Minnie Driver Recalls Her Romance With Matt Damon Coming to "Combustible Ending"

While Minnie Driver said she and Matt Damon had a "sweet romance" after they co-starred in Good Will Hunting, she'll never forget the Oprah-induced frenzy around their breakup.

By Elyse Dupre May 05, 2022 9:02 PMTags
Watch: Minnie Driver Takes on Challenging "Speechless"

It's been over two decades since Minnie Driver and Matt Damon split, but the actress still remembers the attention around their relationship like it was yesterday.

Driver, 52, looked back at their time together while discussing her new book, Managing Expectations: A Memoir in Essays, in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.

The two started dating after they played lovers in the 1997 movie Good Will Hunting. And while it seems like Damon, now 51, got her family's stamp of approval, Driver suggested her loved ones worried about the level of public scrutiny around their romance. 

"My family loved Matt. It wasn't that," she said when asked if she felt she and Damon had moved too quickly. "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. They were like, 'This may well end badly for reasons that are to do with all these things coming together in a perfect storm.'"

Matt Damon: Movie Star

Damon and Driver broke up in 1998, and the Oscar winner announced the split on The Oprah Winfrey Show in January of that year. Later, the two disagreed publicly about whether Damon had broken up with Driver on the show.

"Well, I'm single," Damon told Winfrey at the time. "I was with Minnie for a while, but we're not really romantically involved anymore. 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."

Steve Granitz/WireImage

Months later, Driver reacted to Damon's interview during a chat with the Los Angeles Times. "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," she said. "Of course, he was busy declaring his love for me on David Letterman a month previously."

Damon insisted in a later Oprah interview that Driver did not learn of the breakup through his television appearance. Still, the split became tabloid fodder. "I don't care who you are, that is agony and it's like a strange, surreal dream," Driver told ET, later adding, "It's so tricky, because it's not deliberate, he couldn't have helped how famous he became and how his life was being picked over, in the same way that mine was."

Things didn't get easier as the co-stars entered awards season, with Driver telling the outlet a cameraman at the Oscars—where both she and Demon were nominated—made her feel like a "wildlife photographer waiting for the kill" by keeping his camera on her.

Through it all, Driver leaned on her father and remembers him holding her hand and giving her words of encouragement. "It feels like a movie in itself, which it was and it was presented in that way," she said, "but now, I look back and it just feels really overly dramatic and kind of funny—brutal, but funny."  

Both Damon and Driver have since moved on. The Jason Bourne actor is married to Luciana Barroso—with whom he shares daughters Isabella, 15, Gia, 13, and Stella, 11, and stepdaughter Alexia Barroso, 23—and the Cinderella star is in a relationship with filmmaker Addison O'Dea and mom to son Henry, 13, from a previous relationship.

Today, Driver says that she tells the story of her and Damon "with love." She explained: "That was just a sweet romance that was just a sweet love affair in the center of all of that stuff, but had a combustible ending, which then became the focus," she told ET. "Another thing that my parents taught me, was there just isn't any time to sit around feeling resentful or angry, just have to get on and everybody had a beautiful life."