GOOD WILL HUNTING
With the cast in place, the challenge for the Good Will Hunting production team was to make it all happen, and fast
With the cast in place, the challenge for the Good Will Hunting
production team was to make it all happen, and fast. With only
five and onehalf weeks available to prep the film, producer
Lawrence Bender called upon Executive Producer Su Armstrong, who
miraculously pulled things together. "It's a blessed shoot
in that everything fell into place with a lot of hard work by
a great team," says Bender.
Says Armstrong, "Gus' way of directing, his focus and his
ability to see what people have to offer really opened my eyes,
because he really is incredibly talented and has such a clarity
of vision. And he brings with him a tremendously gifted and creative
team Production Designer Missy Stewart ("To
Die For," "Drugstore Cowboy"), Costume Designer
Beatrix Pasztor ("Excess Baggage," "To Die For")
and wizard Cinematographer JeanYves Escoffier ("Grace
of my Heart" "Gummo").
To direct Good Will Hunting, Van Sant used his classmates
and personal experiences at the Rhode Island School of Design
as a point reference for the scenes depicting M.I.T. and Harvard.
The students at the worldclass art school were gifted, high
strung and (usually) disturbed in some way, recalls Van Sant.
"Although film is a completely different area, a lot of the
classes at the School of Design were very technical, involving
math. Most of the students in my school were in different states
of being very advanced in their field. A lot of them had back
stories similar to the characters that we have in the film. My
school had the same kind of vibes, intensity and level of study.
So I just applied that to this particular screenplay."
Robin Williams sees Good Will Hunting as "a battle
of wills." It's a love story with four different parties
vying for Will's soul: a mathematician, a therapist, a girlfriend
and best friend, all basically trying to help him find himself.
There's so much going on in any given scene, it's layered in many
ways," says Williams. He prepared for his role by talking
to a teacher at Bunker Hill Community College and hanging out
at a couple of tough bars in South Boston, where he picked up
a bluecollar South Boston Irish accent. "My character's
a combination of a few different people from Southie (South Boston).
Talking to them and getting a feel for the neighborhood was really
Van Sant had wanted to work with Damon ever since he auditioned
him for a role in "To Die For." "But back then
I needed an actor who was a wasted, weird hillbilly, and Matt
was too goodlooking. In Good Will Hunting, he fits
just right. I thought the character should be seen as a vulnerable
person, in trouble of some kind. I think that Matt has a quality
that relates to that. He has a sort of misguided feeling in his
eyes, like there's a pain in there somewhere. Sometimes we played
that quality. I found Matt really easy to work with and extremely
cooperative. What Matt really wants from me is a second opinion,
before he goes out and does what he wants anyway."
The cast lavished similar praise on director Van Sant. "As
a director, Gus is very relaxed, and has a tremendous ability
to make you feel at ease. He is a director you can really trust
and learn from," says Affleck.
"Gus is like a European director," says Skarsgard. "He's
so full of trust and lets you have the time you want to explore
the scenes, to investiga
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