GOOD WILL HUNTING
The Good Will Hunting casting process began with Damon and Affleck, who each assumed the roles they had improvised while writing: Damon as Will Hunting, and Affleck as Chuckle, Will's best friend and fellow townie
The Good Will Hunting casting process began with Damon
and Affleck, who each assumed the roles they had improvised while
writing: Damon as Will Hunting, and Affleck as Chuckle, Will's
best friend and fellow townie. For the two lifelong friends, the
casting represented a tradeoff of sorts: Damon got to play
the lead and win the girl, while Affleck got the best jokes. Says
Affleck, "My character embodies all the things about the
part of Will's life that he's known up until then. Chuckle has
the moral authority to lecture Will about his life in a way that
other people don't, because they share the same upbringing."
With these two key characters already casted, the search began
for an actor to play Sean, the psychologist who grapples with
Will Hunting's problems. That search began and ended when the
script reached the hands of Robin Williams, an actor hailed for
both his comic genius and his ability to take on dramatic character
roles. Bender heard that Williams was very interested in the project;
so was Williams' agent, who told the actor point blank, "This
is your next film." When Williams signed on to play Sean,
Damon and Affleck went into a state of shock. "We were overwhelmed.
It was like winning the lottery," says Affleck. Williams
not only admired Van Sant personally and professionally, but thought
that Sean was a fascinating character in a fascinating dramatic
piece. The catch? Shooting would have to start in five and onehalf
weeks (partially in Toronto, the remainder in Boston), when Williams
had a window in his jampacked schedule. That accelerated
the casting process to fill another pivotal role: Skylar, the
beautiful Harvard student who becomes the object of Will's affection.
To the filmmakers, the role seemed a natural fit for talented
Minnie Driver, who had already built a successful career as the
romantic leading lady in such films as "Circle of Friends,"
"Sleepers" and "Grosse Pointe Blank." On her
first reading, Driver was instantly taken with the Good Will
Hunting script. "I could see it had been written by gifted
actors, because the characters were so developed," she recalls.
"What's interesting about this film is that it's more about
Will coming to terms with the gift that he's been given than the
gift happening. It's established from the very beginning that
he has to come to terms with his life before he can continue.
It's inspiring and real."
Determined to make Skylar's role her own, Driver flew to New York
and auditioned in three different, yet flawless, accents: Irish,
American and English. "Minnie blew us away. She had both
the ability to play the sexy, cute college girl, and the power
to go up against Will," recalls Bender. Faced with the choice
of three accents, Van Sant decided to go with Driver's normal
English accent, making Good Will Hunting the first time
she's used her own accent in an American movie.
"I think Gus likes naturalism," says Driver, who describes
her character as "a complete alien in Americaposh,
English, rich, educated and utterly divorced from Will's entire
life. Skylar and Will are such a bizarre juxtaposition. Yet they
come together and have a real connection."
For her role, Driver sports a sleek new look; she alone decided
to have her significantly voluminous curly hair straightened,
a twohour job for the styli
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