Fact: The original script to the Good Will Hunting movie in 1997 had a crazy random twist. Ben and Affleck did so to get a studio who cared.
Good Will Hunting (1997) is an American drama film starring acting legend Robin Williams, and other well-known actors including: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Minnie Driver, and more. The storyline opens with a mathematically gifted janitor named Will who works the halls of the infamous Ivy League school Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After solving a mathematical problem set by a professor that only a handful of people are capable of figuring out, he becomes subjected to an onslaught of mathematical academia produced by the professor. With Will suffering inner demons from years of child abuse, the professor tries to find out why this young punk is so defiant.
To understand what the young man is going through so that the professor can get to “the more important part”, the math, the professor enlists the help of a therapist (former college friends and roommates). Sean, played by Robin Williams, surmises that Will had a similar upbringing, and survived the same cruel jokes ‘life’ subjected upon him. Sean helps Will to see that he is the victim of those inner demons and to accept that it is not his fault.
The Good Will Hunting script was Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s first attempt as screenwriters, and the first time people really notice the two as serious actors. This script was serious and every studio wanted to make this film, as stated by Weinstein, who at the time ran Miramax films. But Damon and Affleck didn’t want just any studio for their film. They wanted a studio that was vested and deeply cared about the work that had been placed on the script.
To do this, Affleck and Damon concocted an out of place scene where their two lead characters Will and Chuckie randomly just go at it like two bunny rabbits. On page 60 of the script, the scene suddenly changes and best friends Will and Chuckie have a male on male love scene. They wrote the scene into the script to determine which company actually read the script, as if you read the first pages of the script, it’s very easy to come to the conclusion the two aren’t gay and that this scene sticks out.
It just so happened that Miramax films won the rights to distribute the film because Harvey Weinstein actually read the script and thought that scene-was a tad bit off. When Ben Affleck and Matt Damon met with Harvey Weinstein, after about 10 minutes, Weinstein stated,
“Guys, there’s just one thing on the script … I just have one really big note. About page 60, the two professors give each other oral and they’re on their knees and this whole big intimate scene. What the hell is that? Because the guys are straight, and there’s no hint of anything like that … I don’t get that scene.'”
Originally, the two had sold the rights of the film to Castle Rock, but over time the two became irritated because they felt Castle Rock was actually reading their re-writes. They stated,
“We were so frustrated that Castle Rock wasn’t reading the script, so we felt like we had to develop this test,” Affleck told Boston Magazine in 2013. “We started writing in screen direction like, ‘Sean talks to Will and unloads his conscience.’ And then: ‘Will takes a moment and then gives Sean a soulful look and leans in and starts blowing him’ … We would turn that in, and they wouldn’t ever mention all those scenes where Sean and Will were jerking each other off.”
In 2015, Affleck and Damon told ‘The Graham Norton Show’ they did this stuff a lot because they were convinced no one was reading their re-writes. Damon stated to Norton that the particular scene was,
“gayer than anything in Liberace.”
One could say that the scene won not only Affleck and Damon an Oscar, but also Robin Williams.
“Who are these guys?”
It would be the first job in which Robin Williams stuck to lines, not ad-libbing. But that didn’t stop legend Robin from sneaking in a few lines. During the shooting of one of the therapist sessions Will has with Sean, they share in some uncontrollable laughter after Robin ad-libs his characters dead wife’s gastric explorations. None of which was ever written into the script, but was left because it brought needed comedy relief to the scene.
Due to the random explosion of mental throw-up Williams spews into the air, everyone including the cameramen, were unable to control themselves from the laughter, which caused the camera in the scene to shake. And can still be viewed below.
In conclusion, the initial Good Will Hunting script handed to a production company is never the same product one would see as the finished product. It first must bleed and cry a little. It must make all those in the party happy, even if some might actually become broken. All of us put our hearts and souls into the things that really matter to us. In the case of Affleck and Damon, especially so early on in their career, so deeply cared about the content they were writing. To have their hard work skimmed or skipped over was really a slap to the face.
Their actions hopefully have made a major impact in the movie industry, and hopefully more so carried over into other industries as well. It’s a lesson to those that take things at face value, ‘that if you do not care for our work, we will simply not supplement you our business,’ rather give the team willing to invest in the person and their product. Maybe… big business does have something to lose.
The fact of the matter is that this story has a bigger mission to its readers than just a little slight of writers experiment, but rather exploits a major flaw in most of societies thinking. With the emergence of social medias and second by second journalism, society has been inundated with an explosion of information. What does this amount to? The simple fact that we as information gathering and instantaneous satisfactory individuals have started to skim and even skip reading the important body of informative materials, which has now led to gross assumptions and exaggerations. Simply put, we have now started to accept things at face value and sometimes make a falsity of accusations.
- Sieczkowski, Cavan. (2015, January 30). The Huffington Post. Yes, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon Put A Gay Sex Scene In ‘Good Will Hunting’ Script. Retrieved 19 April 2016 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/30/good-will-hunting-gay-sex-scene_n_6581054.html
- Good Will Hunting. (2016, April 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:49, April 19, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Good_Will_Hunting&oldid=715764616
- Good Will Hunting (1997). N.d. In Internet Movie Database (IMDB). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119217/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv
- BBC America. (2015, Mar 15). The Graham Norton Show. Harvey Weinstein on Good Will Hunting’s hidden scene. Retrieved 2016 April 19 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=623Es9ZYmt8
- Canceriansoul. (2011, Jan 15). Youtube. Good Will Hunting – Idiosyncrasies. Retrieved 2016 April 19 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8mn3nLPSMY