Without Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting may have never been made.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, two barely known actors from Boston, faced an epic struggle to get their screenplay greenlit in Hollywood. The duo faced rejection upon rejection. But “Robin really was the rainmaker,” Affleck said just last year in an oral history about Good Will Hunting's rocky start.
On Tuesday, more than 15 years after the little film hit theaters, and a day after Williams took his own life, Affleck is again thankful for his late friend.
"He made Matt and my dreams come true," Affleck said in a Facebook tribute. “What do you owe a guy who does that? Everything.”
"Robin brought so much joy into my life and I will carry that joy with me forever," Damon wrote in a statement obtained by Yahoo Movies. "He was such a beautiful man. I was lucky to know him and I will never, ever forget him."
When Williams signed on to Good Will Hunting, he was one of Hollywood’s hottest tickets, just off Jumanji and The Birdcage — both huge box-office hits. He had wrapped Francis Ford Coppola’s fantastical comedy Jack, and he sparked to the guys who wrote the story of a therapist and an unlikely young genius. With Williams on board, the Weinstein Company gave the go-ahead to the project — which went on to earn Affleck and Damon an Academy Award for Best Screenplay and Williams the Oscar for his supporting role.
Watch Williams Win His Oscar:
"Thank you, Ben and Matt," a breathless Williams said during his 1998 acceptance speech as his two overjoyed Hunting costars looked on. “I still want to see some ID,” he added, continuing a long-running joke he’d established with Affleck and Damon from the start of the film.
Affleck admitted in his Facebook post that he is “heartbroken” over Williams’s death and went on to express his enduring gratitude to the late entertainer. “Thanks, Chief — for your friendship and for what you gave the world. Robin had a ton of love in him. He personally did so much for so many people… May you find peace, my friend.”
Watch Damon and Affleck Backstage at the 1998 Oscars:
Photo credit: Everett Collection