More than a quarter of a century later, the cast of 'Good Will Hunting' is still remembered for their iconic performances in the 1997 film
Damon originally wrote the script in a playwriting class while he was a student at Harvard University; he later turned to longtime friend Affleck to help him develop the screenplay.
Directed by Gus Van Sant, the film was released in December 1997 to critical acclaim, leading to nine nominations at the 70th Academy Awards, including for Best Picture and Best Director. Damon and Affleck won for Best Original Screenplay, and Robin Williams took home the award for Best Supporting Actor.
Damon stars as Will Hunting, a math whiz who was recently paroled from jail and works as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He impresses professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård) when he solves a complicated math problem, but he is arrested again for attacking a police officer. Lambeau arranges for Will to avoid jail time if he studies mathematics under his supervision and attends psychotherapy sessions with Lambeau’s college roommate, Dr. Sean Maguire (Williams).
Damon and Affleck have maintained a close friendship and working relationship over the years, appearing on-screen together in movies like Chasing Amy (1997), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), The Last Duel (2021) and Air (2023), the first film from their production company Artists Equity.
The first-time screenwriters also developed a tight bond with Williams while filming the movie. "He did so much for us by believing in us and doing that movie, and also by how warm and lovely and kind he was and collaborative," Affleck said of Williams, who died in 2014 at age 63, in a 2021 interview with Jake's Takes.
To mark the movie's latest anniversary on December 5, here’s a look at the cast of Good Will Hunting, then and now.
Matt Damon as Will Hunting
Matt Damon stars as Will Hunting, a self-taught genius freshly paroled from jail.
Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Damon got his start in Mystic Pizza in 1988. He enrolled at Harvard that same year but left before completing his degree to pursue an acting career. He had several film roles, including in Courage Under Fire (1996), through the early to mid-1990s.
For Good Will Hunting, Damon and Affleck won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for their screenplay. Affleck was 25 at the time and holds the record for the youngest-ever winner of the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay; Damon was the second-youngest winner at 27. Damon also received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his performance.
"Sometimes those moments sneak up on you," he told GQ in 2021, recalling how he cried during their first day on set. "And that was another one of those moments we never thought was going to arrive. To see not only actors, but those actors, saying the stuff that we wrote, was like ... f---."
While filming Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams introduced Damon to Steven Spielberg, who cast him in the titular role in Saving Private Ryan (1998). Through the 2000s, he appeared in the Ocean’s film trilogy and starred as Jason Bourne in four Bourne films. He has since received three Academy Award nominations: Best Supporting Actor for Invictus (2009), Best Actor for The Martian (2015) and, as a producer, Best Picture for Manchester by the Sea (2016).
In April 2003, Damon met bartender Luciana Barroso in Miami while filming Stuck on You. The couple tied the knot in 2005 and welcomed three daughters together: Isabella, Gia and Stella. (Barroso has one daughter, Alexia, from a previous marriage.)
Damon told PEOPLE in 2019 that he had been unsuccessful in getting his girls to watch his films, including Good Will Hunting. “I am kind of trying to force them, it’s not working,” he said. “I’m like, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to see Good Will Hunting? You know your dad and Uncle Ben wrote it, right?’ ‘Yeah, Dad, I know.’ It’s like, ‘Nope.’ ”
Robin Williams as Dr. Sean Maguire
Robin Williams stars as Dr. Sean Maguire, a psychology teacher at Bunker Hill Community College.
Born in Chicago, Williams got his start performing stand-up comedy before finding fame as the alien Mork in Mork & Mindy from 1978 until 1982. His first starring film role was in Popeye in 1980.
Eight years later, Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting after previous nominations for his roles in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Fisher King (1991).
“This might be the one time I'm speechless. Thank you so much for this incredible honor. Thank you for putting me in a category with these four extraordinary men,” Williams said in his acceptance speech.
His impressive career also earned him multiple nominations and wins at the Emmy Awards, Golden Globes, Grammy Awards and more.
In addition to his acclaimed dramatic performances, he starred in comedy and family films, including Hook (1991), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) and Jumanji (1995). Williams also had a prolific career in animations, having voiced the Genie in Aladdin (1992) and several characters in Happy Feet (2006), among others.
He married Valerie Velardi in 1978 and became a father in 1983 when their son, Zachary Pym “Zak” Williams, was born. The couple divorced in 1988, and he married Marsha Garces the following year. Williams and Garces welcomed a daughter, Zelda Rae, that same year and a son, Cody Alan, in 1991. They divorced in 2010, and he married Susan Schneider in 2011.
On Aug. 11, 2014, Williams died by suicide in his California home at the age of 63. After his death, his representative shared that "he had been battling severe depression of late." An autopsy revealed that the actor had Lewy body dementia, the second-most common type of progressive dementia.
Ben Affleck as Chuckie Sullivan
Ben Affleck plays Chuckie Sullivan, Will Hunting’s best friend.
He was born in California but moved to Massachusetts with his family when he was 3 years old. Affleck's acting career began when he was just 9 in The Dark End of the Street (1981).
Affleck starred in a number of other movies through the 1990s and early 2000s, including comedies like Shakespeare in Love (1998) — alongside then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow — and dramas like Pearl Harbor (2001).
His directorial debut was marked by Gone Baby Gone in 2007, followed by The Town (2010), Argo (2012), Live by Night (2016) and Air (2023), all of which he also acted in. His other well-known credits include Gone Girl (2014) and as Bruce Wayne/Batman in several DC Extended Universe films.
Affleck was married to actress Jennifer Garner from 2005 until 2018. During their marriage, they welcomed three kids: Violet, Seraphina and Samuel. The couple announced their separation in 2015 and finalized their divorce three years later.
Stellan Skarsgård as Gerald Lambeau
Stellan Skarsgård plays Gerald Lambeau, a mathematics professor at MIT.
Skarsgård’s first major role was in the Swedish television show Bombi Bitt, which made him a teen idol. Throughout the 1970s, he appeared in several Swedish films before his American film debut in Noon Wine (1985).
He is well known for his longtime friendship and collaboration with Danish director Lars von Trier, including in his movies Breaking the Waves (1996) and Nymphomaniac (2013).
Skarsgård has also had roles in major film franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean as Bootstrap Bill Turner, Mamma Mia! as Bill Anderson and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Dr. Erik Selvig. In 2020, he won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor in a series, limited series or television film for his role in the HBO miniseries Chernobyl.
Skarsgård was married to Swedish physician My Skarsgård from 1975 until 2007; they share five sons and one daughter: Alexander, Gustaf, Sam, Bill, Eija and Valter. He married Irish producer Megan Everett in 2009 and welcomed sons Ossian and Kolbjörn.
Minnie Driver as Skylar Satenstein
Minnie Driver plays Skylar Satenstein, a British student at Harvard and Will’s love interest.
Driver was born in London and raised in Barbados until she was 6. Prior to Good Will Hunting, for which she received nominations for an Academy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, her breakout role was in Circle of Friends (1995).
After filming, Damon and Driver dated until 1998. The exes didn’t see each other again until 2020, Driver recounted during an appearance on the Keep It! podcast the following year.
"I did see Matt Damon on the beach and I had not had a conversation with him, seriously, since we made the film," Driver said, referencing Good Will Hunting. "That was last summer and it was actually very nice to see him, and his kids, and his wife and it all felt quite middle-aged actually, which was reassuring."
The actress continued, "I feel like so much of the folly of youth went on with our initial relationship, like it was amazing and tabloidy. So that was nice to just have sort of a middle-aged conversation about the weather and stuff."
She went on to voice Jane Porter in Disney’s Tarzan (1999) and later appeared in films such as Ella Enchanted (2004) and The Phantom of the Opera (2004).
On TV, Driver had a recurring role on Will & Grace; starred in the sitcoms About a Boy and Speechless; and appeared on shows like Modern Family and The Witcher: Blood Origin. Her lead role in The Riches earned her Golden Globe Award and Primetime Emmy Award nominations.
Casey Affleck as Morgan O’Mally
Casey Affleck, Ben Affleck’s younger brother, played Morgan O’Mally, a friend of Will’s.
The Massachusetts-born actor appeared in local commercials and films as a child, but his first major role came at age 20 in To Die For (1995). Casey later became known for his roles in Lonesome Jim (2006), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and Oppenheimer (2023).
He received critical acclaim for his starring role in Manchester by the Sea (2016), which earned him the Golden Globe for best actor in a motion picture — drama and an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Cole Hauser as Billy McBride
Cole Hauser plays Billy McBride, a friend of Will’s.
His film debut was in School Ties (1992), which also starred Damon and Affleck. He went on to appear in Dazed and Confused (1993), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), The Break-Up (2006) and more. Since 2018, Hauser has starred as Rip Wheeler in the acclaimed drama Yellowstone.
As for his personal life, the California native has been married to actress and photographer Cynthia Daniel since 2006. They share three kids together: sons Ryland and Colt Daniel, and daughter Steely Rose.
Scott William Winters as Clark
Scott William Winters plays Clark, a Harvard student who Will intellectually bests.
Winters grew up on Long Island, New York, and in Arizona. Good Will Hunting was his first major project; he reprised his role alongside Damon and Affleck in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001).
He first appeared in HBO’s Oz as a guest star in 1998 and became a supporting cast member in season 3 through the end of the series in 2003. He starred in the short-lived series 10-8: Officers on Duty and has appeared in multiple police and procedural dramas, including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Dexter, NCIS and more.
Winters and his wife, Jennifer Logan, share two daughters: Faith and Grace. His brothers are actor Dean Winters and writer-producer Bradford Winters.
John Mighton as Tom
Real-life mathematician John Mighton plays Tom, Professor Lambeau’s assistant.
Mighton began tutoring children in math to support himself financially as a playwright. Tutoring helped him discover a new interest in math, a subject he struggled with as an undergraduate; he went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate in math, he told the University of Toronto.
Though Mighton’s only film role is Good Will Hunting, his plays have been performed around the world and won several awards, including the Canadian Governor General's Award for Drama, the Dora Award, the Chalmers Award and the Siminovitch Prize.
He is the founder of JUMP — Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies — Math, a program that aims to help students succeed in math in Canada and the U.S., according to its website.
George Plimpton as Henry Lipkin
George Plimpton plays Henry Lipkin, Will’s court-ordered psychologist.
Plimpton was born in 1927 and grew up in New York City. He was best known for his work as a writer and for establishing The Paris Review in 1953. He served as its editor-in-chief from its founding until his death.
In addition to his cameo in Good Will Hunting, Plimpton made appearances in films like Volunteers (1985) with Tom Hanks and in TV series like ER, The Simpsons and more. He also hosted Mouseterpiece Theater on the Disney Channel from 1983 to 1990.
On Sept. 25, 2003, Plimpton died of a heart attack at the age of 76 in his N.Y.C. apartment. He was survived by his wife, Sarah Whitehead Dudley, whom he married in 1992; their twin daughters, Laura Dudley Plimpton and Olivia Hartley Plimpton; and his daughter Medora Ames and son Taylor Ames, whom he shared with his first wife, Freddy Medora Espy.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.