'Good Will Hunting' director arrested for drink driving

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The Independent US

Gus Van Sant, the director whose films include My Own Private Idaho and Good Will Hunting, may be a favourite son of Portland, Oregon, but apparently that gives him no immunity from the local police when it comes to drinking and driving at Christmastime.

Officials in the Portland Police Bureau confirmed that Van Sant, 54, who lives in Portland and has set many of his films there, too, was arrested in the early hours of Thursday after an officer spotted his Porsche Cayenne SUV navigating a city street erratically without its headlights on.

After he was pulled over, Van Sant was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.19 per cent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 per cent in the state, said a police spokesman, Sergeant Brian Schmautz. He described him as exhibiting "glassy eyes, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol".

Van Sant was arrested and taken to a holding cell at Multnomah County jail, where he remained overnight. He has since been released but faces a court hearing on 17 January. There was no comment yesterday from the director or his film company.

The release of his gay-themed cult hit My Own Private Idaho in 1991, starring the late River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves, first established Van Sant as one of Hollywood's most respected directors. He was nominated for an Oscar for 1997's Good Will Hunting.

He is currently at work directing a new film, Paranoid Park, in and around Portland. Another film set in the city, Elephant, about a high school shooting, won top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003.