Ben Affleck looks back on how Robin Williams taught him to be a star on Good Will Hunting. 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of Good Will Hunting, and Affleck’s career over the last 25 years has seen extraordinary opportunities to work with some of Hollywood’s most sought-after talent. But it all started with Good Will Hunting and Affleck’s time alongside Hollywood icon Robin Williams.
Released in 1997, Good Will Hunting established Affleck, who wrote the screenplay with Matt Damon, as a rising star in Hollywood. The film tells the story of Will Hunting (Matt Damon), an extraordinarily intelligent young man from South Boston, who works as a janitor at MIT. After being arrested, he is required to go to court-mandated therapy where he meets Dr. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), a mentor who changes his life. Now in his newest film, it’s Affleck who takes on the role of the mentor.
The Tender Bar follows the story of a young boy who grows up without a father, connecting with his uncle and the patrons in his uncle’s bar instead. In the film, Affleck plays Uncle Charlie and acts as a mentor to his young nephew. While promoting the film, Affleck spoke with Jake Hamilton on Jake’s Takes and discussed how he “wished he had known [Williams] his whole life,” and that Williams “made a massive impression on him” as a young man while they worked together on Good Will Hunting. Read the full quote below:
“I loved Robin. He was the first person that I really met or knew who was, like, “famous.” And we had just written this movie, and it was sort of amazing that it got made, and then Robin Williams–who was probably the biggest star around at that time–was in the movie. I mean, he did so much for us by believing in us and doing that movie, and also by how warm and lovely and how kind he was and collaborative. And I just thought, well if this guy can do it, and be kind to people and collaborate and work with people and care about them, and listen to them, I certainly can. You know, he was a really extraordinary, kind, loving guy and that to me is the legacy of Robin. That’s what his comedy was rooted in, kind of a basic goodness and humanity. I wish I had known him my whole life. I didn’t have that opportunity growing up, but when I did meet him, I was a pretty young guy. I was 24. It made a massive impression on me and I thought, okay, that’s how you do this. I’m going to spend my life trying to live up to this example.”
Even though it has been 25 years since they worked together, Williams continues to influence Affleck’s approach to being a star. Williams’ legendary work spanned nearly 40 years before his ԁеаtһ in 2014. Having worked in comedy and television before making the transition to movies, Williams became known for his quick wit and eccentric impressions, while also cementing his legacy as a dramatic actor.
Good Will Hunting earned nine Oscar nominations after its release, including a win for Williams in the Best Supporting Actor category. For Affleck and Damon, Good Will Hunting also earned them Oscars for Best Original Screenplay. And Affleck became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and eventually one of its best directors, earning his second Oscar for Argo in the Best Picture category. While Good Will Hunting opened many new opportunities for Ben Affleck, it sounds as though Williams’ collaboration and kindness while making the film has continued to leave a lasting impression on the star.