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An MIT Grad Claims That Matt Damon And Ben Affleck Stole The Good Will Hunting Script From Him And Now He Wants To Take Credit For The Entire Movie

Actor Matt Damon (R) and co-writer Ben Affleck (L)

Source –  Who wrote “Good Will Hunting”? Bernard Cohen says the idea was his.

Cohen, MIT class of ’62, is a lifelong Upper West Sider who is an artist and writer, as well as a waiter, bartender, chauffeur and movie extra.

“I was double-crossed,” Cohen said. “You can’t do it the way I did it, obviously. I figured I was such a ball of fire it didn’t matter what I gave away.” A spokesman for Damon said, “Matt is unavailable. He is currently out of the country on an extended holiday with his family.”

Listen, I love Good Will Hunting. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. Fantastic acting, great story, logs, ethos and pathos like you read about. Not to mention it has all the elements of a good Boston movie according to Seth Myers’ “Boston Accent.”

That’s why it won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The story we’ve been told of how Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, two childhood friends, wrote and developed the script is part of what makes it so endearing. There’s always been chatter around whether or not the two of them were the true authors, but it wasn’t until recently that people started talking about it again. Bernard Cohen, MIT class of ’62, came forward claiming that the script was stolen from him at an Upper West Side Bakery during the mid-nineties. And I’ve got to tell you, the story sounds pretty convincing.

He says he was hanging out at Columbus Bakery (83rd Street and Columbus Avenue) in the mid-’90s when he met aspiring producer Chris Moore and told him about his idea for a movie about a janitor who is also a math genius. Cohen said he got the idea from a gifted frat brother who came to MIT at the age of 16.

“I thought [Moore] was someone else and started talking to him,” Cohen, who has kept his secret for 20 years, told me. “I asked him, ‘Do you know someone younger who could help me finish it?’”

Moore was a Harvard classmate of Matt Damon’s, who showed up at the bakery a few days later and met with Cohen.

“I didn’t have anything in writing. It was all verbal. I didn’t even ask for a part,” said Cohen. “But I said, ‘When it wins Best Original Screenplay, I want a thank you, and I want you to finance my next film.’”

As soon as childhood friends Damon and Ben Affleck won the Oscar for the screenplay in 1998, skeptics scoffed that the two neophytes could possibly have written such a polished work.

The fact that Damon and Affleck didn’t write much else in the following 20-plus years — concentrating on acting — has helped sow doubt. Cohen said he contacted Moore after the Oscars. “Moore acted like he didn’t know anything and told me not to call him again.”

Like I one thousand percent believe that Chris Moore, along with Matt and Ben stole the idea from this dude and used it for their own good. I also don’t care that they did. Why? Because A) good ideas get stolen all the time in the creative field and B) you need to be smart enough to protect them. Now, did he think that a casual conversation would turn into what it did? Of course not, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he essentially handed a stranger a script (that he knew was good) and trusted him to do the right thing. Just goes to show that you can have all the book smarts in the world, but if you don’t have street smarts, life’s going to be tough.

I doubt that Cohen, Damon, or Affleck will say anything regarding this dude’s story. Damon’s spokesperson already said he was “on vacation” when asked for a comment. Why would they risk tarnishing their reputation just to credit some old man who a good PR person may or may not be able to paint as senile in the press? They wouldn’t.

It’s a cutthroat industry, Bernard. The ship has sailed, if you wanted credit you should’ve opened your big mouth twenty-years ago. Best case scenario you get an altered version of the story by one of their teams. Worst case scenario you get nothing. It’s a shitty situation but that’s the way things are. How you like them apples?

PS: Bernard, if you’re reading this I totally believe you.