Ben Affleck is still enduring plenty of criticism about his casting as Batman in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Batman vs. Superman, but the actor turned director reveals that he’s learned to deal with the arrows fired by the general public much more effectively as he’s aged. Affleck recently sat down for a Playboy interview where he talks about his life, his successes and his failings. It’s an insightful piece from a guy who has ridden the Hollywood roller-coaster for years and isn’t afraid to be critical of his own work.
Affleck talks a bit about the reaction to his Batman casting, reiterating that even he didn’t think he was the right guy for the part when Warner Bros. approached him last year – but also pointing out that once he read the script and saw where Snyder was taking the character (which is, according to Affleck, a very different direction than the one traveled in the Nolan films), that he actually is a better fit than most people realize.
Still, the most interesting parts of the interview appear in an extended exchange where author Mike Fleming rattles off some of Affleck’s biggest hits and failures for a lightning-round exchange that offers an almost Rorschach Test-esque glimpse into the actor’s psyche. Even if you’re not an Affleck fan, you have to admit the guy’s more than willing to acknowledge when he screws up.
We’ve gathered some of the highlights, which you can check out below.
On his work in Michael Bay’s lightly regarded historical epic Pearl Harbor:
“Pearl Harbor was a wonderful experience. I got to know my wife, and there were a lot of people I liked. It was a disappointment because I thought we were making an iconic movie that could have been made before the war, a Titanic kind of movie. It ultimately ended up being like Armageddon in World War II. You can make Armageddon about oil drillers on an asteroid. You can't make Armageddon about the Doolittle Raid because that's history and people take that seriously. You talked about being picky over historical accuracy. Michael Bay, the director, wanted a more commercial tone, and it was commercial, a big hit. People say Pearl Harbor was a bomb. It was absolutely not. It did half a billion dollars, but it became a light piece of entertainment.”
On Gone Baby Gone:
"I was terrified. Everybody said, 'This is going to suck. Ben Affleck is directing. This movie's going to be s**t.' I was very discouraged by it and didn't have a lot of support from anybody really, except my wife. And Matt [Damon]."
On how Michael Mann’s Heat influenced The Town:
“I got confidence from Gone Baby Gone that I could get through a movie, shoot it and have it make sense. The Town was a step up in trying to execute on the genre components. The movie borrowed a lot from Michael Mann's Heat. Look how well they did it in that movie—you can't do it any better. I took that realism and tried to apply it to our action stuff. There were a lot of techniques we used. Some worked, and others we didn't put in the movie. Ultimately it was about making a slightly bigger, slightly more Hollywood movie and wrapping it around a drama that had themes that were meaningful to me. I thought, If I do this right, I will be considered for more stuff. And then Jeff Robinov at Warner Bros. handed me Argo. I read it and immediately knew I had to make it, that it was perfect.”
And no interview would be complete without mentioning what is arguably Affleck's worst film, Gigli.
“Gigli's where I learned to direct. Martin Brest, the guy who did Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run and Scent of a Woman, is a great director who understands how to help an actor. The love he had for what he was doing, the care he took with the performances and the way he made it about the story and the actors rather than imposing some sort of artifice or style on top of it—all that rubbed off on me when I shot The Town.”
You can check out even more of Affleck’s thoughts on his life and career by checking out the full interview over at Playboy.
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