Good Will Hunting (1997) Poster


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Matt Damon and Ben Affleck found a clever way to choose the right studio for their script: the story goes that on page 60 of the script, they wrote a completely out-of-nowhere sex scene between Will and Chuckie. They took it to every major studio, and nobody even mentioned the scene. When they met with Harvey Weinstein at Miramax, he said, "I only have one really big note on the script. About page 60, the two leads, both straight men, have a sex scene. What the hell is that?" - Damon and Affleck explained that they put that scene specifically in there to show them who actually read the script and who didn't. As Weinstein was the only person who brought it up, Miramax was the studio chosen to produce the film.
The very first day of the shooting, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck started crying out of happiness, because it was a scene between Robin Williams and Stellan Skarsgård, accomplished actors, doing Damon's and Affleck's scene verbatim and they had waited so long (four years) for this to happen.
After the 2014 death of Robin Williams, the Boston Public Garden park bench where he and Matt Damon had their conversation scene, became an impromptu memorial site for the actor with people leaving flowers, quotes and various items at the bench. A petition has been passed around to erect a statue in Williams' memory near the bench.
Casey Affleck ad libbed most of his lines. This frustrated Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Gus Van Sant during filming, but they later admitted that Casey's improvised lines were much funnier and better than what had been originally written for him.
The lines in the scene when Sean talks about his late wife's farting antics were ad-libbed by Robin Williams. That is why Matt Damon was laughing so hard. If you watch the scene carefully you can notice the camera shaking a bit, possibly due to the cameraman laughing as well.
When Robin Williams read the script via Francis Ford Coppola and really liked it, his one question for Coppola was, "Who are these guys?".
When Robin Williams and Matt Damon were shooting the scene on the bench in the Public Garden, in the movie it seems like they're the only people in the park. Robin Williams being a massive star, there were at one point over 3,000 people out there, watching that scene.
One of two personal favorite movies of Matt Damon. The other being The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999).
Initially, producer Harvey Weinstein did not want Minnie Driver at all for the role of Skylar, feeling she wasn't cute enough for the part. Because Gus, Matt and Ben wanted her in the movie, Weinstein ultimately relented and Driver went on to be nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
When Robin Williams won the Oscar for his supporting role, he sent Peer Augustinski, who dubbed his voice in German, a small replica of the Oscar statue with a note saying, "Thank you for making me famous in Germany."
Minnie Driver's character Skylar is named after Damon's girlfriend, Skylar Satenstein, who left Damon for Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich before filming began. Damon and Driver became romantically involved during production.
Director Gus Van Sant at one point asked Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to rewrite the script so that Chuckie is killed in a construction accident. Damon and Affleck protested, but reluctantly wrote the scene in. After Van Sant read it, he agreed that it was a terrible idea.
When Matt Damon was in his fifth year at Harvard, he was in a playwriting class. The culmination of it was to write a one-act play, and he just started writing a movie which with the help of Ben Affleck became this movie.
Matt Damon, a former Harvard student, originally intended to make the title character a physics prodigy. He discussed his idea with Sheldon L. Glashow, a Nobel laureate in physics and at the time a Harvard professor. Glashow told him that the premise did not ring true to him and suggested that the main character be a math prodigy instead. He referred Damon to his brother-in-law, Daniel Kleitman, a professor of mathematics at MIT who provided advice on the story. Both Glashow and Kleitman are thanked in the credits.
According to Matt Damon, Robin Williams' best addition is the last line of the film.
Gus Van Sant painted the picture that hangs in Sean Maguire's (Robin Williams) office.
When Will (Matt Damon) and Sean (Robin Williams) meet for the first time in Sean's office, Will recommends that Sean read Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States". As a boy, Matt Damon was Zinn's neighbor and provided the voice for the CD recording of that book.
The phone number printed on the sign for the construction company, that they are working for, is the actual phone number of a Woburn, Massachusetts construction company that Matt Damon worked for while going to high school in Cambridge.
According to Matt Damon, when the project was set up at Castle Rock Entertainment, all he and Affleck had heard for the casting over them, was "Leo and Brad", referring to Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.
After Mel Gibson dropped out of directing, Michael Mann expressed interest in directing. However, he wanted to make two major changes: He wanted Will and his friends to be car thieves, and he did not want Matt Damon for the lead role since he was still relatively unknown then. The producers, who wanted Damon, suggested the Mann film some screen tests with Damon and Ben Affleck. After Mann filmed the screen tests, he went back to the producers and said he still did not want Damon in the lead, so the producers and Miramax parted ways with Mann since the film was Damon and Affleck's project from the start.
The job interview Will sends Chuckie on is for a company called Holden & McNeil. Ben Affleck's character in Chasing Amy (1997) is named Holden McNeil.
An earlier draft of the script had Will Hunting being recruited by the government to become a cryptanalyst (based on his mathematical ability). Rob Reiner reportedly reviewed the script and advised Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to eliminate this subplot. However, there is a reference to it in the final script: the scene where Will meets with NSA agents and explains why he doesn't want to work for them.
When Matt Damon and Ben Affleck met with Mel Gibson, Braveheart (1995) had just come out. But they hadn't seen Braveheart and Harvey Weinstein encouraged them to lie. So the first thing they said was, "We just want to tell you how much we loved Braveheart!"
In his first scene, Robin Williams is standing in front of a black board. Behind him are written on the black board in chalk the words "Susser 1969". In 1969, Williams graduated from Redwood High School, Larkspur, and then continued at College of Marin, Kentfield just a few blocks away from the High School. He became acquainted with the Drama Department there at College of Marin and performed in the production "Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare. Robin William's first stage director was the late Harvey Susser. Thus, the black board "code words" seem to say: "Hey, Harvey! See this! Now I'm the teacher!"
Roger Ebert asked in his "Movie Answer Man" column for suggestions as to who Will's brothers Marky, Ricky, Danny, Terry, Mikey, Davey, Timmy, Tommy, Joey, Robby, Johnny, and Brian were named after. Gina Dante of Minneapolis suggested that they were "directors whom Ben Affleck and Matt Damon would like to work with": Marc Rocco, Richard Attenborough, Danny Boyle, Terry Gilliam, Mikael Salomon, David Fincher, Tim Burton, Tom Hanks, Joel Schumacher, Robert Redford, John Woo, and Brian De Palma.
At a WGA seminar in 2003, William Goldman denied the persistent rumor that he was the actual writer of Good Will Hunting: "I would love to say that I wrote it. Here is the truth. In my obit it will say that I wrote it. People don't want to think those two cute guys wrote it. What happened was, they had the script. It was their script. They gave it to Rob [Reiner] to read, and there was a great deal of stuff in the script dealing with the F.B.I. trying to use Matt Damon for spy work because he was so brilliant in math. Rob said, "Get rid of it." They then sent them in to see me for a day - I met with them in New York - and all I said to them was, "Rob's right. Get rid of the F.B.I. stuff. Go with the family, go with Boston, go with all that wonderful stuff." And they did. I think people refuse to admit it because their careers have been so far from writing, and I think it's too bad. I'll tell you who wrote a marvelous script once, Sylvester Stallone. Rocky's a marvelous script. God, read it, it's wonderful. It's just got marvelous stuff. And then he stopped suddenly because it's easier being a movie star and making all that money than going in your pit and writing a script. But I did not write Good Will Hunting, alas. I would not have written the "It's not your fault" scene. I'm going to assume that 148 percent of the people in this room have seen a therapist. I certainly have, for a long time. Hollywood always has this idea that it's this shrink with only one patient. I mean, that scene with Robin Williams gushing and Matt Damon and they're hugging, "It's not your fault, it's not your fault." I thought, Oh God, Freud is so agonized over this scene. But Hollywood tends to do that with therapists."
The mathematical equations seen in the opening credits are part of a math technique called "Fourier Analysis" which approximates functions by sines and cosines. It's used a lot in physics and engineering.
In a Boston Magazine retrospective interview, Ben Affleck mentioned that he and Matt Damon wrote the part of Sean Maguire with Morgan Freeman or Robert De Niro in mind and he and Damon would imitate their voices when reviewing the dialogue in the script.
The script was originally developed by Castle Rock, Rob Reiner production company. When they didn't know what to do with it, filmmaker Kevin Smith took the script to Miramax. It became the highest grossing film in Miramax history until Chicago (2002) topped it.
When Will is mopping the floor at the beginning of the movie his name tag identifies him as "Bob" rather than "Will".
Mel Gibson was offered a chance to direct, even meeting with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and executive producer Harvey Weinstein, but ultimately passed on directing.
Sean's office is set up like a baseball diamond, with 4 chairs representing the bases and a table in the middle like a pitcher's mound. This is most noticeable during the Carlton Fisk homerun reenactment.
To date this is the film with the highest U.S. box-office gross with Kevin Smith's name attached to it. All his own films that he has written and directed have not grossed more than 35 million dollars at the U.S. box-office.
Sean Maguire was based on Matt Damon's mother and Ben Affleck's father, kind of a synthesis of the two.
The odd and perplexing line, "I swallowed a bug", said by Casey Affleck's character Morgan in the Harvard bar scene, is a reference to the documentary "Hearts of Darkness", as well as actor Marlon Brando. The behind-the-scenes documentary tells of the making and struggles Francis Ford Coppola had during the production of Apocalypse Now. In a look at one of Marlon Brando's scenes, his line is interrupted when he accidentally swallows a real bug, and states to Francis Ford Coppola off camera, "I swallowed a bug."
The subway car Will rides in is a model that was retired in 1994; the MBTA took one out of mothballs and cleaned it up for the production.
After Matt Damon and Ben Affleck sold their script to Castle Rock, it was printed in Daily Variety that they were going to get 600,000 dollars for it. By using a copy of the Daily Variety, because Affleck and Damon had no credit at the time, they rented a house that was 3,000 dollars a month.
In the scene on the park bench, Robin Williams gives an example of love that Will hasn't experienced as "going to hell and back for it." In his next movie, What Dreams May Come (1998), Williams does just that for his love played by Annabella Sciorra after she commits suicide.
The lecture hall in the movie is actually a lecture hall in McLennan Physical Laboratories (MP); a building at the University of Toronto (St. George Campus) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Morgan O'Malley says that the crew has run into a "barney" at the Harvard bar. Barney is Boston slang for a Harvard student.
The infamous "How do you like them apples?" line that Will (Matt Damon) says at the window was taken verbatim from Jack Nicholson's character in Chinatown (1974).
Matt Damon was MIT's 2016 commencement speaker. He commented in his speech that it was the second time he fake-graduated from there.
Coupled with Matt Damon being cast as the lead in The Rainmaker (1997), Robin Williams signing onto the film, had lead to it getting fast tracked for production.
As of 2009, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have both co-written one other script each, although not with each other; Damon co-wrote Gerry (2002) with Gus Van Sant and Ben's brother Casey Affleck, and Ben Affleck directed and co-wrote (with his childhood friend Aaron Stockard) the script for Gone Baby Gone (2007). In 2010, Ben Affleck directed The Town (2010), for which he had also co-written the screenplay.
On The Graham Norton Show (2007), Harvey Weinstein revealed that when he first read the script there was a scene were Sean and Gerald give each other oral sex. Weinstein questioned Matt Damon and Ben Affleck about this and they responded that it was written as a gag to make sure he actually read the script.
While looking over some of Will's work, Lambeau remarks, "I see you used Maclaurin here," referring to a mathematical representation called the Maclaurin series. Coincidentally, McLaurin was Robin Williams' middle name.
Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Cole Hauser all previously appeared together in the movie School Ties (1992).
After Matt Damon and Ben Affleck removed the NSA stuff from the script, Castle Rock, by that time owning the rights to the script, gave them time to go out and find somebody who will buy their version of the movie, meaning a director. But there was a price tag: Castle Rock wanted to get their money back. So if they couldn't find anybody to buy it, when it came back to Castle Rock, they were not going to be the stars anymore.
According to Gus Van Sant, the moment where Harvey Weinstein really wanted to get the movie done was partly due to Matt Damon being cast in The Rainmaker (1997) by Francis Ford Coppola which validated the fact that Damon was a leading man.
In the café scene, where Will announces to Skylar that he was hoping to 'get laid', an extra walking past and peering into the window can be identified as the actor Christian Stolte.
The Ontario Specialty Company, at 133 Church Street in Toronto, Ontario, was the setting for Matt Damon and Minnie Driver's date. The real life manager of the store Anna Zejn makes an appearance.
The film cast includes four Oscar winners: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Casey Affleck; and one Oscar nominee: Minnie Driver.
The very last line in the credits is "In Memory Of Allen Ginsberg & William S. Burroughs".
In an interview, between Matt Damon and Kevin Smith at IMDb's 2016 San Diego Comic Con, Matt mentions that Kevin was instrumental in the movie being made. As it was Kevin that brought the script directly to Harvey Weinstein when the other studios were not showing interest.
First film in Kevin Smith & Scott Mosier's filmography to receive Oscar recognition. Though they weren't nominated themselves, they were still instrumental in getting the films production even happening. Kevin Smith was friends with Ben Affleck after his casting in Mallrats (1996), then cast him as the lead in Chasing Amy (1997). Following Matt Damon's cameo role, along with Brian O'Halloran as television producers, was after Affleck introduced the pair, which led to them giving Smith the screenplay, ultimately landing with Harvey Weinstien of Miramax.
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Matt Damon was 26/27 when the movie was filmed, His character, Will, was 20.
Robin Williams signing on definitely was the linchpin for the movie getting made.
Many years after the fact, Ben Affleck admitted to having had concerns after the film's success that he would just be regarded as "Matt Damon's stupid friend. Yes, that stayed with me for a while." Source: Appearance on the Graham Norton Show.
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Anthony Minghella was offered the role of Henry Lipkin but was unable to take the role due to scheduling conflicts.
While a guest on David Letterman's late night talk show, Robin Williams joked about his experience after winning an Oscar for his role in Good Will Hunting: "It's amazing. When you win the Academy Award, you have, like, about a about a week where everyone's like, 'Hey, Good Will Hunting--way to go! Good Will Hunting, Academy Award, way to go!' And two weeks later, it's like, "Hey, Mork!' How are ya?"
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Bob Saget was cast originally.
In the film, Skylar talks about her father having died years prior. Skylar Satenstein's father, Frank Satenstein, a television director, died in 1982, years before Skylar and Matt Damon were dating at Harvard.
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Andrew Scheinman and Michael Mann were considered to direct.
Matt Damon and Casey Affleck appeared in the Ocean's trilogy together.
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Michael Winterbottom was approached to direct but declined.
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The movie was named as one of "The 20 Most Overrated Movies of All Time" by Premiere.
Jan Sverák refused to direct it.
Skyler's phone number is 555-1294.
When the project was in turnaround at Castle Rock, Ben Affleck showed the script to Kevin Smith while working with him on Chasing Amy (1997), which led to Smith and Scott Mosier coming on board as producers. Chasing Amy (1997) also featured cameos by Casey Affleck and Matt Damon.
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Stellan Skarsgård previously appeared in The Hunt for Red October (1990) and the Swedish film Insomnia (1997). Ben Affleck appeared in the Jack Ryan reboot The Sum of All Fears (2002), while Robin Williams appeared in the English-language remake Insomnia (2002).
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This is the first film in which the top billed actor (excluding films in which the cast is billed alphabetically) wins an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
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The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Robin Williams' last line in the film, "Son of a bitch. He stole my line." was ad-libbed.

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