As Jay Leno‘s “Tonight Show” tenure comes to an end, a number of guests have been reflecting on their earliest experiences with the late-night legend. The latest is Matt Damon, who first visited “The Tonight Show” in 1997 to promote his screenwriting debut, “Good Will Hunting.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been as scared as I was the first time I’d done this show,” Damon recalls to Leno. “I’d never been myself. It was a very odd thing.”
As is so often the case in these situations, Leno had a clip to roll of Damon’s first interview on “Tonight.” In it, Damon recalled the experience of having the movie he co-wrote with best bud Ben Affleck finally begin filming.
“By the time they hit ‘action,’ tears were just running down my face. And I looked up at Ben; Ben’s crying too,” Damon said at the time. “Robin [Williams] looked over after the scene and he saw us, and he got up and he walked across this whole room and he put his hand right on our shoulders and he said, ‘It’s not a fluke. You guys did it.'”
But that emotional story isn’t what Affleck would tell “anybody who would listen” about the visit to the “Tonight Show” in the years to follow. Instead, he would just make fun of “Matty” for being terrified when he walked out on stage. “It was stage fright, I guess,” Damon admits now.
In another clip from the episode, Damon explains the prank his “The Monuments Men” director George Clooney pulled on him to make him feel like he was gaining weight. It’s pretty hilarious: