Good Will Hunting Might’ve Been Very Different Without Sylvester Stallone

Matt Damon explained why at Tuesday's National Board of Review dinner in New York.

If you’re a fan of Good Will Hunting, you might want to thank Sylvester Stallone.

Matt Damon revealed during the National Board of Review dinner in New York on Tuesday that he was influenced by Stallone–who was also at the event–to fight back against studio executives who thought he wasn’t a good fit for the part of Will Hunting.

According to Vanity Fair, Damon admitted that seeing Stallone star in Rocky after writing the film’s screenplay inspired him to pursue the lead role in Good Will Hunting, which he co-wrote with his pal Ben Affleck.

“Believe me, they really wanted to take it away from us,” Damon said while accepting a best actor award for The Martian. “They were like, ‘God, Leonardo DiCaprio would be so good in this.’”

While the Cambridge-born actor’s determination may have derailed the debut of DiCaprio’s Boston accent until Martin Scorsese’s 2006 drama The Departed, the project turned into a breakout moment for both Damon and Affleck that would forever change their lives.

“Every time they said, ‘You can’t do this,’ we said, ‘Actually it’s been done once before,'” Damon said. “[Stallone’s] story changed my life. He had an incredible amount of courage, and he changed the course of our lives.”

Basically there’d be no Good Will Hunting without Rocky, so thanks Sly!