NYC Comedic Play Looking for New Matt Damon and Ben Affleck Characters

It hasn’t been a good week for Ben Affleck, as Jennifer Lopez gave him his walking papers; now word comes to that the off-Broadway play “Matt and Ben” is searching for two actresses to portray Matt Damon and Affleck. Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers, the Dartmouth graduates who wrote the play together and portrayed the two stars in its initial run at the East Village’s PS 122 school, are stepping aside to let two others play the high-powered duo, something that was long speculated to happen.

“Matt & Ben” is a satire on the actors’ friendship— before Bennifer became a national joke, before Gwyneth, before “Project Greenlight,” before Oscar and before anyone actually returned their calls. In the play, Matt and Ben are played by two women who do not physically look like either Matt or Ben, but recounts their friendship in the days before “Good Will Hunting” established them on the Hollywood map. The show premiered at last year’s New York City Fringe Festival.

The producers of the play are searching for actresses in their early- to mid-20s to “take on each character’s essence, while adding their own uniqueness to the role,” as well as “extremely versatile actors with strong comic timing and sensibility.”

In the casting notes has obtained, the Damon character is described as “driven and ambitious,” as well as taking himself too seriously while – at the same time – being unbelievably sincere. The producers are especially looking for an actress to reach real emotional depth with the character, as well as the ability to sing decently. Affleck is described here as little more than a “goofy, naive and charming slacker.”

While word of mouth has been kind to the indie play, the critical reaction has not. In a review in New York Magazine, critic John Simon writes that “the young women perform about as well as they write…. If the script of “Matt & Ben” also dropped from the ceiling, as it well might have, why couldn’t it, like the “Good Will Hunting” script in the play, have its pages go blank before it ever got produced?”

The length of the contract is open-ended, and rehearsals for the part begin in mid-February.

The Scorecard
Producers: Victoria Lang, Pier Paolo Piccoli, Stephen Pevner and Jason Hsiao
Director: David Warren
Playwrights: Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers
Casting: Victoria Pettibone
Rehearsals: Start approx. mid-February
Length of contract: Open ended
Theater: New York (PS 122, East Village)