Clerks director Kevin Smith didn’t believe he was qualified to direct Good Will Hunting. He was initially approached by Harvey Weinstein, and both the actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were eager for him to helm the project when the script was making rounds in the industry. However, Smith declined the offer and moved on to do something else.
However, the director didn’t completely abandon the project. He managed to convince Miramax to cast the talented duo who had written the script for the now Oscar-winning and timeless classic.
Kevin Smith Didn’t Think He Had the Talent to Direct Good Will Hunting
In an interview with Variety, director Kevin Smith revealed that he was initially approached to direct the now-classic Good Will Hunting. However, he didn’t believe he was qualified enough for the position and, thus, declined the offer. Despite the enticing prospect of it, considering the movie’s subsequent success at the box office, Smith doesn’t regret any of his decisions. He said,
“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 that 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.”
Moreover, even after decades, the director still doesn’t believe he possesses the qualities to direct such a complex yet beautiful film. Despite declining the opportunity to direct the film, he remains an avid fan of how Gus Van Sant played with its elements and turned it into his masterpiece. As he continued stating,
“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.”
The film is indeed a masterpiece in its own right. Fans now contemplate how it would have turned out if Kevin Smith had deemed himself worthy enough to be a part of the project.
This Is How Kevin Smith Saved Good Will Hunting
It is no secret that the talented duo, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, wrote the screenplay for Good Will Hunting and later received an Oscar for their efforts. The two also desired to star in the project, but convincing anyone to entrust such significant responsibilities all at once proved challenging. However, Kevin Smith managed to persuade Miramax to take the leap. Ben Affleck once revealed to Entertainment Weekly,
“Kevin saved Good Will Hunting, We were dead in the water. And we would’ve lost it. It would’ve been made with other people in it, and we’d still be really angry I’m sure. We would have been the writers, but we wouldn’t have been the actors,–And the whole thing was we wanted to be actors. And he got it to [executive producer] Jon Gordon and got people to believe in it.”
Although the director played a significant role in the film’s success, neither Affleck nor Damon publicly appreciated his efforts. However, Affleck took the moment to thank the director.
“I promised him I would thank him if we ever got an Oscar, and promptly forgot,–And then I told him if I ever win again, I swear to God, I’m going to thank you, and forgot again. So I owe him very much, and he did that. He believed. I remember he wrote me an email at the time and in typical Kevin fashion said, ‘I started your movie on the sh-tter. And I stayed on the whole time.'”
Thus, although the director didn’t believe he was talented enough to direct it, he understood the film’s vision and, moreover, believed in the creators of the project.
Good Will Hunting is currently available on Max to stream.