Minnie Driver Found Out Matt Damon Dumped Her When She Saw Him on "Oprah"
They met co-starring in 1997's Good Will Hunting.
Meeting on the set of a movie, falling for each other, and going on to be nominated for Academy Awards sounds like the beginning of a pretty amazing love story. But the romance between '90s couple Matt Damon and Minnie Driver didn't get much further than that. The two actors began dating in real life after playing love interests in Good Will Hunting, which Damon also co-wrote with Ben Affleck. The film was released in December 1997, and soon after, the actors' relationship was over—only, Damon reportedly knew it before Driver did.
The Circle of Friends star said later that she only realized that she and Damon were finished because she heard him say that he was single during an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Read on to find out more about their brief, "combustible" relationship.
Driver said she fell in love with him during filming.
In a 2012 piece for The Telegraph, Driver described her experience making Good Will Hunting, including a scene in which their characters hang out outside a coffee shop.
"In real life, by the time we filmed this scene, I was completely in love with Matt," she said. "I was blown away by his commitment to me as an actor, he was cute and intelligent and altogether a really charming package. I was young and I fell for him—it's an occupational hazard."
As for Damon, he said on an episode of The Late Show around the time the movie was released (via Showbiz Cheat Sheet) that Driver "pretty much rocked [his] world."
Damon told Oprah he was single.
Damon appeared on Oprah in 1998 and addressed his personal life in addition to the success of Good Will Hunting.
"Well, I'm single. I was with Minnie for a while, but we're not really romantically involved anymore," he said, as reported by Showbiz Cheat Sheet. "We're just really good friends, and I love her dearly … I care about her a lot. We care about each other a lot. It wasn't meant to be, you know? And if it's not meant to be, then it's not meant to be."
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Driver called Damon's comments "fantastically inappropriate."
It has been reported that, not only did Damon reveal their split on Oprah, but also that it was how Driver herself found out they were over. At the time, she called Damon's interview "unfortunate" and "fantastically inappropriate."
"It's horrendous breaking up with someone anyway, but to have it be so public and to be cast in a role that I would never play if they were paying me—this wronged woman!" she told the Los Angeles Times in July 1998. "It's unfortunate that Matt went on Oprah; it seemed like a good forum for him to announce to the world that we were no longer together, which I found fantastically inappropriate. Of course, he was busy declaring his love for me on David Letterman a month previously."
She was warned that the relationship wouldn't last.
Driver wrote a book about her life, Managing Expectations: A Memoir in Essays, that was published in 2022. She wrote about her Damon, including that her parents thought the couple was likely doomed from the start.
"My family loved Matt—it wasn't that. It was that they could see that this young man was rocketing really fast and so was I, and when you're young, it's pretty hard to keep your head on straight and to maintain a grounded sense of deportment," she told Entertainment Tonight. "They were like, 'This may well end badly for reasons that are to do with all these things coming together in a perfect storm.'" She added that the relationship had a "combustible ending."
She slammed interview comments he made years later.
Both Damon and Driver have had a lot of time to move on from the breakup that happened 25 years ago, but they did butt heads publicly once again decades later.
In December 2017, Damon addressed the #MeToo Movement and the allegations that had been made against several men in Hollywood in an interview with ABC News. The Martian star was criticized for his comments, which included arguing that harassment and assault should be viewed on a "spectrum" and supporting comedian Louis C.K. for admitting to his wrongdoing. Damon also said, "We live in this culture of outrage and injury, that we're going to have to correct enough to kind of go, 'Wait a minute. None of us came here perfect.'"
Driver was one of the many people who spoke out against his take, tweeting, "Gosh it's so *interesting how men with all these opinions about women's differentiation between sexual misconduct, assault and rape reveal themselves to be utterly tone deaf and as a result, systemically part of the problem (*profoundly unsurprising)."
Soon after, Driver told The Guardian, "I felt I desperately needed to say something. I've realized that most men, good men, the men that I love, there is a cut-off in their ability to understand. They simply cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level. I honestly think that until we get on the same page, you can't tell a woman about their abuse. A man cannot do that."
Damon later apologized for what he said in the interview.
They ran into each other more recently.
During a 2021 interview on the podcast Keep It!, Driver said that she had run into Damon the previous summer and talked to him for the first time since their breakup.
"That was last summer and it was actually very nice to see him, and his kids, and his wife and it all felt quite middle-aged actually, which was reassuring," she said (via Today). "I feel like so much of the folly of youth went on with our initial relationship, like it was amazing and tabloid-y. So that was nice to just have sort of a middle-aged conversation about the weather and stuff."