Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
New Images Of Kristen Stewart In Stoner Comedy 'American Ultra' And Sci-Fi 'Equals' New Images Of Kristen Stewart In Stoner Comedy 'American Ultra' And Sci-Fi 'Equals' ‘Game Of Thrones’ Will Probably End After Season 8, But HBO Is Open To Prequels & More ‘Game Of Thrones’ Will Probably End After Season 8, But HBO Is Open To Prequels & More The 25 Best Action Movies Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Action Movies Of The 21st Century So Far Relativity Puts 'Jane Got A Gun' And More Up For Sale As They Fight Off Bankruptcy Relativity Puts 'Jane Got A Gun' And More Up For Sale As They Fight Off Bankruptcy Zack Snyder Says Batman Has A "Crisis Of Conscience" In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Plus New Pics Zack Snyder Says Batman Has A "Crisis Of Conscience" In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Plus New Pics Venice 2015 Line-Up: 'Equals' With Kristen Stewart, 'Beasts Of No Nation,' 'The Danish Girl,' More Venice 2015 Line-Up: 'Equals' With Kristen Stewart, 'Beasts Of No Nation,' 'The Danish Girl,' More Watch: 4-Minute Tribute To Lars von Trier's Masterful Film Work Watch: 4-Minute Tribute To Lars von Trier's Masterful Film Work New 'Deadpool' Images, Ryan Reynolds Distances Himself From 'X-Men: Origins' New 'Deadpool' Images, Ryan Reynolds Distances Himself From 'X-Men: Origins' TIFF Images: Emma Watson In 'Colonia,' Brie Larson In 'Room,' Charlie Kaufman's 'Anomalisa' And More TIFF Images: Emma Watson In 'Colonia,' Brie Larson In 'Room,' Charlie Kaufman's 'Anomalisa' And More Richard Linklater Frontrunner To Direct 'The Rosie Project' Starring Jennifer Lawrence Richard Linklater Frontrunner To Direct 'The Rosie Project' Starring Jennifer Lawrence Watch: Blu-Ray Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' Plus 11 New Clips From The Film Watch: Blu-Ray Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' Plus 11 New Clips From The Film The 10 Best And 5 Worst Tom Cruise Performances The 10 Best And 5 Worst Tom Cruise Performances Watch: New Trailer For 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Blu-ray Release Explores Who Killed The World Watch: New Trailer For 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Blu-ray Release Explores Who Killed The World Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More The 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 So Far The 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Mel Gibson Eyed Directing 'Good Will Hunting,' Kevin Smith Turned It Down But Brought It To Miramax

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 3, 2013 at 3:23PM

For those of you already well versed in the history of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's Oscar-winning breakout film "Good Will Hunting," this will be old news. But for everyone else, this will be a couple of interesting bits of "What Could Have Been..."
1
Good Will Hunting Mel Gibson Kevin Smith

For those of you already well versed in the history of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's Oscar-winning breakout film "Good Will Hunting," this will be old news. But for everyone else, this will be a couple of interesting bits of "What Could Have Been..."

Fifteen years ago this month, all the way back in 1998, "Good Will Hunting" went into wide release and to commemorate the occasion, Boston Magazine gathered together the principals for an oral history on the making of the movie, and it's a fascinating read. Along the way, there are some interesting tidbits about who almost directed the movie before Gus Van Sant came on board. And among them was Kevin Smith, who Affleck had already worked with on "Mallrats," and he helped kick open a very important door.

"Ben gave it to Kevin Smith and said, 'Will you please save us? Will you direct this movie?' " Matt Damon recounted, as the movie had stalled at Castle Rock. "And Kevin read the script and was unbelievably kind. I still remember the message. He said, 'I wouldn’t dare direct this movie, this is so beautiful.' Kevin went in personally to Harvey Weinstein’s office at Miramax and handed him the script, and basically said, 'Drop everything you’re doing right now and read this.' "

"Kevin said, 'I read it on the toilet, and I stayed on the toilet the whole time because I was so into the script.' We had a lead that Harvey might do it from Kevin, and then we just attacked. And he said yes, and it really felt like a miracle," Affleck added. But once it was in Harvey's hands, after he picked it up for a cool $1 million, another bigger name (at the time) was first attached to helm the movie.

"We met with Mel Gibson, and 'Braveheart' had just come out, and was as hot as could be," Affleck said. "But we hadn’t seen 'Braveheart' and Harvey was like, 'YOU HAVEN’T SEEN BRAVEHEART? FUCKING LIE TO HIM AND TELL HIM YOU LOVE BRAVEHEART.' So the first thing we said was, 'We just want to tell you how much we loved Braveheart!' "

But as things sometimes go, development began to stretch out, and the screenwriters started to get antsy. "Mel Gibson developed it for a few months," producer Chris Moore said. "Matt at one point said directly to Gibson, 'Look, man. We’re getting too old. If this keeps going by, Ben and I can’t play these parts. Is there any chance you’d just let it go?' And to Mel’s credit, he said, 'I totally understand what you’re saying.' That was a real stand-up thing to do."

Eventually, Gus Van Sant (who had directed Ben's brother Casey Affleck in "To Die For") came on the project, but things still weren't moving...until Damon got cast in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Rainmaker." Affleck and Damon's agent Patrick Whitesell explains, "That was the period of time when Grisham was the biggest thing in Hollywood. It validated the fact that Matt was a leading man." So Harvey's reaction is understandable.

"I sent Harvey a fax that literally said, 'Dear Harvey, I am the Rainmaker.' He called me and he was like, 'What does that mean?' He thought I was getting a lawyer or something," Damon recounted. "I was like, 'No man, I got the Coppola movie, they cast me as the lead.' And Harvey goes, 'THE GRISHAM MOVIE? THOSE THINGS MAKE $100 MILLION!' " And with Robin Williams throwing his hat in as well, the movie was greenlit and history was made.

Read the full report over at Boston Magazine, but one tidbit you won't find in there: Terrence Malick gave Affleck and Damon story notes on the film. For real.

This article is related to: Good Will Hunting, Mel Gibson, Kevin Smith, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates