Good Will Hunting is a 1997 film directed by Gus Van Sant set in greater Boston, Massachusetts, which tells the story of Will Hunting, a troubled young prodigy who works as a janitor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology even though his knowledge of and facility with mathematics is superior to that of all of the school's faculty. Will must come to the realization that his abusive past is not his fault so that he can let go of the past and move on with his life. Good Will Hunting shows the story of a young man as he struggles to love his inner-self so that he can love others and start using his unique intellectual potential.
The movie was written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The widely-spread rumor that Good Will Hunting was written by legendary screenwriter William Goldman was refuted in Goldman's book Which Lie Did I Tell? as a joke that got out of hand.
It is often compared to J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye, and some claim that it was written with a certain amount of influence from the novel. The protagonist of the movie also has notable similarities to Srinivasa Ramanujan or to the late George Dantzig.
The film is dedicated to the memory of Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs (see movie credits).
- Matt Damon: Will Hunting
- Robin Williams: Sean Maguire
- Ben Affleck: Chuckie Sullivan
- Stellan Skarsgård: Gerald Lambeau
- Minnie Driver: Skylar
- Casey Affleck: Morgan O'Mally
- Cole Hauser: Billy McBride
Making the film
Good Will Hunting was directed and produced by Gus Van Sant in 1996. The setting of the movie was shot in the Great Boston Area, including bar scenes reflecting parts of downtown Boston ("Southie"). Originally, Mel Gibson had agreed to produce and direct this movie, but as Gus Van Sant read the script, he became eager to direct it. Matt Damon loved Van Sant's direction in other movies, including Drugstore Cowboy, released in 1989. Matt especially liked Van Sant's dry direction in dealing with emotions of complex characters. The movie was shot in under 5 months and was released in 1997.
Set in South Boston (Southie), Good Will Hunting is about Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a young man who immersed himself in books to release his anger and frustration with his abusive foster family. Will and his friend Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck) are two drifters who hang out together with their friends, drinking and fighting in Southie. Will works as a janitor, construction worker, auto mechanic, and in other low-end jobs, hiding his genius and talents for memorizing facts and solving complex math equations (including Parseval's theorem).
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