Matt Damon and Gus Van Sant on Good Will Hunting

Kyle Buchanan interviews the actor and director of Good Will Hunting as it celebrates it’s 15th anniversary.

Get ready to feel old: This month marks the fifteenth anniversary of Good Will Hunting, the Oscar-nominated 1997 drama that made stars of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and turbocharged the career of its director, Gus Van Sant. Damon and Van Sant have since reteamed for their new film Promised Land, though it’s a reunion that almost didn’t happen, since Damon was originally supposed to direct the script (which he cowrote with John Krasinski) himself. “I sort of hoped that something would go wrong and they’d ask me to direct it,” laughed Van Sant last night at a party for Promised Land at the Sunset Towers in Los Angeles. “And then they did!”

Though Van Sant and other stars of Promised Land were mingling at the party, the main attraction was Damon, who was so swarmed by partygoers and well-wishers that he was stuck in one corner of the room the entire night. To hear Damon tell it, that’s basically how it’s been since that long-ago December thatGood Will Hunting came out. “Everything changed for us within the course of two months, everything was different,” he said. A man loomed nearby, holding a football he hoped Damon would sign. Meanwhile, a woman subtly angled her cameraphone to get Damon in the shot.

What did he learn then? “The weird thing about fame is that people say you change, but you actually don’t,” Damon said. “The world doesn’t change either — it just changes in its relationship to you. You walk into a room and suddenly the conversation stops because everybody looks at you. It’s a really weird thing because intellectually, you know that the important things are all the same — everything that mattered yesterday still matters today — but nobody treats you the same. You just need to recalibrate everything.”

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