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How Do You Like That? Terrence Malick Gave Ben Affleck & Matt Damon Notes On 'Good Will Hunting'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist January 6, 2011 at 3:12AM

Plus Barry Pepper Talks The Untitled Malick DramaThe renaissance of Ben Affleck continues apace. After some impressive supporting roles in the likes of "Hollywoodland" and "Extract" and a burgeoning directorial career, the actor -- whose career was not so long ago in severe trouble -- booked a role in Terrence Malick's untitled new drama. It's a part any actor dreams of having, and as it turns out, Affleck and Malick aren't complete strangers.
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Plus Barry Pepper Talks The Untitled Malick Drama



The renaissance of Ben Affleck continues apace. After some impressive supporting roles in the likes of "Hollywoodland" and "Extract" and a burgeoning directorial career, the actor -- whose career was not so long ago in severe trouble -- booked a role in Terrence Malick's untitled new drama. It's a part any actor dreams of having, and as it turns out, Affleck and Malick aren't complete strangers.

Journalist Tom Shone, who recently interviewed Affleck's BFF Matt Damon, has printed a few excerpts from the chat on his blog (via IFC) that relate specifically to the genesis of "Good Will Hunting," the script that Damon and Affleck co-wrote and that launched the duo to stardom.

Aside from the revelation that director Gus Van Sant commissioned an ending in which Affleck's character would be "crushed like a bug," Damon also reveals that Affleck's godfather is 'best friends' with Terrence Malick, and that the then-aspiring scribes were, as a result, able to receive notes from the maestro on "Good Will Hunting," and that the legendary helmer proved to have a vital impact on the final film.

Damon relates:


“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: of course 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."

It's an unsurprisingly smart note from Malick, even if it'll likely start up the 'Damon and Affleck didn't really write "Good Will Hunting"' rumors that were so popular in the late '90s (veteran scribe William Goldman was alleged by some, presumably the ancestors of those who leave comments under Deadline articles, to have penned the script, something Goldman himself denied and that we can hopefully all discount at this stage...), and suggests that the director's long thought about casting Affleck in a project, which has now thankfully come to fruition.

Speaking of, Barry Pepper talked to Collider about the Malick drama, and revealed that despite having wrapped on the project, he's yet to read a script: "I honestly couldn't tell you what the film is about, because I've never read the script.... But I think that I'm not saying anything beyond what's already very commonly known about him is he's just this absolutely "in the moment" filmmaker, like chasing the sun for his light, you know no lights and no script, and just asking you to really invest yourself in creating a character that intersects with your own heart and your sensibilities."

Pepper also reveals that his character never meets Affleck's in the project, and semi-jokingly says that it may see the light of day "in a couple of years or so." Well, at least we've got "The Tree of Life" in the meantime -- that film hits theaters on May 27th, by which time you'll probably know the excellent trailer by heart.

This article is related to: Films, Actors, Terrence Malick, Gus Van Sant, '90s Films, Barry Pepper, Good Will Hunting


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