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GOOD WILL HUNTING

The Cast
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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