Answer: directors Terrence Malick and Rob Reiner played roles in shaping the script of Good Will Hunting?
Matt Damon revealed in a recent interview how he and eventual Oscar-winning writing partner Ben Affleck were able to land a dinner with Malick while they were penning the script for Good Will Hunting. Affleck’s godfather was friends with Malick and the director agreed to dinner. Damon and Affleck gave him a breakdown of the story and in return Malick gave a piece of advice that made the ending.
We just asked if we could have a meeting with him. We went to Boston to see him. And we had it in the script that my character and Minnie’s left together at the end of the movie. Terry didn’t ready the script but we explained the whole story to him, and in the middle of the dinner, he said, ‘I think it would be better if she left and he went after her.’ And Ben and I looked at each other. It was one of those things where you go: ofcourse that ‘s better. He said it and he probably doesn’t even remember that he said it. He started talking about Antonioni. ‘In Italian movies a guy just leaves town at the end and that enough.’ And we said of course that’s enough. That’s where we come from. If you just leave that’s a big enough deal. It doesn’t have to build up to anything more.
Damon also statedt that originally the script had a huge government conspiracy in it, until Rob Reiner recommended against it.
The original script that we sold had this high concept thing where the government was trying to get Will. Rob Reiner sat with us for script meeting and said ‘why don’t you guys take all that stuff out?’ Wait a minute. We can do that? ‘Yeah its enough just to make the movie about these guys. That’s a really good movie. That’s what we really love about it. And we said ‘we thought there was this whole high concept thing.’ ‘No you don’t need any of that’.
Gus Van Sant the films director even got in on the action by suggesting a radical departure from the original script.
At one point after Gus [Van Sant] became involved I was shooting The Rainmaker in Memphis and everyone came down for script meeting. Gus came down and said ‘I want to do a draft where Chucky, Ben’s character, dies on the construction site.’ And Ben and I were just mortified. ‘What are you talking about’ ‘I want him to get crushed like a bug.’ We said ‘Gus what are you talking about? You can’t just fucking smush Ben. That’s a terrible idea.’ Gus said ‘no I really want to see what would happen.’ So we did a whole new draft on weekends of The Rainmaker, when I wasn’t working, we would write, Ben and I did a whole draft, with a wake and everything. It was took a left turn and went into this other place. The scenes in a vacuum I thought were good, but we still didn’t like the idea, then Gus read it said ‘okay its a terrible idea let’s go back to what we had.’
Good Will Hunting remains an awesome movie and one that I can watch over and over again without it getting old. For more info about the films script head over to Shone’s site.
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