Ben Affleck Hollywoodland Interview

Ben Affleck Hollywoodland Interview
Actor Ben Affleck knows a thing or two about the downside of fame. After all the man formerly known asBennifer knew his career was in trouble when his personal life made headlines rather than his professional achievements. So when the opportunity came along to play George Reeves he jumped at the chance. Reeves was one of the first actors to play Superman on TV in the late 1950s and became so identified with the man of steel, that he was unable to get an acting job without the cape. Televisionwas a new medium at the time and Reeves became one of its first celebrities. He also became one of its first casualties when his affair with a married woman became public knowledge. Much like today, thetabloids only wanted personal dirt on him and he became an industry joke. When he was found dead at 45, many thought it was suicide until investigators discovered two additional bullet holes. Gaynor Flynncaught up with Ben Affleck at the Venice International Film Festival where he chatted about the cult ofcelebrity, surviving Bennifer, directing his first film and having a baby.

Gaynor Flynn: How did you get involved in the project?

Ben Affleck: I read the script, it had been out there fora long time. There were various people attached to it.Then I heard it was finally getting made and I leaptat the chance.

Gaynor Flynn: Could you relate to George Reeves, after all you diddo Daredevil?

Ben Affleck: Yeah, I definitely had a lot to draw from -in the sense that I knew how ridiculous you feel in ared suit (laughs). You feel - even if these movieswork - very, very silly. Its hard to ground whatyoure doing in any sense of reality. You cant sitthere and say "Oh, I know how that feels", when youare preparing for a scene in which you do somethingsupernatural, wearing a rubber suit. When you arebreaking tables, they are crappy fake tables - so thewhole thing feels pathetic.

Gaynor Flynn: Do you think George Reeves was a good actor who nevergot a chance to realize his potential?

Ben Affleck: When you watch him in From Here to Eternity,I think he is as good as the other actors in it. Hehad this Montgomery Cliff naturalistic acting stylethat started to evolve during that time. I think hewould have done better. The mistake he made - andwhich this movie is about - is that his ambition madehim impatient. He would have gotten other roles,because he was a good enough actor. But he wanted tolive and look like a movie star. His ego demandedmore. He worried too much about the money and didntwait long enough.

Gaynor Flynn: Like Reeves youve also experienced the downside offame, which is when your private life becomes moreimportant than your work.

Ben Affleck: Yeah thats kind of the modern form oftypecasting, you dont get typecast as a certaincharacter you get typecast as yourself and with Georgethey couldnt see past the Superman character. Nowadays the danger is that people dont see past whatthey read in the tabloids and that can be as damagingif not more so than the other type of typecasting. Icertainly can tell you from experience its bad. Itsbad psychologically, bad for your career.

Gaynor Flynn: How did you cope with that?

Ben Affleck: I just wanted to take a break, go away for awhile and try to figure out what I wanted to do andtry to make things calm down because I felt sosuffocated and miserable and gross being in the middleof that kind of tabloid media. The tabloid media hasgotten so intense in the last five years so this movieis part of an effort Im making to try to like get thekind of control over my life and make it a littlesmaller and reign it in and contain it and do things Iactually feel good about.

Gaynor Flynn: What did you do specifically?

Ben Affleck: I directed a movie for one thing which wasreally nice and I got married and had a kid those arethe things that really solidified my life but you knowcreatively I just took some time. I didnt want to doany interviews and I didnt want to have my photographtaken and just get out of the celebrity hamster cageso that I could withdraw a little bit. And directing amovie was really wonderful it was an intense amount ofwork but I could do it privately and that was reallynice.

Gaynor Flynn: Which element of George Reeves touched you most?

Ben Affleck: There was a lot but one of the things that Ifound heartbreaking was how much people liked him. Hewent out of his way to make people comfortable, he wasreally generous he was gregarious and sweet at a timewhen sweetness wasnt necessarily the model ofmasculinity and he was gentle and kind and sincere buthe was miserable, and broken hearted and terriblyunhappy and to me there is something really sad aboutthat. He spent his life putting on a face and makingeverybody else happy until he just couldnt anymore.

Gaynor Flynn: I understand you did a lot of research for the role,including watching 24 episodes of Superman.

Ben Affleck: The thing is he was a real person and he wasa guy I frankly identified with. I felt he was a guywho the media insisted on presenting as somebody elseand he didnt feel he was that person and I canunderstand that and he felt stymied in a lot of ways. He didnt feel sorry for himself but he had a lot ofpain in his life and I dont think he ever got a fairshot and I wanted this movie to give him a fair shotand I wanted it to be respectful. I didnt want it togloss over anything but I wanted it to honest and Ifelt a personal connection to the guy although hesbeen long dead 50 years.

Gaynor Flynn: You also put on quite a bit of weight for the role aswell right? Was that difficult?

Ben Affleck: (laughs) Well putting it on is not that hardlets be honest. The best time I had was putting theweight on. Taking it off is really hard, harder thanI thought.

Gaynor Flynn: Do you think there are certain types of characters orpeople who are just too sweet for Hollywood?

Ben Affleck: I like that idea with George he probably wastoo sweet in some ways. The movie is about in someways ambition and he had an ambition that was thwartedand this is a town which is the capitol of ambition,but really what its about to me is the tendency thatwe have as people to be dissatisfied. Ill be happyif I get this commercial. Ill be happy if I havethis relationship with this woman then thatll make mehappy, or if I was rich if I had a $1 million Id behappy. Id be happy if I was famous then Id behappy. And of course none of its true but weperpetually tell ourselves it is. George is just areally good high profile example of that universalhuman tendency.

Gaynor Flynn: Sounds like youve changed your priorities?

Ben Affleck: Yeah Ive definitely changed mypriorities. Work has kind of taken a back seat toeverything else. Ironically even though I feel likeIm more equipped to do my job better and Im moreinterested in doing a better job its not as importantto me, I mean its very important to me but its not themost important thing and thats nice. Its a clich├ębut having a family has made me reorganise mypriorities rather thoroughly.

Gaynor Flynn: What does directing give to you that acting doesnt?

Ben Affleck: Some people think its control but itsnot really control because you dont control anythingbut its a more overall sense of authorship. In otherwords when youre an actor you go well I can do thisbut in your mind your thinking well it would actuallybe better if this would happen or that would happenbut you dont get to do that you just get to do yourone thing and as a director you get to author theentire movie.

Gaynor Flynn: Was it intimidating to work with Ed Harris?

Ben Affleck: (laughs) Yeah, I was intimidated. EdHarris and Morgan Freeman are two guys I have kind ofidolised my entire life so it was scary but ultimatelyI just had to rely on the fact that it was my movieand I understood the characters. Of course those guysare great because theyre so smart and they understandhow a movie works most efficiently and effectively andthey were spectacularly sweet to me and theyd just gookay great, what do you need and it was honour to havethem.

Gaynor Flynn: How do you feel about the industry now that thecraziness of the past is behind you?

Ben Affleck: I feel pretty good. I like this movie, Ilike where my life is heading. I like directing. Younever know, theres no guarantees I have my regretsbut hopefully thats in the past and I hope for thebest.

Gaynor Flynn: Would you like to work with your wife Jennifer Garner?

Ben Affleck: (laughs) I believe the work we will dotogether will not be in movies.


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