Skip to main content

#019 Gus Van Sant: Good Will Hunting vs. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Download MP3
In today's episode Nate and Austin compare Gus Van Sant's best and worst rated films, Good Will Hunting (1997) and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993), respectively. Austin and Nate try to figure out how the hell one of these movies got made, and talk about how much they loved Robin Williams' performance -- as always. Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood (2007) and Inherent Vice (2014), his best and worst rated films. This is our milestone 20th episode, and as such we will be joined by a special guest -- Brandon Calvillo of Vine fame, who will also be in a movie coming out in July called FML. Find him on Twitter @BJCalvillo. Nate was recently a guest on The Watch and Talk, where they discussed the new release of Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping. Check it out HERE, and find The Watch and Talk on Twitter @TheWatchAndTalk.

And check out Robin Williams' Oscar acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting:

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Notes
Worst Rated
PLOT: Sissy Hankshaw is born with enormous thumbs that help her hitchhiking through the US from a young age.
  • Ratings: IMDb 4.3 | RT 22% C / 27% A
  • Released: 1993
  • Director: Gus Van Sant
  • Writer(s): Gus Van Sant (screenplay), Tom Robbins (novel)
  • Cinematographer: John J. Campbell, Eric Alan Edwards
  • Notable actors: Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, Pat Morita, Angie Dickinson, Keanu Reeves, John Hurt, Rain Phoenix, Ed Begley Jr., Sean Young, Crispin Glover, Roseanne Barr, Heather Graham,
  • Budget: $8 million
  • Box office: $1.7 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • This film was dedicated to the late River Phoenix, who is said to have a small nameless cameo in the film.
    • Jodie Foster wanted to play the lead.
    • Gary Oldman was originally cast as Julian Gitche.
    • Elizabeth Taylor signed on to play Miss Adrian but backed.
    • Madonna was originally cast as Delores Del Ruby.

Good Will Hunting Notes
Best Rated
PLOT: Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.
  • Ratings: IMDb 8.3 | RT 97% C / 94% A
  • Released: 1997
  • Director: Gus Van Sant
  • Writer(s): Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
  • Cinematographer: Jean-Yves Escoffier
  • Notable actors: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Stellan Skarsgard, Minnie Driver, Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser
  • Budget: $10 million
  • Box office: $225.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Matt Damon and Ben Affleck found a clever way to choose the right studio for their script: the story goes that on page 60 of the script, they wrote a completely out-of-nowhere sex scene between Will and Chuckie. They took it to every major studio, and nobody even mentioned the scene. When they met with Harvey Weinstein at Miramax, he said, "I only have one really big note on the script. About page 60, the two leads, both straight men, have a sex scene. What the hell is that?" - Damon and Affleck explained that they put that scene specifically in there to show them who actually read the script and who didn't. As Weinstein was the only person who brought it up, Miramax was the studio chosen to produce the film.
    • After the 2014 death of Robin Williams, the Boston Public Garden park bench where he and Matt Damon had their conversation scene, became an impromptu memorial site for the actor with people leaving flowers, quotes and various items at the bench. A petition has been passed around to erect a statue in Williams' memory near the bench.
    • Casey Affleck ad libbed most of his lines. This frustrated Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Gus Van Sant during filming - but they later admitted that Casey's improvised lines were much funnier and better than what had been originally written for him.
    • The scene where Sean and Will are in his office, and Sean starts talking about his dead wife and her farting antics. These lines were ad-libbed by Robin Williams, which is why Matt Damon is laughing so hard. If you watch the scene carefully you can notice the camera shaking, probably due to the cameraman laughing as well.
    • The very first day of the shooting, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck started crying out of happiness, because it was a scene between Robin Williams and Stellan SkarsgΓ₯rd, accomplished actors, doing Damon's and Affleck's scene verbatim and they had waited so long (four years) for this to happen.
    • Director Gus Van Sant at one point asked Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to rewrite the script so that Chuckie is killed in a construction accident. Damon and Affleck protested, but reluctantly wrote the scene in. After Van Sant read it, he agreed that it was a terrible idea.
    • When Robin Williams won the Oscar for his supporting role, he sent Peer Augustinski, who dubbed his voice in German, a small replica of the Oscar statue with a note saying, "Thank you for making me famous in Germany."
    • Minnie Driver's character Skylar is named after Damon's girlfriend, Skylar Satenstein, who left Damon for Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich before filming began. Damon and Driver became romantically involved during production.
    • Initially, producer Harvey Weinstein did not want Minnie Driver at all for the role of Skylar, feeling she wasn't cute enough for the part. Because Gus, Matt and Ben wanted her in the movie, Weinstein ultimately relented and Driver went on to be nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
    • Gus Van Sant painted the picture that hangs in Sean Maguire's (Robin Williams) office.

  Intro music:  when - Stephan Siebert / CC BY 3.0 Outro music: Calm The Fuck Down - Broke For Free / CC BY 3.0  

Check out this episode!