The Oscars host has been one-half of the hilarious twelve-year feud with Damon that has even seen their famous friends join in on the gag. But Kimmel didn’t mean to start a decade-long beef with Damon — he just wanted to cheer himself up after a particularly bad early episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!
“We had a bad show … The guests were bad, and I was feeling pretty bad about myself at the end of the program,” Kimmel told NPR in 2013. “And I decided to say, for the amusement of one of our producers who was standing next to me … ‘I want to apologize to Matt Damon. We ran out of time.’ … And he got a kick out of it, the producer, so I just started doing it every night to amuse him.”
And even though he only said Damon’s name because it’s the first A-lister he thought of, the joke stuck after the December 2005 episode. The host then spent about a year closing his show with the same apology to Damon before the actor himself came on to participate in a fake fight in 2006 after he finally makes it on the show and the host cuts him off.
“It turned into this thing, so when he did a primetime thing I went on, and the joke was that he took so long introducing me that by the time I got on, we were out of time,” Damon told Parade in 2011.
But the bit really took off in 2008 when Kimmel’s then-girlfriend Sarah Silverman teamed up with Damon to create a music video telling her boyfriend that she had been sleeping with Damon the whole time. Now viewed over 16 million times, “I’m F—- Matt Damon” was an instant viral hit and one of the funniest bits shown on late night television.
But Kimmel didn’t fall far behind — he made his own reciprocal video the next year titled “I’m F—- Ben Affleck” that enlisted Damon’s BFF and other famous friends, including Brad Pitt, the late Robin Williams and Harrison Ford.
The fake-bitter rivals continued ribbing each other in skits on the late night show, until finally Damon elevated the feud by kidnapping Kimmel and taking over his show in 2013. Damon came on as the host of the show — renaming it Jimmy Kimmel Sucks! — while Kimmel was in the background bound to a rolling chair and gagged with his tie.
The two continued to up each other’s antics, before Damon enlisted Ben Affleck’s help to sneak him into Kimmel’s 2016 post-Oscars show. Wearing a huge suit, Affleck sits down for his interview before Damon pops out to surprise Kimmel.
A year later, Damon managed to sneak on the show again, pretending to be Tom Brady after his epic comeback Super Bowl win and later participating in a Maury-style skit with Kimmel and his pregnant wife to find out who the baby’s father is.
The 2017 Oscars host got in the first shot of the Academy Award season last week, when he defaced Damon’s seat marker with a mustache doodle.
On the red carpet Sunday, Damon admitted that he was bracing himself for more teasing. “I’m afraid, I think I’m in for it tonight, it’s going to be a little rough,” he told ABC red carpet host Michael Strahan with a laugh.
Less than an hour before showtime, Kimmel proved that statement true when he posted a faux-ominous Twitter pic of himself watching Damon onscreen outside the show, captioning the image “dead man walking the red carpet.”
As for what went down during the 2017 Oscars? There were plenty of zingers, starting with Kimmel’s monologue, which poked fun at Damon for casting Casey Affleck in the award-winning Manchester by the Sea while he starred in a “Chinese ponytail movie.”
“He could have taken that lead actor part for himself but he didn’t. He gave that role to Casey Affleck, his childhood friend,” Kimmel said. “He handed what turned out to be an Oscar-caliber role over to his friend and made a Chinese ponytail movie instead. And that movie,The Great Wall, went on to lose $80 million. Smooth move, Dumb ass.”
In October 2017, Damon hijacked Chris Hemsworth’s segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live, held just before the premiere of his Marvel film Thor:Ragnorak. Damon slowly popped his head in view of the camera next to Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo and the film’s director Taika Waititi, in the backstage area of the show. As the crowd began to scream and applaud, Kimmel joked, saying, “It’s the mighty Thor not the muddy bore, so maybe take a walk!”
Damon took his antics up a notch, “hacking” into the big screen behind Kimmel and Hemsworth and stealing the spotlight. “I’m on the show,” Damon said. “I hacked into the system.”
That same month, Damon debuted as George and Amal Clooney’s “manny” to 4-month-old twins Ella and Alexander on Jimmy Kimmel Live – but quickly devolved into slinging insults (and eventually even throwing up middle fingers) at the late night host.
“He’s my manny,” Clooney told the audience of his longtime friend and Ocean’s Eleven costar as Damon rolled in pushing a double stroller and carrying a diaper bag on one shoulder and spit-up towel on the other. “He’s just very good with the kids!”