EXCLUSIVE: When Matt Damon was unable to commit the time to prep and direct the untitled film that he co-wrote and will star in with John Krasinski, Damon took the script to the director who helmed the last screenplay the actor co-wrote. Last night, Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant committed to helm the film, which is on track to start production early April. The project, which got a first draft from Dave Eggers when its title was Gold Mist, is a Capraesque tale in which Damon and Krasinski play rival corporate executives. Damon plays a sales executive who arrives in a small town only to have his whole life called into question. The film will be produced by Damon’s former Live Planet partner Chris Moore, Damon and Krasinski.
Now that Van Sant is in, details on the film will fall into place quickly. When Damon was going to direct, the film had been set up at Warner Bros through the production shingle that Damon has there with Ben Affleck. It’s unclear if Warner Bros will make the movie, and the process of setting the $15 million budget and distribution will begin in earnest next week. Plans to shoot in upstate New York could also change and the location could be closer to Van Sant’s Portland base. The project is now set up to be produced under Krasinski’s Sunday Night banner.
Damon, Krasinski and Moore decided that it would be difficult for Damon to set aside the time needed for this to be his feature directing debut, and Van Sant was the only director they brought the script to. It is an easy match because of Good Will Hunting, which was produced by Moore and which won Damon and Affleck an Oscar for Best Screenplay. The catalyst for the project was Krasinski, who is making the transition to features as he wraps the final season of the NBC sitcom The Office. Krasinski had an idea for a film that had resonance in the current climate of economic hardship caused by corporate greed. Krasinski paid Eggers to write the first draft, then showed it to Damon and Moore while the latter were making The Adjustment Bureau, which starred Damon and Krasinski’s wife, Emily Blunt. Eggers was unavailable to do more work on the script, so Damon and Kraskinski rewrote it together.