Robin Williams had been a big star since he was in his 20s, but he was also responsible for launching the careers of dozens of other actors. Both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon can count themselves in that group and both know how lucky they are to have known him.
Matt Damon spoke with Katie Couric for the first time since Williams’ death and showed his admiration for the man and what he did for them.
“Ben and I owe everything to him. He said yes to our movie and he got it made. I could never thank him enough,” Damon told Couric. “You know, I look around at the life I have and how blessed I feel, and so much of it started with him.”
Damon and Affleck’s film, Good Will Hunting, had already been sold to a film studio, but had been delayed for two years when Williams decided to be a part of it, according to Yahoo. Damon and Affleck’s careers were both launched from the film and it helped Williams win his only Oscar. Damon and Affleck won writing Oscars that year and Damon was nominated for Best Actor.
Williams died in August at the age of 63. Damon decided to finally open up about what an amazing friend and colleague Williams was to him, explaining, “He was the funniest person that I ever met in my life. He was the guy who, when the crew was flagging, he would stop everything and do 20 minutes of stand-up off the top of his head that literally had everybody on the floor, then be like, ‘OK, let’s get back to work.'”
Damon admitted he was “shocked” by the death of Williams, but said they hadn’t talked in a while.
“I think everyone who wasn’t there with him at the end feels bad that they didn’t see it coming,” he explained. “I hope I become better at checking in with my friends and I hope that we as a country get better at checking in with each other to prevent this kind of thing.”
But Damon said it is an opportunity to end the stigma of mental illness and suicide in the world.
“It’s a sign of incredible strength and fortitude. To be able to stand up and say, ‘This is real, this is happening to me and I need your help.'”