Ben Affleck reveals the filmmaker’s pivotal role in Gus Van Sant’s film

It is not news that Kevin Smith maintains a fantastic friendship with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon; two stars with whom he has collaborated on titles such as ‘Mallrats’, ‘Chasing Amy’ or the hilarious and blasphemous ‘Dogma’, in which they played exiles from heaven Bartleby and Loki. What is less known is that, apart from shared jobs, it was Smith himself who launched the acting duo to stardom.

The Indomitable Kevin Smith

In the mid-nineties, Affleck and Damon were raising ‘Good Will Hunting’; a feature film that they wrote with four hands and that Gus Van Sant would direct. Nevertheless, the couple did not want to limit themselves to signing the script; they also aspired to give life to Will and Chuckie in front of the cameras, as opposed to what the producers of the film had in mind.

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According to Ben Affleck himself during an interview with Entertainment Weekly, it was Kevin Smith, credited as co-executive producer, who managed to convince Jonathan Gordon and the rest of the investors that they had their perfect protagonists in front of their eyes.

“Kevin saved ‘Good Will Hunting.’ that [el productor ejecutivo] Jon Gordon believed in it.”

Kevin SmithBen Affleck

‘Good Will Hunting’ not only catapulted the careers and popularity ratings of Affleck and Damon; also helped them win an Oscar for best original screenplay that they forgot to thank to good Smith despite having promised him.

“I promised him I’d appreciate it if he ever won an Oscar, and I immediately forgot about it. Then I told him if I ever win it again, I swear to God, I’ll thank you, and I forgot again. So I owe him a lot. He did that, he believed. I remember he emailed me back then in typical Kevin style saying, ‘I started your movie when I was in the shit and stayed the whole time.'”

An essential piece

But Affleck not only has words of thanks for Kevin Smith, extolling the figure of a Robin Williams decisive for the film who, according to his co-star, displayed a collaborative spirit unbecoming of a legend of his stature.

“If you were going to make a movie with two first-timers who wrote it and are going to star in it, you’d think, ‘OK, how is this going to go?’ At the time, [Williams] he was the biggest star in the world, but he never seemed condescending, worried or impatient. He just came in with that collaborative spirit and embraced it. It was more like, ‘How have you been? What do you think? I think we should do it again tomorrow.’ I’d tell him, ‘Robin, you’ve done it 40 times. And they have all been great! We don’t need to shoot it again tomorrow, but he was redoing his monologue, putting all his heart and soul into it.”

Such is the world of cinema. A few precise words from the right person can drastically change the conception of a project that it would not have been the same with another cast linked to him. We don’t know if ‘Good Will Hunting’ won or lost with its protagonists; but what I can say for sure is that it contains some of the most emotional scenes that the medium has left us in recent decades.

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