The question of who wrote Good Will Hunting seems to have an obvious answer: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. However, an alum from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claims that he’s the person who actually came up with the story.
According to a new report by Page Six, MIT grad Bernard Cohen claims that he is the true mastermind behind the hit film and that he was “double-crossed” by producer Chris Moore, a former classmate of Damon’s at Harvard. Cohen told Page Six that he met with Moore at Columbus Bakery in New York back in the mid-’90s and told the producer about his idea for a project about a janitor who happens to be a math genius.
“I thought [Moore] was someone else and started talking to him,” Cohen told the publication. “I asked him, ‘Do you know someone younger who could help me finish it?'”
Cohen alleges that Moore brought Damon to meet with them about the story a few days later. Although the MIT class of 1962 member claims that he only asked for “a thank you” and financing for a film when Good Will Hunting “wins Best Original Screenplay,” Cohen admits that he “didn’t have anything in writing.”
Who wrote Good Will Hunting?
“It was all verbal,” Cohen told Page Six.
Cohen claims that Moore “acted like he didn’t know anything and told me not to call him again” when he contacted the producer following the film’s breakout run at the Oscars in 1998.
While neither Damon nor Affleck have responded to Cohen’s claims, the duo has spoken at length about their work on Good Will Hunting over the years. Damon told Boston Magazine in a 2013 oral history piece that he wrote the beginning of the film for a playwriting class at Harvard.
“I was in my fifth year at Harvard, and I had a few electives left. There was this playwriting class and the culmination of it was to write a one-act play, and I just started writing a movie,” Damon said. “So I handed the professor at the end of the semester a 40-some-odd-page document, and said, ‘Look, I might have failed your class, but it is the first act of something longer.'”
After receiving feedback from his professor and working on the script with Affleck, the duo brought the film to Moore.
“They wrote a great script, and I read it and was like, ‘This is one of the best scripts I have ever read, and I would love to produce it,'” Moore told Boston Magazine. “The three of us agreed we would try to get it made.”