It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, or Robin Williams as their respective roles in classic drama movie Good Will Hunting. However, Damon shares that while he and Affleck were first writing the movie, the ideas they had for casting were very fluid, and could have been very different.
Sitting down to speak with GQ, Damon reflected on his work with Affleck on Good Will Hunting, and how the pair initially had other actors in mind for Robin Williams’ role.
“We wrote that movie specifically, Ben Affleck and I, because we wanted the parts as actors. And, at the time there was a really popular movie that we all loved called Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino’s first movie. And the story we had all heard was that because Harvey Keitel signed up for the movie Quentin got, I think it was half a million dollars. That was his budget and he could make the movie.
“So we wrote that part that Robin [Williams] eventually took, and we called it the Harvey Keitel part. We were looking for an actor that could get us money because Ben and I wanted to star in the move and we knew we were worth nothing. So we needed to get [a big name involved].
Damon went on to share some of the names the pair had initially come up with. “We wrote [the role] really open ended… We knew we could adjust it if Morgan Freeman or Denzel Washington wanted to come and play it… if Meryl streep took the part instead of a father-son relationship it could be a mother-son relationship. So we really left it open because we wanted to cast as wide a net as possible because were were just trying to get the movie made.”
While each of the names Damon mentions would have been intriguing in the role Williams went on to occupy, we can’t help but think that Williams’ unique magnetism was surely part of the reason why the ‘90s movie worked as well as it did.