A brilliant psychology professor stuck working at a community college. Sean was devastated after the death of his wife.
A psychologist who studied at MIT and now teaches at a Boston community college is approached by an old friend and current professor at MIT. His friend catches up with him to reveal a young man, Will Hunting, who is in need of a good therapist and Sean is next on the list of hopeful therapists who can get inside the boy's psyche.
Sean's life has been stuck, much like Will's has, after the death of his wife to cancer nearly 2 years before he ever meets Will. Her death shook Sean to his core and has turned his life into a hollow exsistance but the life he did spend with her shelters Sean from his own psychological storm as much as it causes it.
Played by Robin Williams with a balance of comedy and seriousness, the character of Sean Maguire won Williams the Oscar for his portrayal.
While teaching one of his psychology classes about trust within a relationship one day Sean is interrupted towards the end of his class by an old friend from school, Prof. Gerald Lambeau. Gerald takes Sean out to lunch to catch up and to ask him a favor. Will Hunting is a genius borderline on savant, a boy so intelligent he dwarfs even the men around him at MIT and he isn't even a student, he's a janitor on parole. After noticing Will solving math problems intended for a high level math class Gerald gained heavy interest in Will who is a bit of a troubled boy. In hopes of avoiding Will from going to jail he gets him to begin seeing therapists, none of which Will take seriously and none of which avoid Will's ire.
Sean is next on the list of hopeful therapists. Will and Sean meet and their first meeting is filled with general questions and Will greeting Sean with contempt and attacks on his wife, his dead wife. Despite the personal attack from a young man Sean agrees to see him once a week. Sean spends most of the first night after meeting willing treating himself to a whiskey bottle contemplating his wife's death and his current place in the world. But just as his night seems consumed but this young man Sean comes to the realization.
The following week during their second session Sean takes Will on a walk and reveals to him why Will's attacks didn't push him away. Will may be an exceptionally smart man but all his assumptions and all of his life comes from the pages of the books he has read, not from actual experiences. Will can recite Shakespeare and Elliot and numerous biographies but he has never experienced the feelings and experiences himself. Sean however has.
Sean and Will continue to meet and Sean's mental opinions of Will turn into a diagnosis as Will's life gets richer but also seems to fall back apart. Will falls in love but pushes her away when things get serious, his friends are fiercely loyal and protective but understand Will's gift and hope something better comes along. But just as job offers come along to help Will utilize his gift he pushes it all away. Sean finally has a huge breakthrough with Will getting the boy to understand that nothing from his childhood was his fault and that he can have someone who loves him back and they won't abandon him.
After their breakthrough Will and Sean only have a few more meetings. Will seems healthier and happier with more focus and drive. He thanks Sean, who thanks him back, and the two part with Will gearing up for one of the jobs set up for him and Sean preparing to travel on his own for the first time without his wife and to experience more of life. Will decides to follow some advice Sean once gave him in their first session and decides against his job offer and instead drives out to California to see about a girl.