Ridley Scott’s latest medieval epic, The Last Duel, has bombed at the box office. No matter how much A-list talent is in the cast, $100 million historical dramas are always a huge risk, especially in a world reeling from a pandemic where audiences are still a little cagey about going to the movies.
But The Last Duel has been warmly received by critics and, like Scott’s previous box office bombs Blade Runner and Legend, it could be reappraised as a cult classic a few years down the line. One of the greatest things about the movie is the strong performances by its star-studded cast, including such top-tier actors as Matt Damon, Jodie Comer, and Adam Driver.
Matt Damon – Saving Private Ryan (8.6)
Matt Damon doesn’t just have a screenwriting credit on The Last Duel; he also stars in the movie as Sir Jean de Carrouges, the knight who proposes the eponymous trial-by-combat (the last officially sanctioned duel in French history).
Damon’s top-rated movie on IMDb is Steven Spielberg’s World War II epic Saving Private Ryan, in which he played the titular character. According to CinemaBlend, Spielberg initially wanted to cast an unknown actor to play Private Ryan as a relatable everyman, but by the time the movie hit theaters, Good Will Hunting had made Damon one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.
Adam Driver – Marriage Story (7.9)
The role of Jacques le Gris must’ve been a particularly difficult one to play. After attacking Lady Marguerite, he convinces himself he’s an innocent man and takes those mental gymnastics to his grave. It’s one thing to play a comic book supervillain like Thanos as a “villain who sees himself as a hero,” but another to play a true monster like Jacques through that lens. Adam Driver brought a surprising amount of nuance to the role.
Since playing the scene-stealing, aptly named supporting role of Adam opposite Lena Dunham in HBO’s Girls, Driver has risen to become one of the most prolific and celebrated movie stars in the world. He’s starred in Paterson, Logan Lucky, BlacKkKlansman, and the latest Star Wars trilogy. Driver’s highest-rated movie on IMDb is Noah Baumbach’s harrowing divorce drama Marriage Story, in which he co-starred with Scarlett Johansson.
Jodie Comer – The Last Duel (7.7)
While the focus of The Last Duel is two men fighting, it’s really Lady Marguerite’s story. The movie gets around to her perspective last, but when it finally tells audiences “the truth according to Marguerite de Carrouges,” the words “the truth” powerfully linger on-screen. This was a challenging role, but Jodie Comer gave one of the strongest performances of her career as Marguerite.
This was even recognized by IMDb, which lists The Last Duel as Comer’s best movie. Having risen to prominence on the TV series Killing Eve, Comer only started playing major roles on the big screen this year with Marguerite in The Last Duel and “Molotov Girl” in Ryan Reynolds’ videogame comedy Free Guy.
Alex Lawther – The Imitation Game (8.0)
Alex Lawther gives an unsettling turn in The Last Duel as the cruel King Charles VI, who smirks through public executions, the shocking Parliamentary hearing, and the brutal climactic trial-by-combat. The boy-king enjoys violence as entertainment and Lawther leans into his sadism brilliantly.
While Lawther is best known for his roles in The End of the F***ing World and Black Mirror’s startlingly realistic “Shut Up and Dance” episode, his highest-rated movie on IMDb is The Imitation Game. The Morten Tyldum-helmed biopic stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the revolutionary cryptanalyst whose work helped to win the Second World War for the Allies. Lawther plays a young Turing in his early life.
Harriet Walter – Star Wars: The Force Awakens (7.8)
Veteran actor Harriet Walter plays a small but crucial supporting role in The Last Duel as Jean’s mother who takes all the servants away with her, unwittingly allowing Jacques to break in and attack Marguerite. She’s one of the many women who shame Marguerite for bringing the allegation forward.
Walter’s highest-rated movie on IMDb is Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in which she has a cameo appearance as Kalonia, the doctor who treats Chewbacca. Her Last Duel co-star Adam Driver has a much bigger role in the Star Wars reboot as the main villain, Kylo Ren, the corrupted son of Han and Leia.
Ben Affleck – Good Will Hunting (8.3)
In addition to co-writing the movie with Damon and indie filmmaker Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck co-stars as Count Pierre d’Alençon. While Damon, Comer, and Driver all have a lot of complex emotions to deal with, Affleck gets to let loose with the role of a promiscuous tyrant who enjoys having orgies, drinking wine, and lording his political power over his underlings.
The Last Duel is Damon and Affleck’s first screenwriting collaboration since their record-shattering Oscar win for Good Will Hunting – Affleck’s top-rated movie on IMDb. Damon stars as mathematically gifted janitor Will Hunting, but Affleck provides strong support as his best friend and closest confidant, Chuckie Sullivan, who can see that Will is destined for greater things.