Minnie Driver Thought the Way Matt Damon Announced Their Split Was “Fantastically Inappropriate"
#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.
Who: Oscar-winning actor, producer, and screenwriter Matt Damon, 49, and Oscar-nominated actress Minnie Driver, 50.
How They Met: Damon and Driver met when the latter auditioned for Good Will Hunting (likely at some point in 1996). Years later, Driver told The Telegraph that she was “completely in love with Matt” by the time she and Damon filmed their scenes in the film together. “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,” she said.
It’s unclear precisely when Damon and Driver became a couple, but they were going on public outings by at least July of 1997. We have to believe that this photo of Damon holding a cigar in a double-breasted jacket and tiny sunglasses was his own source of inspiration when he starred in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Why We Loved Them: Judging by photo evidence, Driver truly understood and supported the greatest bromance of the late ‘90s: Damon and Ben Affleck. “Don’t fight it; embrace it,” Driver told herself (probably).
The Breakup: Much more notable than Damon and Driver’s relationship was, of course, their split.
Good Will Hunting opened nationwide in January 1998. Soon after, Damon went on The Oprah Winfrey Show to announce he was single — a move which Driver told the LA Times she found “fantastically inappropriate.” Soon after Damon’s announcement, he was seen around L.A. with actress Winona Ryder.
“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!” Driver went on.
Driver did not back away from the topic of her breakup in the press — a decision that many public figures were weirdly upset by. By August of ’98, Driver was no longer taking questions about what happened, though she did share her frustration regarding the media’s treatment of the situation with The New York Times. She said, “The press took a spin, chose an angle in the best tradition of Dynasty and Dallas." She went on, "The strangest fruit of fame is that people can twist your honesty into what they think you are trying to project. But how else is one meant to be? Do you become so shut down that you say nothing, that you have no opinions?''
The actress later described the split to The Telegraph as “grim,” explaining that the relationship “turned from this beautiful thing into something so dark.” She was upset by the way things ultimately shook out. “I’m always really sad that we didn’t stay friends because it was absolutely incandescent making that film.”
In 2014, Driver said she was “grateful” to Damon and Affleck for advocating for her to get the part of Skylar in Good Will Hunting — telling Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen that a producer (later revealed to be Harvey Weinstein) didn’t think she was “hot enough” for the role.
By 2017, things weren’t quite as civil between Driver and Damon. In December, Damon said there was “a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation. Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated,” adding, “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 not amused. Responding to Damon’s comments, Driver wrote on Twitter, “Gosh it’s so interesting (profoundly unsurprising) 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.”
Later, Damon attempted to clarify his comments. “I don’t know Louis CK. I’ve never met him. I’m a fan of his, but I don’t imagine he’s going to do those things again,” he said regarding the sexual misconduct allegations against the comic. “You know what I mean? I imagine the price that he’s paid at this point is so beyond anything ... ”
Driver then told The Guardian, “I don’t understand why Matt would defend Louis CK. It seems to me that he thinks that because he didn’t rape somebody — so far as we know — that what he did do wasn’t as bad. That’s a problem. If good men like Matt Damon are thinking like that then we’re in a lot of fucking trouble. We need good intelligent men to say this is all bad across the board, condemn it all and start again.”
In 2018, Driver issued another blow while speaking at a #MeToo event, telling the crowd that her ex “represented every intelligent, nice white male who feels it is their job to comment on the way that women metabolize stuff.”
Where They Are Now:
After splitting from Ryder, Damon vowed to only date “civilians” — enter: then-bartender Luciana Barroso. The pair wed in 2005 and are share four daughters together, including Barroso’s daughter from a previous relationship.
Damon recently reunited with Affleck to write and star in a period film called The Last Duel — it’s expected in theaters next January.
Driver shares an 11-year-old son, Henry, with producer Timothy J. Lea but the Riches alum was last romantically linked to filmmaker Addison O’Dea.
Next up for Driver is a role in Kay Cannon’s musical Cinderella adaptation.