The Boston accents are what sold Ben Affleck on Good Will Hunting. Yes, really. The now-49-year-old actor and director once said he only did the 1997 film — one he and longtime friend Matt Damon wrote and starred in — for the accents.
Ben Affleck played Matt Damon’s onscreen best friend in ‘Good Will Hunting’
Affleck played Damon’s best friend, Chuckie, in Good Will Hunting. He didn’t have to pretend to be Damon’s onscreen best friend because they’d already known each other for years when filming began. The two actors grew up down the street from each other in Massachusetts.
So who was Affleck’s character, Chuckie, besides Will’s closest friend? He was a sidekick of sorts. Chuckie had a car which Will and their other friends played by Cole Hauser and Affleck’s younger brother Casey would pile in and drive around Boston. They do everything together from bar fights and basketball to working construction.
In a 2020 SiriusXM interview, Affleck reflected on Good Will Hunting sharing why he’d been drawn to the role of Chuckie. He described it as a “juicy” role that had been different from the brooding roles he kept getting auditions for at the time.
“I was like, ‘Well, I want to do the guy who’s the sort of Mercutio, the funnier character. Who sort of tells stories. I wasn’t the first guy to come up with this sort of funny, but likable, best friend guy, who the audience gives permission to be a little bit more outrageous than the protagonist, in some ways,” he said.
Ben Affleck said he did ‘Good Will Hunting’ for the Boston accents in a 1999 interview
Affleck discussed Good Will Hunting in an October 1999 cover interview with Vanity Fair. He and Damon had worked what began as 40 pages for a writing class at Harvard — Damon was a student there in 1992 before he later dropped out — into a script. It went on to become a 1,500-page script the pair eventually sold to Cast Rock Productions.
Set and filmed in Boston, Massachusetts, the pair did Boston accents in Good Will Hunting, which, according to Affleck, was a major selling point.
“It was the whole reason I did the movie—just to do the accent,” he said “not entirely facetiously” as noted by the publication.
Whether or not he was only half-joking, it was clear Affleck liked doing a Boston accent. Also noted in the cover interview was how often he’d put on the accent to talk about towns in Massachusetts or Boston winters (“Stock up on wahta, it’s the Noreasta!“).
At the time he was 27, living in a new house in the Hollywood Hills, and getting offered up to $12 million for movie roles. He’d starred in Michael Bay’s Armaggedon and Shakespeare in Love a year earlier.
Ben Affleck won an Oscar for ‘Good Will Hunting
Affleck may be forever grateful to the Boston accents in Good Will Hunting. Had the draw of doing a Boston accent not been there he may have passed on the project. Then he may not have won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay at the age of 24 alongside Damon.