Good Will Hunting is a 1997 American drama movie, directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Robert Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver and Stellan Skarsgard. Written by Affleck and Damon, the movie follows 20 year old South Boston laborer Will Hunting, an unrecognized genius who, as part of a deferred prosecution agreement after assaulting a police officer, becomes a client of a therapist and studies advanced mathematics with a renowned professor. Take a look below for 30 more fun and interesting facts about Good Will Hunting.
1. The movie grossed over $225 million during its theatrical run, from a $10 million budget.
2. Good Will Hunting was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture, and won two: Best Supporting Actor for Robin Williams and Best Original Screenplay for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
3. In 2014, the movie was ranked at number 53 in The Hollywood Reporter’s 100 Favorite Films list.
4. After the 2014 death of Robin Williams, the Boston Public Garden park bench where he and Matt Damon had their conversation scene, became an impromptu memorial site for the actor with people leaving flowers, quotes and various items at the bench. A petition has been passed around to erect a statue in Williams’ memory near the bench.
5. When Robin Williams and Matt Damon were shooting the scene on the bench in the Public Garden, it seems like they’re the only people in the park. Robin Williams being a massive star, there were, at one point, over 3,000 people out there watching the scene.
6. The lines in the scene when Sean talks about his late wife’s farting antics were ad-libbed by Robin Williams. This is why Matt Damon was laughing so hard. If you watch the scene carefully, you can notice the camera shaking a bit, possibly due to the cameraman laughing as well.
7. Casey Affleck ad-libbed most of his lines. This frustrated Matt Damn, Ben Affleck and Gus Van Sant during filming, but they later admitted that Casey’s improvised lines were much funnier and better than what had been originally written for him.
8. When Robin Williams read the script via Francis Ford Coppola and really like it, his one question for Coppola was, “Who are these guys?”
9. Initially, producer Harvey Weinstein didn’t want Minnie Driver at all for the role of Skylar, feeling that she wasn’t cute enough for the part. Because Gus, Matt and Ben wanted her in the movie, Weinstein ultimately relented, and Driver went on to be nominated for a Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar.
10. When Matt Damon was in his fifth year at Harvard, he was in a playwriting class. The culmination of it was to write a one-act play, and he just started writing a movie, which, with the help of Ben Affleck, became Good Will Hunting.
11. When Robin Williams won the Oscar for his supporting role, he sent Peer Augustinski, who dubbed his voice in German, a small replica of the Oscar statue with a note saying, “Thank you for making me famous in Germany.”
12. According to Matt Damon, Robin Williams’ best addition is the last line of the movie.
13. Minnie Driver’s character Skylar is named after Matt Damon’s girlfriend, Skylar Satenstein, who left Damon for Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich before filming began. Damon and Driver became romantically involved during production.
14. Gus Van Sant, at one point, asked Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to re-write the script, so that Chuckie is killed in a construction accident. Damon and Affleck protested, but reluctantly wrote the scene in. After Van Sant read it, he agreed that it was a terrible idea.
15. Gus Van Sant painted the picture that hangs in Sean Maguire’s office.
16. The phone number printed on the sign for the construction company, that they are working for, is the actual phone number of a Woburn, Massachusetts construction company, that Matt Damon worked for while going to high school in Cambridge.
17. When Will and Sean meet for the first time in Sean’s office, Will recommends that Sean read Howard Zinn’s “People’s History of the United States.” As a boy, Matt Damon, who plays Will, was Zinn’s neighbor, and provided the voice for the CD recording of that book.
18. According to Matt Damon, when the project was set up at Castle Rock Entertainment, all he and Ben Affleck had heard for the casting over them, was “Leo and Brad,” referring to Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.
19. The job interview, on which Will sends Chuckie, is for a company called Holden & McNeil. Ben Affleck’s character in Chasing Amy is named Holden McNeil.
20. In a Boston Magazine retrospective interview, Ben Affleck mentioned that he and Matt Damon wrote the prat of Sean Maguire with Morgan Freeman or Robert De Niro in mind, and he and Damon would imitate their voices when reviewing the dialogue in the script.
21. Sean’s office is set up like a baseball diamond, with four chairs representing the bases, and a table in the middle, like a pitcher’s mound. This is most noticeable during the Carlton Fisk homerun reenactment.
22. The mathematical equations seen in the opening credits are part of a math technique called “Fourier Analysis” which approximates functions by sines and cosines. It’s used a lot in physics and engineering.
23. When Will is mopping the floor at the beginning of the movie, his name tag identifies him as “Bob” rather than “Will.”
24. Sean Maguire was based on Matt Damon’s mother and Ben Affleck’s father, kind of a synthesis of the two.
25. The subway car Will rides in is a model that was retired in 1994. The MBTA took one out of mothballs, and cleaned it up for the production.
26. Mel Gibson was offered a chance to direct, even meeting with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Harvey Weinstein, but ultimately passed on directing.
27. Matt Damon was MIT’s 2016 commencement speaker. He commented in his speech that it was the second time that he fake-graduated from there.
28. To date, Good Will Hunting is the movie with the highest U.S. box office gross with Kevin Smith’s name attached to it. All his own movies, that he has written and directed, have not grossed more than $35 million at the U.S. box office.
29. The lecture hall in the movie is actually a lecture hall in McLennan Physical Laboratories; a building at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus, in Toronto, Ontario.
30. Morgan O’Malley says that the crew has run into a “barney” at the Harvard bar. Barney is Boston slang for a Harvard student.