The glamour of the 1998 Oscars was tear-stained for Minnie Driver when her co-star and former boyfriend, Matt Damon, walked the prestigious event’s red carpet with a new companion merely weeks after their relationship ended.
The pair shared more than just the screen in the Oscar-awarded film ‘Good Will Hunting’ that year; a romance had previously blossomed between them. The end of their relationship and Damon’s new date for the Oscars hit Driver hard, as she later expressed. ‘The breakup was fresh, and seeing him at the Oscars with someone else… it shattered me,’ she would later share, recounting her difficulty in fully embracing the joys of the monumental success they had achieved with the movie.
Driver’s shattered heart was visible to an observer who noted her downcast demeanor, to which she responded with honesty about her heartbreak, expressing a wish that she could have reveled more in what was, undoubtedly, a proliferation of acclaim for their film.
It was a poignant image; Damon, hand-in-hand with a new partner, and a somber Driver watched the celebration unfold. When contacted for a response regarding Driver’s sentiments, Matt Damon’s representative chose not to comment.
The tale of their romance began on the set of ‘Good Will Hunting’ in 1997, when both Driver and Damon, still ascending the ladder of fame, found rapport and connection. They faced the glare of the limelight together, but as their renown grew, so did the challenges.
Reflecting in a recent Entertainment Tonight interview, Driver revealed, ‘Our families were fond of Matt, it was something else. They foresaw him and I on separate rocketing paths and it can be a challenge keeping grounded at such speeds. The fear was that a perfect storm of factors might bring about an unfortunate end.’
The storm of circumstances did indeed bring their relationship to a closure. Alongside Matt Damon in ‘Good Will Hunting’ was his long-time friend, Ben Affleck, and it was during the maelstrom of the awards season that the pair’s relationship disintegrated. Further adding to the complexity of their breakup was Damon’s announcement on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ in January 1998, a moment that seemingly caught Driver by surprise.
Another deep cut was added to her heartbreak when Damon, who had declared his love for her in a public forum just a month prior, chose ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ as a platform to announce their breakup. Driver, felt the announcement was in bad taste, stating publicly to the Los Angeles Times, ‘It’s regrettable that Matt decided to break the news of our separation on ‘Oprah.’
Just weeks before, he had been professing his love for me on ‘David Letterman.’ Announcing our breakup on a national platform seemed remarkably out of place.’
For Driver, navigating the fallout of their ‘public’ breakup was an ordeal, her every reaction documented for public consumption. Reading tabloid fodder about her own life felt surreal and deeply hurtful. In her own words relayed to Entertainment Tonight, ‘Irrespective of your status, that’s downright painful. It was like living in a strange, distorted dream, reading about my own breakup in the press.’
In trying to reconcile her feelings, she emphasized that she did not blame Damon entirely, stating that his sudden shot to fame and the resulting public scrutiny was beyond his control. ‘He didn’t place that picture there; fame can be a complex beast to navigate. His increasing celebrity, and the insatiable appetite for details of his life would have been as difficult for him as they were for me,’ she offered.
The public’s interest in their relationship didn’t wane with time, and was further fueled by the Oscar’s night drama. Driver spoke openly about ‘the hunting pressure’ she felt at the event. ‘At the Oscars, a cameraman had been assigned specifically to me. He was constantly in my face, like a wildlife photographer poised for the decisive moment. I felt as though he was waiting for me to unravel or react explosively,’ she recounted decades later.
Since 2019, rumors have been swirling that Driver’s heart has been won over by filmmaker Addison O’Dea. While she has stayed tight-lipped about her private life, it’s clear she’s moved forward and found happiness. Balancing her blooming career with motherhood, Driver also raises a son named Henry.
Matt Damon, on the other hand, moved on and found his happily ever after with Luciana Barroso, whom he married in 2005. His love story with Barroso, differing vastly from his Hollywood romance with Driver, has turned into a long-lasting marriage, remaining firm even in the ever-changing tides of Hollywood.