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Minnie Driver reveals what she’d tell her younger self after ‘heartbreak’ from Matt Damon split

Minnie Driver has candidly reflected on the “heartbreak” she felt after her split from Matt Damon in the late ‘90s.

During Thursday’s episode of the Jennifer Hudson Show, the 54-year-old discussed her public breakup with Damon, who she started dating in 1997 while they worked on Good Will Hunting together. Host Jennifer Hudson recalled that when Driver recently commented on a clip of Damon winning the Oscar, it “made a lot of headlines”.

In December 2023, an Instagram account shared a photo of Driver at the 1998 awards show and said she “looked so sad”. Driver then commented on the post and clarified that she and Damon “had ended [their] relationship a few weeks before this,” and she was “devastated” to see him at the Oscars with his new girlfriend.

Speaking to Hudson, Driver reflected on how her comment about Damon went viral, before sharing what she wished she could have told her 25-year-old self after the breakup.

“From this vantage point, 2020 vision, much later in my life,” she said. “I wish I could have told her, ‘Honey it’s cool, you can celebrate and life’s gonna be great and beautiful and hard and amazing. And you’re going to love again, it’ll be fine.’”

Driver acknowledged that while one’s “heartbreak is private”, it becomes “public” when working in Hollywood. However, she still expressed that breakups are experiences that everyone can resonate with.

“So maybe, just us all relating to each other a bit more as humans,” she said. “And that we just have these similar experiences through different lenses. Perhaps we can treat each other all a bit more kindly.”

During the conversation, The Beekeeper star continued to reflect on when she saw Damon - who she had dated for a year - at the 1998 Oscars. “We’d recently broken up, I was nominated, he was nominated,” she said, noting that she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Good Will Hunting. “He had a new girlfriend, I was totally heartbroken.”

She continued: “I think it’s like anyone who’s been heartbroken can understand, it’s like the last thing you want is everybody having a window in on that and it was so public.”

Driver recalled her decision to comment on the viral clip of herself in December, noting that she’d “never seen” what her face looked like when Damon won the Oscar in 1998.

“The reaction when they won and they cut to me because there was a camera right in the face of the poor young 25-year-old girl, who’s about to burst into tears,” she said.

Matt Damon and Minnie Driver at the premiere of ‘Good Will Hunting’ in 1997 (Getty Images)
Matt Damon and Minnie Driver at the premiere of ‘Good Will Hunting’ in 1997 (Getty Images)

Driver and Damon met while playing love interests in the Boston-set psychological drama about a gifted janitor. The former couple dated from 1997 to 1998, but by the time the 1998 Oscars came around, Damon was dating actor Winona Ryder. Before the Academy Awards, Damon had publicly announced his breakup from Driver during an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

“I was with Minnie for a while, but we’re not really romantically involved anymore. We’re just really good friends. I love her dearly,” he told Winfrey. “I care about her a lot. We care about each other a lot. It wasn’t meant to be and if it wasn’t meant to be then it’s not meant to be.”

During a 1998 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Driver said: “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. Of course, he was busy declaring his love for me on David Letterman a month previously.”

During an appearance on the How to Fail with Elizabeth Day podcast in May 2022, Driver confirmed that while she wasn’t in touch with Damon, she still had a lot of respect for him.

“We’re not friends, but I feel an enormous amount of love for him because we shared this inflection point, well it was an inflection point for me,” she said.

She also discussed her decision to call Damon out on social media in 2017, after he characterised the #MeToo movement as being part of a “culture of outrage and injury”. In response to his remark, Driver tweeted, “God god, seriously?” and suggested that men like Damon were “systemically part of the problem”.

“I think it’s okay to call people out if you’re willing to stand by what you believe, like, I don’t think you should call people out just to get attention. And I also think that you can move on from that, and grow and learn,” she said on the How to Fail with Elizabeth Day podcast, before adding that she “thinks of” Damon “in a very friendly way now”.