How Kevin Smith and Mel Gibson Almost Directed 'Good Will Hunting'

How Kevin Smith and Mel Gibson Almost Directed 'Good Will Hunting'

Jan 04, 2013


They're older, wiser and Hollywood stars now, but every time you get that unsavory bro-dude vibe from Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, remember that they wrote the wonderful Good Will Hunting directed by Gus Van Sant. The Oscar-winning film about a brilliant Southie finding a new direction in his life has an interesting backstory, and Boston Magazine recently reunited the cast and crew to record an oral history on the making of the movie in honor of its 15th anniversary.
Most people probably aren't aware that Kevin Smith had a hand in bringing the project to fruition. "Ben gave [the script] to Kevin Smith and said, 'Will you please save us? Will you direct this movie?' And Kevin read the script and was unbelievably kind," Damon relates. "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.'" Affleck added: "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."
When the writing duo started meeting with directors, they spoke to none other than Mel Gibson. Affleck explained: "We met with Mel Gibson, and Braveheart had just come out, and was as hot as could be. But we hadn’t seen Braveheart and Harvey was like, 'YOU HAVEN’T SEEN BRAVEHEART? F*CKING 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!'" Gibson agreed to develop the film, but things dragged on, and eventually the actor-director gracefully bowed out.
You can read the full story on the Boston Magazine website, but an additional surprise tidbit that the Playlist adds to the mix is that Terrence Malick provided Damon and Affleck with story notes. You can catch up with that over here.

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