Matt Damon recalls filming the iconic Good Will Hunting bench scene with Robin Williams

'I went back to that bench recently. It was nice to go back and think about him there.'

Jess Denham@jess_denham
Thursday 11 August 2016 12:48
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Robin Williams and Matt Damon in the famous Good Will Hunting 'bench scene'
Robin Williams and Matt Damon in the famous Good Will Hunting 'bench scene'

Robin Williams died two years today, leaving behind a legacy of some of the most brilliant performances ever seen in the movies.

Among his many much-loved roles was his Oscar-winning turn as therapist Sean Maguire in 1997’s Good Will Hunting, about a young MIT janitor with a gift for a mathematics who needs help from a psychologist to help him reach his potential and find direction in his life.

Williams’s co-star Matt Damon, who played the titular character, spoke about shooting one of the film’s most iconic scenes, the inspirational “bench scene” in which Sean tells Will to go out into the world and learn from real life experiences rather than just studying textbooks, in a recent interview for his new movie Jason Bourne.

“I had probably one or two lines in that whole scene. It was Robin’s scene,” he told JOE’s Paul Moore recently. “When he was just crushing it on the first take I just thought ‘This is going to be really good’.”

Damon added that he had visited the bench on a recent visit to Boston with his young family.

“I was back there recently and I went back to that bench,” he said. “It’s right there in Boston Commons and I walked over there with my family and we sat on the bench. The kids didn’t know, they’ve never seen the movie, they’re too young but it was nice to go back and think about him there.”

Below is the transcript from the memorable scene:

Will: So what’s this? A Taster’s Choice moment between guys? This is really nice. You got a thing for swans? Is this like a fetish? It's something, like, maybe we need to devote some time to?

Sean: I thought about what you said to me the other day, about my painting. Stayed up half the night thinking about it. Something occurred to me and I fell into a deep, peaceful sleep and haven't thought about you since. You know what occurred to me?

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Will: No.

Sean: You’re just a kid. You don't have the faintest idea what you’re talking about.

Will: Why, thank you.

Sean: It’s all right. You’ve never been out of Boston.

Will: Nope.

Sean: If I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling.

If I asked you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus of your personal favourites. You may even have been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy.

You’re a tough kid. If I asked you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right? “Once more unto the breach dear friends”. But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help.

I’d ask you about love and you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable, known someone that could level you with her eyes. Feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you, who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes that the terms ‘visiting hours’ don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.

When I look at you I don’t see an intelligent, confident man. I see a cocky, scared s***less kid. But you’re a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presumed to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my f***ing life apart.

You’re an orphan right? You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally, I don’t give a s*** about all that, because you know what, I can’t learn anything from you I can’t read in some f***king book.

Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don't wanna do that, do you, sport? You're terrified of what you might say.

Your move, chief.

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