“Believe me”: Leonardo DiCaprio Was Inches Away From Stealing Matt Damon’s Oscar Winner And $350K Paycheck

Among his long list of Oscar nominations, DiCaprio could've also added one for a role in Good Will Hunting, the part which went to Matt Damon in the end.

"Believe me": Leonardo DiCaprio Was Inches Away From Stealing Matt Damon's Oscar Winner And $350K Paycheck

SUMMARY

  • Leonardo DiCaprio was almost cast as the main lead in the 1997 thriller Good Will Hunting.
  • Matt Damon, who played the part in the film and won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, almost lost the role to DiCaprio.
  • Despite the push to cast DiCaprio as the lead, Damon and Affleck stayed firm to their story and took inspiration from action legend Sylvester Stallone's tale of Rocky.
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When it comes to certified hitmakers in the film industry, seldom comes a name that is more prominent than Leonardo DiCaprio, and rightfully so, seeing the illustrious career the star has to boast of. Thus, it may even be considered unwise for a production company to not hire the star when they have the chance.

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Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio

But despite production wanting to cast him in the 1997 thriller Good Will Hunting, he was unable to take the role. The part in question here was later portrayed by none other than Matt Damon, who also received an Academy Award nod for the Best Actor category along with the film winning an Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay.

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Leonardo DiCaprio Was Almost Cast Instead Of Matt Damon In Good Will Hunting

Leonardo DiCaprio in a still from Romeo+Juliet
Leonardo DiCaprio in a still from Romeo+Juliet

Throughout the years, especially after his fame playing Jack Dawson in the blockbuster Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio proved time and time again that he wasn’t just a one-trick pony by giving award-worthy performances in almost all of his films. Thus, it’s no surprise that every studio in Hollywood was trying to get him on board for their projects.

Among them, Good Will Hunting was also a project that studios wanted him to be a part of as the main lead, but Matt Damon wouldn’t let that happen.

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You may also like: Leonardo DiCaprio Claims Being “Abused” By Robert De Niro On-Screen 30 Years Apart Felt Like He Was “Coming Home”

In a past interview with Vanity Fair, the Jason Bourne star was talking about the film that he co-wrote with his co-star and best friend Ben Affleck which won them their first Oscar award for Best Original Screenplay and got him nominated for Best Actor. He revealed that when they pitched the story to different studios, they wanted the Inception star to play the lead role.

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Since he was the hot new name in the industry with back-to-back critical and commercial hits, it was almost a no-brainer for them to not cast The Wolf of Wall Street star as the main character. He said:

“Believe me, they really wanted to take it away from us,’ They were like, ‘God, Leonardo DiCaprio would be so good in this.’ 

Despite the studio’s push to cast DiCaprio as the lead and the actor duo to sell their story to them, Damon and Affleck stayed firm to their story, taking inspiration from action legend Sylvester Stallone with his tale of Rocky.

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You may also like: Matt Damon Was Hypnotized By Brad Pitt’s Beauty, Admitted He Didn’t Hear a Word He Said as He Just Kept “Looking at Him”

What Was Good Will Hunting About?

Matt Damon in a still from Good Will Hunting
Matt Damon in a still from Good Will Hunting

Quite literally, Good Will Hunting was the film that catapulted Both Damon’s and Affleck’s careers to new heights and enabled them to become premier stars in the industry.

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The film follows the tale of Will Hunting, a genius gifted with exceptional intellect who somehow ends up working as a janitor at MIT. When he decides to solve a difficult math question one day, he’s caught doing so by one of the professors. Seeing the potential, Hunting is taken under their wing to turn his life around for the better, in more ways than one.

You may also like: “I don’t think I was ready”: Spider-Man is Not the Only Role Leonardo DiCaprio Couldn’t Do – Kicked $46B Franchise to the Curb

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Good Will Hunting, streaming on Max.

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Written by Deepak Bisht

Deepak Bisht is a writer at FandomWire who has vast expertise in films of many genres, a hardcore anime nerd along with two years of writing experience. After completing his Bachelor's in Business Administration, he became part of the company in hopes of providing accurate, informative, and exciting articles to the world.

Apart from his contributions to FandomWire, the rest of his time is spent either reading quality works of literature, listening to vintage music, or playing any video games he can get his hands on.