The world first came to know Kevin Smith as the indie filmmaker responsible for the breakout hit movie Clerks. Following the film's release, Smith was Hollywood's golden boy, working closely with production studios writing and developing new content. It was at that time that Smith was brought a new film script titled Good Will Hunting, by a couple of newbie actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Recently, Smith explained to Variety why he passed on directing their movie, even though he had the chance to do so.
"I still don't think I would be good at making Good Will Hunting. Even 22 years on. Gus [Van Sant] knew exactly what to do with that. Harvey, at one point, when I brought the script in, he was like, "Why don't you direct it? You know the boys." And the boys were like, "Oh my God! You direct it." They were coming from Castle Rock and Andy Scheinman wanted to direct it, and I think they were like, anybody but Andy Scheinman."
"I watch that movie today and it still give me f-king chills, and the scene when he goes to knock on the door makes me cry. I did not have enough talent to pull it off then. Even now, I don't think I do. I was happy to help them get their stuff made. And can you believe it? At one point in my life, I had enough juice to help somebody else? But I was always in it to tell my stories."
Good Will Hunting was an offbeat film about a tortured young genius who preferred hanging out with his violent buddies and working a dead-end job rather than exploring his potential, until a series of therapy sessions with a psychiatrist changes his life. The movie featured then-unknown actors Damon and Affleck in the lead, Robin Willaims in an uncharacteristically serious role, and an angsty, foul-mouthed script.
And yet, despite its oddities, Smith recognized the genius of the film and was modest enough to hand it over to Gus Van Sant to direct, believing the latter would do a better job with the material than Smith himself could. It turned out to be the right call. Good Will Hunting went on to become a box-office hit, a cult classic, made stars out of Damon and Affleck, and got Williams an Oscar for the best supporting role.
It is difficult to imagine what Good Will Hunting would have looked like if Smith had listened to his ego and decided to direct the film himself. As it is, the filmmaker sounds happy with the limited role he had to play in getting the film made, and has gone on to have an illustrious career making many classic comedies, including Mallrats, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Chasing Amy. Making it one of those rare Hollywood behind-the-scenes stories that ended well for everyone involved. This news comes from Variety.