This whole article is going to bring me back to an earlier time and a crazy idea I had. Could I be the real life inspiration behind Matt Damon’s Oscar winning movie Good Will Hunting?
Back when the movie Good Will Hunting came out in 1997, I was like, “Cool! Another guy named Will who is amazing at math and worked nights as a janitor. He’s like me in that he is brilliant at pretty much everything and he needs a psychologist.” When I thought of it more. I felt it was a little weird. The character was a lot like me, with the same exact name, but he was super me. But, yeah. I thought back in 1997, “That’s probably coincidence. Great story though.”
I learned years later that Matt Damon went to Harvard but never graduated. That actually made me think about the movie again and my own life. The professor in English literature department who liked me the best and actually invited me into a class with masters and doctoral students when I was 19 was named Gerald Nelson. He knew me and my story well. He got his PhD from Harvard back in his day, and he knew I was a very gifted applied mathematician that worked as a janitor in his building, the Humanities building on Stonybrook campus, and I imagine, being a Harvard Man, he never lost his Harvard ties, where Matt Damon was going to school at the time.
The only reason I’m bringing this whole story up now is because I was randomly talking to a friend of mine and he said, “You’re Good Will Hunting, man!” I surprised him by saying, yeah I think you’re right. And I gave him a few reasons, such as SUNY Stony Brook University is in the same league as MIT in applied math, because we are number seven in the nation According to the Chronicle of Higher Education: http://www.ams.sunysb.edu. John Nash, the Nobel laureate immortalized in the movie A Beautiful Mind, thought enough of Stony Brook to lecture there multiple times including when I was going there as a student. I knew Dr. Gerald Nelson from 1990 to 1992. I graduated from SUNY Stonybrook with honors in 1994. The movie came out in 1997. Hm.
The only thing that Good Will Hunting did not cover about me was my amazing athleticism, which Dr. Gerald Nelson didn’t know anything about. Back in the day, I could do feats of strength which were world class, such as doing over one thousand push-ups in two hours, where I did 4 sets of 100 pushups and the rest were sets of 50. Also, I was able to run a half-mile in under two minutes. I was able to do 50 dips pretty easily. I also was able to do 48 chinups back when I was in Stuyvesant High School, among other feats.
Also, I was a Janitor at night in the academic buildings of SUNY Stonybrook. And, I was one of the most gifted undergraduate applied mathematicians at Stonybrook, I was straight A up to AMS 310. The course description is below form SUNYSB’s website, for the curious. It is an upper division, extremely competitive class with many graduate students in pure math, applied math, economics, and computer science. Of course, I got the highest grade they were allowed to give: a 4.0 or an A.
The only other difference between Matt Damon’s character and I is the locale, South Boston and Cambridge versus Stonybrook Long Island, and the level of genius of Matt Damon compared to my own. I would say that the level of genius depicted in the movie is not my level of genius, but rather the level of genius of my younger brother Dr. Leaf Jiang, who just happens to be the best electrical engineer to come out of MIT in the last 15 years. Go to Google Scholar and check him out if you don’t believe me. If you are rich and powerful, I would hire him. He’d be cheap at 7 figures. No joke. He could make your millions into billions, and billions into more. But, don’t mess with him. He’s 6’4” and can bench over 300lbs. That being said, he is the most grounded family man I’ve ever met, and I would do anything for him because he’s the best. I’m proud to call this man my brother.
All that being said, I think my memoir A Schizophrenic Will: A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope , is a better story than Good Will Hunting. Why? It’s a true story with bucketloads of romance, genius, madness, and redemption. But don’t take my word for it. Check out what Amazon Top Reviewer Mr. Grady Harp says about my autobiography, and thanks for stopping by. Tchau!
Good Will Hunting (1997)
126 min – Drama – 9 January 1998 (USA)
8.2 Your rating: -/10 Ratings: 8.2/10 from 455,899 users Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 627 user | 149 critic | 28 from Metacritic.com
Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writers: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
Stars: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
AMS 310: Survey of Probability and Statistics
A survey of data analysis, probability theory, and statistics. Stem and leaf displays, box plots, schematic plots, fitting straight line relationships, discrete and continuous probability distributions, conditional distributions, binomial distribution, normal and t distributions, confidence intervals, and significance tests. May not be taken for credit in addition to ECO 320. This course has been designated as a High Demand/Controlled Access (HD/CA) course. Students registering for HD/CA courses for the first time will have priority to do so.
Prerequisite: Applied Linear Algebra or its equivalent
William Jiang, MLS is the Author of 63 books, including the bestselling books Guide to Natural Mental Health , 3rd ed and his critically-acclaimed autobiography A Schizophrenic Will: A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope. You can see a selection of his books about mental and physical health nicely laid out on his blog at http://www.mentalhealthbooks.net or check out his Facebook at Mental Health Books.NET