GOOD WILL HUNTING
Like so many film projects that originate in the minds of struggling young writers and hopeful young filmmakers, the making of Good Will Hunting is a story filled with rags and riches, longshot odds and lucky breaks
Like so many film projects that originate in the minds of struggling
young writers and hopeful young filmmakers, the making of Good
Will Hunting is a story filled with rags and riches, longshot
odds and lucky breaks. Indeed, the story behind the screenplay
sounds like a screenplay itself: two childhood friends (and aspiring
actors) sit down and try their hands at writing their own movie
and, after years of sweat, struggle and studiowrangling,
get the project made with some of the most renowned names in the
business, with themselves in starring roles.
The tale of a misunderstood young genius named Will Hunting wasn't
originally intended for the big screen at all; it started as a
fiftypage short story, conceived by thenHarvard student
Matt Damon to fulfill a creative writing assignment in 1992. But
something about that simple story just wouldn't let Damon go
namely, it's possibilities, and the unique characteristics of
its thoroughly original protagonist, a brilliant South Boston
"townie" named Will Hunting.
Once his short story was finished, Damon showed Good Will Hunting
to his longtime friend, Ben Affleck. The two natives of Cambridge,
Massachusetts, had been friends since third grade, and shared
the same acting career aspirations from their high school years
on. But while they had performed together in numerous high school
productions, Damon and Affleck had never collaborated on a writing
project. The moment they sat down to contemplate the possibilities
of Damon's short story, they realized they had the makings of
a movie, and decided to work together and create their own script.
"As a pair of struggling actors, we had read a lot of scripts
at least 500 a year," says Damon. "The only problem
is, when you're just starting out, a lot of the scripts you read
aren't that great, and you never even get to see the really great
scripts. So we thought we'd take a crack at writing one ourselves.
We just thought that it would be something fun and interesting
to try. But we never expected the process to yield such amazing
results we feel pretty lucky that things turned out as
they did. In the beginning, Good Will Hunting was just
two struggling actors sitting down to try their hand at writing;
the thought that all of this would lead us to work with Gus Van
Sant or Robin Williams never crossed our minds. Everything that's
happened, and the way people have responded to our work, is really
pretty amazing. "
Since it was their first script, and they were both primarily
performers, Damon and Affleck took an actor's approach to begin
the writing process: they improvised each scene together before
writing, building on their characters as they went along. "Basically,
we tried to make each other laugh," Damon recalls. "The
hard part was putting the story together. We finally realized
that you're supposed to have something happen when you write a
movie. The whole process was definitely a challenge."
"Then we looked over a few encyclopedias to make ourselves
sound more intelligent," adds Affleck with a grin. "When
we created Will Hunting, we asked ourselves such questions as
'What if you could read everything rapidly and retain it? What
if you could charm the perfect woman?' In our minds, Will was
a totally heroic character."
"The roadblock, in fact, was that he was too heroic, "
adds Damon. &quo
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