Ben Stiller Was Almost 'Good Will Hunting's Director, But His Reason For Passing The Project Is Shocking
Ben Stiller has no regrets. JK — OK, maybe he has a few dozen or so. He's been recollecting on all that's happened in his life and all the roads left untaken, thanks to his new movie While We're Young. In the film, directed by Noah Baumbach (he did the indie favorite Frances Ha), Stiller plays a 40-something documentarian coping with the fact that he's now older than he once was. We like to call this a mid-life crisis. In a recent interview with Vulture, the 49-year-old celeb was asked that age-old question: is there anything you would do differently, if granted another shot? Turns out, for Ben Stiller, the answer is yes — and the thing is Good Will Hunting.
That's right: Stiller could've been up for a role in the Oscar-winning film from Gus Van Sant, but now we'll never know, and all because of a silly move on his part. As he said:
I remember my agent sent me the script for Good Will Hunting to direct, and I was like, 'Who are these guys, Affleck and Damon? And why are they attached to this project? No, thank you!' I mean, maybe I’d change that.
I mean, I don't want to judge him or anything, but...
Apparently he was too good for the then-26-year-old Matt Damon and 25-year-old Ben Affleck. At the time, Stiller was coming off of the hit film Reality Bites and Flirting With Disaster, while Damon and Affleck were only just starting their rise. As the writers of the script, they shared the 1998 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Their co-star Robin Williams, of course, went on to win Best Supporting Actor, though the film as a whole was nominated for a total of nine awards.
Good Will Hunting was the first film they ever wrote together, let alone individually. So it's understandable why Stiller wasn't aware of who they were. Although, he's certainly kicking himself a bit now. Everything still worked out for him, though. If anything, he'll always have Blue Steel.