MR. SMITH GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
The sort of underdog triumph scored by Matt Damon
's mop-pushing genius in Good Will Hunting doesn't only happen in the movies. Elliott Smith was a Portland, Ore., singer-songwriter with three independently produced albums and a small cult following until Hunting's Portland-based director, Gus Van Sant, a longtime fan, invited him to contribute to the film's soundtrack. Smith gave him five old songs and a new tune, and now the latter, "Miss Misery," is an Oscar nominee for Best Original Song. Smith, 28, has a fourth album due this summer from DreamWorks.
How did you hook up with Gus Van Sant?
He used to come see me play in Portland, and we had mutual friends.
How did you write "Miss Misery"?
I made it up the same way I make up all the others. I don't really know what I'm talking about until it's over. It's sort of a stream of consciousness thing about beauty.
Did you expect the song to be so successful?
I had no idea that the movie was going to explode, and even that didn't mean that the song is going to be nominated. It's a total kick, and it's totally bizarre at the same time.
Will you wear your trademark wool cap to the Oscars?
I plan to wear a white suit with a big pink carnation. I want to try and look as perfectly pristine as possible.