How Good Will Hunting Launched the Careers of Three Oscar Winners

Born on October 17, 1957 in The Bronx, Hollywood producer Lawrence Bender first made a name for himself producing cinematic legend Quentin Tarantino’s directorial debut Reservoir Dogs. However, a couple of years later he would triple that output when he produced Good Will Hunting.

Good Will Hunting is the story of a young Bostonian named Will Hunting who is from the wrong side of the tracks. Will works as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After solving a difficult mathematics problem that a renowned professor posted for his graduate students to solve, Hunting is outed as a genius who has been hiding his intellectual prowess in favor of living a blue collar life with his friends, who are the only true family he has ever known. Through interactions with the professor who takes Will under his wing, a therapist who helps him confront his past as a victim of domestic abuse and a Harvard student who forces him to face down his intimacy issues after they begin dating, Hunting comes of age as he decides whether to leave his blue collar life behind in favor of a lifestyle where he embraces his genius rather than hiding it.

There are several reasons that Good Will Hunting is my favorite Lawrence Bender film. First and foremost, it’s a great movie. The narrative is well-crafted, engaging and ultimately leads to the protagonist making a life-affirming decision that is satisfying, true to his character and inspiring. The second reason that Good Will Hunting is my favorite can be summed up in two words: Robin Williams. Robin gives a career-defining performance as Will’s therapist and is awarded with an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as a result.

The final reason that Good Will Hunting is my favorite Bender film is that it gave birth to the Damon-Affleck Dynasty. As a result of Good Will Hunting’s success, the world took notice of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Casey Affleck. For Matt and Ben in particular, Good Will Hunting was their passion project. They wrote the script, which earned them the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and Damon played the lead role of Will Hunting, earning him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. The Affleck siblings play two of Will Hunting’s friends in the film.

Following the success of Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Casey Affleck have gone on to have three of the most impressive careers in film history. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are two of the biggest movie stars in the world, with countless blockbusters and Oscar-worthy films on their resumes. In addition, Ben found success as a director, most notably for directing Best Picture winner Argo. Up until recently, Casey Affleck had put together a solid and respectable career as a character actor. However, in 2017, he took a big step toward becoming a household name like his brother and Damon when he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the film Manchester by the Sea.

Lawrence Bender is also no stranger to Oscar recognition. He has produced several award-worthy films, including Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Inglourious Basterds, Hacksaw Ridge and the aforementioned Good Will Hunting. Bender earned Academy Award nominations for Best Picture for his work on Good Will Hunting, Inglourious Basterds and Pulp Fiction.

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