This past fall found the streets of Cambridge lined by camera rigging and film crews as it once again became the setting for several upcoming feature films.
Scenes from the movie The Social Network, the story of the creation of Facebook in a college dorm room, were filmed in various locations throughout Cambridge—although apparently the Harvard University campus won’t have a starring role in this film, as Johns Hopkins has been cast instead. And alas, Justin Timberlake did not grace the streets of our fair city: locals were disappointed to learn that his face would be inserted post-production via CGI in scenes recently filmed on the Charles River.
In other movie news, Ben Affleck recently returned to his native turf to star and direct in The Town, a thriller based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan and adapted for the screen by Affleck himself (perhaps an argument against those who seek to discount his contributions to the Good Will Hunting screenplay?)
Walking to work through the production crews, camera equipment and massive coils of cables during a recent filming brought to my mind a favorite scene in Good Will Hunting and a fixture that will be familiar to anyone who regularly passes through Harvard Square.
Spare Change News is a local alternative newspaper here in Cambridge that is produced and sold by homeless and formerly homeless volunteers. Locals will be familiar with the vendors who take up posts on the city streets to sell the paper to passersby.
One such post is located directly in front of the large Au Bon Pain situated in the middle of the Square. This just happens to be the location of a key scene from the movie in which we learn that, although he can’t paint, play music, or hit a homerun out of Fenway, when it came to math, Will could always “just play.”
Sure enough, in the background of this scene, you can see Spare Change News Guy.
(True Cantabrigians may also notice the incongruity between the coffee cups from Peet’s coffee, and the location, Au Bon Pain.)
It’s a great tribute to the city of Cambridge that so much of it is still recognizable and intact. It’s one of the things I love most about this movie.
I was reminded of this lately as I passed crews from The Town filming in almost the same location. Spare Change News Guy was nearby, as always. I couldn’t help but wonder whether he will be making what promises to be (as far as I know, anyway) his second major film role. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Update: I was mortified to learn that there was a mistake in my inaugural Blog Will Hunting post!
Peet’s Coffee was served at Au Bon Pain locations between 1995-1998, so there were actually no incongruities in that scene. Obviously, I’m not a true Cantabrigian (full disclosure: I’m actually from Rhode Island.)
I stand corrected.
Katherine once gave a high school film studies class presentation on GWH and showed a scene from the movie on a VHS cassette tape from the library. However, instead of the scene in the NSA office, she inadvertently showed the end of the masturbation scene.
This is Katherine’s inaugural Blog Will Hunting contribution.