.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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