Matt Damon is best known as the actor who plays a leading role in movies including ‘Good Will Hunting’, but before he became a famous actor, did he go to Harvard?
Matt Damon attended Harvard to study English, though he knew already that he wanted to pursue a career in acting. During his time at Harvard, he found a talent for playwriting.
Read more below about Matt Damon and his education.
Matt Damon comes from an education background, with his mother working as a professor. As a child, he attended a public school called Cambridge Ridge & Latin School.
It was at school that he met Ben Affleck, his childhood friend, and fellow actor. After school, the two went their separate ways, with Affleck heading to the University of Vermont and Damon enrolling at Harvard, though acting would bring them together again.
His application to the prestigious university started with the words, “For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be an actor.” When he got into Harvard, he says it was a “tough place to turn down.”
He recalls arriving at the university and being impressed by his surroundings.
In a playwriting class, he discusses submitting his project, the first act of a three-act movie. After thinking he would fail the class, he was surprised to find that his teacher was encouraging. “He gave me an A,” Damon remembers.
“He wrote extensively in the margins to please keep up with this, that it was worthy, that it was good, that it wasn’t anything close to a failure, that it was something I had to pursue.”
One of the scenes from the play written by Damon, a young student at the time, would go on to become ‘Good Will Hunting’.
He has been outspoken regarding his views on education, pushing for a more progressive school system. With his own children, Damon has opted to send them to a private school, a decision that has attracted criticism.
“I pay for a private education,” he said, “and I’m trying to get the one that matches the public education that I had, but that kind of progressive education no longer exists in the public system. It’s unfair.”
Damon’s mother claims that she knew her son would become an actor from an early age, as he enjoyed role-play and entertainment.
Damon’s movie debut came when he was aged just 18 in ‘Mystic Pizza’.
His big break came with ‘Good Will Hunting’. He worked on the script with Ben Affleck, and the two eventually sold it to Castle Rock.
“I laughed the entire time we wrote,” he told The Guardian. “It was a really joyful experience.”
The movie was released in 1997 and starred both Damon and Affleck, as well as Robin Williams. Damon plays Will Hunting, who has a talent for math and is coached by his psychologist, played by Williams.
The movie achieved huge success, though this brought with it newfound fame for Damon, which was somewhat difficult to adjust to. “You wake up one morning and the world is entirely the same and you know, actually, all the things that mattered yesterday are the same today, except the world is forever going to be a totally different place for you,” he explains.
Damon and Affleck won an Oscar for their writing. In their acceptance speech, Affleck commented, “We’re just really two young guys who were fortunate enough to be involved with a lot of great people.”
Following ‘Good Will Hunting’, he continued landing big roles. In 1998, he appeared in ‘Saving Private Ryan’, and a year later, he starred in ‘The Bourne Identity’. His later works include ‘Invictus’, ‘The Adjustment Bureau’, and ‘Downsizing’.
Outside of acting, Damon co-founded Water.org, an organization that aims to make safe drinking water accessible to all. “The technology exists to provide everyone with clean, safe drinking water and I wanted to be part of the effort to stop children from dying so unnecessarily because of this problem. I’m the father of four children, and I couldn’t live with myself if I did nothing to help other children in this way,” he says.