- courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Believe it or not, it’s been 15 years since Good Will Hunting came out of nowhere to turn Matt Damon and Ben Affleck into Oscar winners and ginormous movie stars. The story behind the 1997 film has since become filmmaking legend; the kind of thing aspiring actors tell to one another late at night in cramped West Hollywood apartments: If we write our own script and say his name three times, Harvey Weinstein will appear at midnight and make us famous!
New to Blu-ray this week, GOOD WILL HUNTING: 15th ANNIVERSARY EDITION adds some terrific retrospective features to a movie that’s worth watching again.
The story is part of Hollywood lore now: Damon and Affleck were struggling L.A. actors when they wrote and sold their screenplay about a South Boston boy genius, which eventually found a home with Weinstein’s Miramax pictures. The boys had the temerity to cast themselves in the lead roles, and made it a condition of the deal that the parts could not be recast.
When director Gus Van Sant and A-list movie star Robin Williams signed on, Damon and Affleck were off to the races. The film was a huge commercial and critical success, and earned the two startled 20-somethings the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
The new Blu-ray package features a fascinating four-part retrospective on the making of the film, including interviews with Damon, Affleck, Williams, Van Sant, producer Chris Moore and fellow 1990s success story Kevin Smith. The mini-doc drops some interesting trivia and addresses some long-standing rumors.
The most persistent of which is that Damon and Affleck didn’t write the script at all. Or rather, that their original script was heavily doctored by the studio and marquee screenwriter William Goldman. Not so. While the original script was pitched as a thriller (the FBI tries to recruit Will as a codebreaker), Damon and Affleck handled all the rewrites that shifted the focus to Will’s relationships with his psychologist (Williams) and girlfriend (Minnie Driver).
More tidbits: Director Michael Mann passed on the script because he didn’t think Damon had movie star potential. Morgan Freeman was considered for the psychologist role. Many of the scenes between Williams and Damon were improvised, and Williams’ pitch-perfect walk-off gag (“Son of a bitch… He stole my line.”) was an inspired ad-lib.