Ben Affleck Jokes That His Child Stardom Was the Reason Matt Damon Started Acting: He Was ‘Incredibly Jealous’

Taking credit! Ben Affleck teased that his past as a child actor inspired one of Hollywood’s biggest names to take the risk and join the industry.

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The Way Back star, 47, opened up about his first foray into acting during an appearance on Sirius XM’s The Jess Cagle Show on Tuesday, March 3 — and couldn’t resist taking a jab at longtime pal Matt Damon in the process. The childhood pals grew up together in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and their bond has stayed strong as they’ve become serious stars.

“When I was really young, my mom’s friend [was] a casting director in Boston,” Affleck began. “She was casting a kids’ science and math, adventure, sort of pre-Dora the Explorer kind of show for PBS and had me come in to audition and worked with me on it. I was 7 or 8 and ended up getting the part.”

Ben Affleck Jokes That His Child Stardom Was the Reason Matt Damon Started Acting
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck attend the ‘Live By Night’ film premiere in Los Angeles on January 9, 2017. Rob Latour/Variety/Shutterstock

The show only aired “sporadically,” so Affleck’s experience as a child actor was minimal. “I’m glad that I had a normal childhood and grew up in a normal way in Boston,” the Argo star explained.

Even though the educational TV series was “cheesy,” Affleck said his time on the show ended up teaching him two very important lessons as a young actor.

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“It instilled in me a deep sort of love and affection for this art and craft and line of work. And it made Matt Damon so incredibly jealous [that] it drove him into a career in cinema. So I really take credit for that,” he joked.

The Gone Girl star told a similar story on Jimmy Kimmel Live! later Tuesday night, claiming that his gig on the kids’ program was enough to make Damon, 49, “boil with envy” when they were younger. The pair even faced off for roles in the fall play while they were in high school.

“[Matt] walked up to me and said, ‘Let me give you a little advice. This isn’t TV, where you get by on your looks and your haircut. This is about talent,'” Affleck reminisced to host Jimmy Kimmel.

The longtime friends went on to work on a number of projects together once they both made it big in Hollywood, including 1997’s Good Will Hunting. The pair ended up winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the film, which also starred the late Robin Williams.

Damon revealed to Entertainment Tonight in 2016 why he thought his friendship with Affleck was still so strong, more than 30 years later.

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“We were both in love with the same thing — acting and filmmaking,” he said at the time. “I think we fed on each other’s obsession during really formative, important years and that bonded us for life.”

Two years later, while Affleck was in the midst of his third stint in rehab for alcohol addiction, a source told Us Weekly that Damon was “a huge support” for his friend.

“He’ll always be there for Ben whenever he needs him,” the insider said at the time.

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