Getting Out of (the) Town

“Will, why’d you come all the way out here?” Skylar exclaimed.

“I wanted to see you. I wanted fate to take control. I let my heart lead me. You were right. I don’t hate you Skylar, I love you. Would you forgive me? Would you please forgive me? Without you, I don’t feel complete.” Will explained.

“Will, of course I forgive you.” Skylar kissed him again smiling.

“Can I come in?” Will asked. Skylar nodded.

“Come on in!” Skylar pulled away from him and grabbed his hand pulling him into the room. Will turned to close the door, only to find Chuckie Sullivan standing in the door way.

And where did this bit of script come from, you ask? A lost epilogue to the Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting screenplay? A deleted scene? Thankfully, no. The answer is simple: Good Will Hunting fan fiction. It’s out there, believe it or not.

But amateur screenwriters on the internet aren’t the only ones imagining a cinematic reacquaintance with Good Will Hunting‘s Chuckie Sullivan. I’ve been hearing and reading many a comparison between Affleck’s The Town character and his more youthful and naive Good Will Hunting character.

Does The Town‘s Doug MacRay represent Chuckie’s character all grown up?

Well, no. No more so than The Departed is about the corruption of Will Hunting by organized crime or The Bourne Identity is the story of Will working for the NSA after all.

But there are some interesting comparisons.

Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting and The Town
The moment where the Ben Affleck character who does construction argues with his best boyhood friend the necessity of leaving town and going to a warmer state with lots of coastline. (Image comparison via robinjp.tumblr.com)

Global Comment‘s Mark Farnsworth writes:

MacRay could be Affleck’s Chuckie left behind by Will in Good Will Hunting, and in places The Town plays like an unofficial sequel about Chuckie’s life story. In that movie Chuckie berates Will for not taking his chance, “Fuck you, you don’t owe it to yourself man, you owe it to me. Cuz tomorrow I’m gonna wake up and I’ll be 50, and I’ll be doin’ this shit. And that’s all right. That’s fine. But you’re sittin’ on a winnin’ lottery ticket. And you’re too much of a pussy to cash it in, and that’s bullshit. Cause I’d do fuckin’ anything to have what you got. So would any of these fuckin’ guys. It’d be an insult to us if you’re still here in 20 years. Hangin’ around here is a waste of your time.”

So yes, the similarity between the scenes in which Affleck’s character argues for Will Hunting to leave Boston behind and in which he argues that he himself must leave Boston in The Town have obvious similarities. Affleck himself has said as much in an interview with AFP, recalling the Good Will Hunting “lottery ticket” speech, “I found myself back in the same scene.”

The AFP article continues:

In The Town, Affleck as the leader of a posse of bank robbers has a scene with Jeremy Renner, who plays his surrogate brother, which Affleck said was “heartbreaking in a different way and probably a more common way.”

It was “one guy saying, ‘I have to leave, I have to change, I have to do something different,’ and the other saying, ‘Stay with me, don’t leave me, don’t do that to me,’ and how hard it makes it to make that choice when you have your best friend, your brother … sitting there (saying): ‘I need you, don’t leave me.'”

Both scenes “spoke to that dynamic,” Affleck commented. “And in a larger sense they spoke to the importance of male friendships.”

Farnsworth’s Globe Comment analysis doesn’t end on a simple comparison between the two scenes, though. He goes on to describe the getting-out-of-town conceit as representative of not only Damon and Affleck’s respective characters, but their careers as well:

Chuckie’s words resonate loudly when applied to MacRay but they scream from the top of the Bunker Hill Monument in Affleck’s case. Whereas his boyhood pal Matt Damon has seen his career progress smoothly into iconic status with the Bourne films, Affleck has had to rebuild his after the whole “Bennifer” fiasco.

So is The Town Ben’s ticket out of the mediocre-film-career doldrums? (His “winnin’ lottery ticket”?)

And what other similarities between the films have you noticed? (Spoilers welcome.)

There’s a new gritty town, er, in town

Move over Southie and Dorchester… there’s a new candidate for “one of the toughest neighborhoods in all of Boston… no place for the weak or innocent.

A one square mile neighborhood called… Charlestown!!

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I incidentally did a quick Google search of Charlestown and “bank robberies” and came up with this article about a series of robberies in Charleston, Summerville, and Dorchester. Apparently there’s a parallel universe of Boston neighborhoods in South Carolina, slightly misspelled. I wonder if they each have a Boylston Street?

Read all about the filming of The Town in Harvard Square, right here in a Blog Will Hunting post from last winter.

Around The Town

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?)

Ben Affleck and John Hamm on the set of The Town in Harvard Square.
Ben Affleck and John Hamm on the set of The Town in Harvard Square.

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.