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Ben Affleck Actor

Ben Affleck

Despite Ben's previous accomplishments, he perhaps raised the most noise and received the most media coverage during his engagement flick with superstar Jennifer Lopez. Tall and handsome in a meat-eating sort of way, Ben Affleck has the looks of a matinee idol and the resume of an actor who honed his craft as an indie film slacker before flexing his muscles as a Hollywood star. A staple of Kevin Smith films and such seminal indies as Dazed and Confused, Affleck became a star and entered the annals of Hollywood legend when he and best friend Matt Damon wrote and starred in Good Will Hunting, winning a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for their work. Born in Berkeley, California on August 15, 1972 to a schoolteacher mother and drug rehab counselor father, Affleck was the oldest of two brothers. His younger brother, Casey, also became an actor. When he was very young, Affleck's family moved to the Boston area, and it was there that he broke into acting. At the age of eight, he starred in PBS's marine biology-themed The Voyage of the Mimi, endearing himself to junior high school science classes everywhere. The same year he made Mimi, Affleck made the acquaintance of Matt Damon, a boy two years his senior who lived down the street. The two became best friends and, of course, eventual collaborators. After a fling with higher education at both the University of Vermont and California's Occidental College, Affleck set out for Hollywood. He began appearing in made-for-TV movies and had a small role in School Ties, a 1992 film that also featured Damon. Further bit work followed in Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused (1993) and Kevin Smith's Mallrats (1995). Around this time, both Affleck and Damon were getting fed up with the lack of substantial work to be found in Hollywood, and they decided to write a screenplay that would feature them as the leads. Affleck's brother Casey introduced them to Gus Van Sant, who had directed Casey in To Die For. Thanks to Van Sant's interest, the script was picked up by Miramax, and in 1997 the story of a troubled mathematical genius living in South Boston became known as Good Will Hunting. Before the film's release, Affleck starred in Smith's Chasing Amy that same year; the tale of a comic book artist (Affleck) in love with a lesbian (Joey Lauren Adams), it received good reviews and showed Affleck to be a viable leading man. The subsequent success of Good Will Hunting and the Best Original Screenplay Oscar awarded to Affleck and Damon effectively transformed both young men from struggling actors into Hollywood golden boys. Having won his own Golden Boy, Affleck settled comfortably into a reputation as one of the industry's most promising young actors. His status was further enhanced by widespread media reports of an ongoing relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow.

The following year, Affleck could be seen in no less than three major films, ranging from his self-mocking supporting role in the Oscar-winning period comedy Shakespeare in Love to the thriller Phantoms to the big-budget box-office monster Armageddon. In 1999, Affleck continued to keep busy, appearing in a dizzying four movies. He could be seen as a dull bartender in 200 Cigarettes, an errant groom in Forces of Nature, a stock market head hunter in The Boiler Room, and a supporting cast member in Billy Bob Thornton's sophomore directorial effort, Daddy and Them. Finally, Affleck reunited with Smith and Damon for Dogma, starring with the latter as a pair of fallen angels in one of the year's more controversial films. In 2000, he would appear as an ex-con trying to mend his ways in Reindeer Games, with Charlize Theron. Re-teaming with Armageddon cohort Michael Bay again in 2001 for another exercise in overbudgeted excess, Affleck flew into action in Pearl Harbor. Despite unanimous lambasting from critics, Pearl Harbor blasted to number one at the box office, earning $75.2 million on its Memorial Day weekend opening and beginning a summer-2001 trend of high profile films with precipitous box-office runs. Following a self-mocking return to the Smith collective in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) and spearheading, along with Damon, the innovative HBO series Project: Greenlight, Affleck returned to the Hollywood machine with roles in Changing Lanes and The Sum of All Fears (both 2002). Filling the shoes of Harrison Ford as a green version of Ford's famous Jack Ryan persona, The Sum of All Fears contemplated a radical group's plan to detonate a nuclear weapon at a major sporting event during a time of particularly sensitive public distress at such an idea. With the massive success of Spider-Man in the summer of 2002 prompting numerous comic-book superhero revivals, Affleck would next suit up for the role of Daredevil. As a lawyer turned into a true public defender following a mishap involving radioactive waste, Daredevil's incredibly enhanced senses enable him to get the jump on New York City evil-doers and with his athletic physique and heroically protruding chin Affleck seemed just the man to suit-up for the job. In addition to acting and screenwriting, Affleck has also directed a short feature, the provocatively titled, I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meathook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney (1993).

Ben Affleck's Gone Directing

Helming debut on Lehane crime story. Variety reports that Oscar-winner Ben Affleck is poised to make his feature film directing debut on Gone, Baby, Gone, an adaptation of the mystery novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River).

Affleck will not star in the Touchstone pic, which begins shooting this fall in the Good Will Hunting star's hometown of Boston.

The trade says Gone, Baby, Gone "is about a pair of private detectives in a working-class Boston neighborhood who are hired to search for a kidnapped 4-year-old girl."

Amazon's book review says Gone revolves around "Kenzie and Gennaro, who live in the same working-class Dorchester neighborhood of Boston where they grew up, have gone to visit drug dealer Cheese in prison because they think he's involved in the kidnapping of 4-year-old Amanda McCready. Without sentimentalizing the grotesque figure of Cheese, Lehane tells us enough about his past to make us understand why he and the two detectives might share enough trust to possibly save a child's life when all the best efforts of traditional law enforcement have failed."

You can read the first chapter here.

Affleck's involvement with the project was first reported back in 2002 when it was set-up at Paramount (possibly as a starring vehicle for himself and then-love Jennifer Lopez).

Ben Affleck: The guy who gets Jersey Girl

This isn't Pearl Harbor-Ben Affleck, or Armageddon-Ben Affleck, or Daredevil-Ben Affleck. This is Jersey Girl. This is Kevin Smith-Ben Affleck. Or Bevin... Bevin Smaffleck.

"I think it's Kevin's best movie, " he says. "I think it's my best movie."

And the Lopez-Affleck wedding scene? It's no longer in the movie. And during our recent roundtable interview in New York, he explains why.

Come to think of it, if there was a wedding scene, it should have been between Smith and Affleck, culminating with an open-mouthed kiss and backed by Elton John's "Someone Saved My Life Tonight." Those guys are just too good for each other.

Q: Ben, welcome!

BEN AFFLECK: Thank you for having me!

Q: Time for a roundtable, are you down with it? I mean, can we talk? Do you prefer roundtables?

AFFLECK: I like roundtables because you can talk more directly to people. And you also can get kind of a vibe on what a journalist's take is on something, and have a conversation with them more. Sometimes you think, well, I see that that's your angle, but I kind of see it differently. You sort of can respond to it.

Q: Intimacy, don't you love it? But you get the vibe. The immediate feedback response. It's kind of more comfortable, and from an interviewee's point of view, it's less confrontational.

AFFLECK: Yeah. And journalists at press conferences are always pissed off. It's like, "Yes, my question is "Why do you suck?" (Laughs.)

Q: You've pretty much now discovered the other half of being an actor: talking about your work. You seem really comfortable with doing interviews, and you're doing a lot, do plan to keep on going with it? You're seeing the full commitment you have to a film?

AFFLECK: Yeah, I sort of think like that, you know? Now it's a process I sort of take for granted. No matter what it is, any time I take a job or look at a job, part of the thing is to immediately see it to the end and know that then I'll have to be there sitting there talking to journalists, talking about the movie, and then I'll be on a television talk show talking about the movie. So, I just think of it differently in terms of what the movies is and what I can talk about.

Q: We get the impression making Jersey Girl was tops for you? And now you get to talk about it.

AFFLECK: With a movie like Jersey Girl I really looked forward to this. I think there's stuff to talk about. I think it's substantive. And I'm proud of the movie.

Q: You're not going to get a Razzie Award for this one?

AFFLECK: Yes... well, let's keep my fingers crossed. (Laughs.) But I think there's something here.

You know, action movies are very... well... What is there to say? I hate that. That's really an irritating and frustrating sort of like thing where everybody is sort of in on the game. And it's like, "Alright, what do you want me to say about it?" It's like, "This is really in the tradition of the French New Wave." And you're trying to sort of hump something that speaks for itself. You either like it or you don't. Whereas [Jersey Girl] is actually very interesting.
Q: With your relationship with Kevin, do you think it's gotten to the point where you can just depend on him for a lot of things, and leave a lot of concerns to him?

AFFLECK: Yeah, I trust him completely, which is a really rare thing with a director. I trust him and I've depended on him. He offered me the most interesting roles of my career. Certainly, I depend on him for that. (Laughs.)

Although, his next movie he's doing is the first Kevin Smith movie that I will not be doing with him, 'cause he's selling-out, you know? He's doing Green Hornet. He's gone Hollywood.

Q: Like you haven't sold out...

AFFLECK: (Laughs, looking side-to-side.) Nope, not me. I'm indie. I'm keepin' it real.

Q: Or look at it this way, you're a Marvel guy.

AFFLECK: That's true! That's true. I can't cross-pollinate like that.

Q: But you guys have, you know, similar sensibilities.

AFFLECK: But, yeah, we have a good relationship, we have similar sensibilities. And whether or not we've become more similar to one another over the years, or just gotten to be more in tune with one another... I feel like when he writes I really understand it... I like it... and some people can say he really over-writes because he uses a lot of language, it's all language, and that's sort of the way I express myself, too, so I feel comfortable doing it. And by now Kevin doesn't have to explain himself to me, so it saves him time.
Q: What can Kevin pull out of you as an actor that maybe another director isn't able to? Like, how does your relationship benefit the film?

AFFLECK: It's hard to say. Probably because it's such a subjective thing for me. It hard for me to look really objectively at it. But I think... first of all he writes stories that have a bottom to them; they're real, and part of it is just the storytelling itself. If you have a scene that makes sense, and it's related to what happened to before and it's related to what comes after it, and there's an emotional reality that's running through that, then that makes you twice the actor right there anyway, rather than trying to imbue some piece of wooden dialogue with some resonance that's really never going to be there, no matter how hard you bang your head against it. And second of all, I'm just willing to take risks with Kevin, and I'm much more relaxed with him.

Q: Could you be more vulnerable?

AFFLECK: Yeah, probably more vulnerable, sure.

Q: In this movie you pretty much break it all down, no emotional barrier. And, you know, there is this perception that Kevin gets the best performances out of you. The best Ben Affleck.

AFFLECK: Right. I sort of feel that way, too. I mean, I like myself the most in his movies. I don't know what to say. Maybe it's comfort, maybe it's me being more vulnerable, maybe they're better-suited roles.

Q: And I suppose Kevin could have put you into some sort of hero role. It's fiction, but he kinda stays real to you.

AFFLECK: Yeah, I think he does understand. But like any friend, you know, like with Kevin, I see the best of him. And I think he sort of sees the best of me... which is what you hope for from friends, you know? Like, those are the people you can count on to be supportive of you. And I think in that sense, yeah, he knows me well enough. And I think maybe because he's worked with me for so long he's also comfortable just being really honest. Which I really need. I think sometimes directors don't do this. Sometimes they think, "Oh, this guy, he's just an actor, he's just going to show-up and kind of know what he's doing, he's got his own thing that he does." Whereas I don't work very well that way. I like to get a lot of input from the director. And Kevin is very straightforward and direct, like, "Nope, that's not it. Change it. Try this." Which I really appreciate, and value.

Q: You'd die in a Woody Allen picture.

AFFLECK: Probably. Apparently he just sits over there and doesn't say a word. Yeah, it would make me insane. A lot of actors talk about just falling into a spiral of insecurity. (Laughs.) It's like, "Does he hate me? Am I doing it wrong?"

Q: So, you prefer to work within a good context...

AFFLECK: Oh yeah, definitely.

Q: Did you discuss this process with Jason Biggs? He recently worked with Woody Allen.

AFFLECK: Yeah, he actually had a great time with Woody. Some actors aren't comfortable with it, but I guess the thing you just have to do is... what I'm told is... and again I don't know anymore than anybody else who has seen a Woody Allen movie... but it's like, if he's not talking to you, your job. (Laughs.) You know what I mean? Like, take that as something good.

Q: Or he could fire you...

AFFLECK: If he comes up and talks to you a lot, you're probably going to lose your job. I mean (laughs), the man is not afraid to fire an actor. Yeah, he'll just cut your head right off. Henry VIII.
Q: Can we talk about the editing of Jersey Girl?


Q: There's one scene that, well, caused a big fuss, much was made over its omission: the wedding scene with you and Jennifer. Can you talk about it from your perspective, because obviously there is a whole personal perspective, publicity-thing going on?

AFFLECK: Oh, sure. No, I understand why it becomes a deal, and I think for Kevin it was sort of a Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't. If you cut it out, then everyone says, "Why did you cut it out?" And then if you leave it in, "I think it's distracting." I mean, already Jen's in the first eleven or twelve minutes of the movie, and I think there's a process in the first few minutes of the movie, like, the audience has to get past this – like there is a hurdle there – of saying, "Here are these people that we've heard about all the time on tabloid television shows, or whatever, now they're playing characters." You have to sort of get past that.

I think the movie succeeds at sort of getting you past that and sort of getting you engrossed in the movie; at least it does for me. I think having the wedding scene in there it would just be a distraction – you know what I mean? – because you think, "Oh, look at this. Irony, irony!" Or whatever you would think; maybe you wouldn't be that kind. (Laughs.)

Q: But were you concerned about that?

AFFLECK: It was irrelevant to me. I had from the beginning was urging Kevin – I mean, the movie was two hours and forty minutes – that that has got be cut down. And the first section of the movie was always structurally sort of awkward. It never worked, and it was always like maybe eight minutes longer. And it never really felt like a first act, it always really felt like a prologue. And a twenty-minute prologue is a sort of awkward structure – particularly when all you need to really understand about it is that: this was a guy who fell in love with this woman and they were going to have a kid, and he had his life planned this way. And Kevin makes the argument that you didn't see me get married, but you believe I'm married. You don't actually have to see it. And Kevin is also maturing as a filmmaker in some interesting ways. I think he found a very literal way of telling the story, and I think he also like the fact that showing other scenes of this couple was a more elliptical way to communicate that. He that it would become a thing, either way. And I totally get it, obviously.
Q: Was it painful for you and for Kevin that all of this garbage surrounded it?

AFFLECK: Yeah, it's a shame. It's too bad. It is. And I hope that ultimately what happens is that people are able to sort of look at the story and see that actually this movie is good. You know what I mean? Because I think it deserves that.

I feel bad, and I feel so much a part of it. Here I was, and I asked Jen to do this small part as a favor to me. And I said, "Hey Kevin, what if Jennifer does it?" And I thought, "Oh, yeah, great." And then now it turns out that it's... that that element of the story threatens to subsume the rest of the movie. It's a shame because it's a really great movie. I think it's Kevin's best movie. I think it's my best movie.

Q: And she's really good in it...

AFFLECK: And Jen's really good.

Q: In casting the film, who came first: Jen or Raquel [Castro, the young actress who plays his daughter]?

AFFLECK: Jen. Jen came first, and then they wanted to cast somebody that would... Kevin liked the idea of having a kind of The Ghost of That Character kind of haunt the movie in a way throughout, by having Raquel look so much like her. And also, it was sort of serendipity. I mean, she was also the best actress. I mean, as you can see Raquel has a pretty appealing, engaging kind of precocious, sparkly quality that's... it was just luck really that she happened to the film. (Laughs.)

Q: And she worships Jennifer Lopez.

AFFLECK: She does worship Jennifer Lopez. (Laughs.)

Q: What would you say to Kevin's fans, and your fans, the people that know you from Kevin's films, about the fact that Jersey Girl takes a different road emotionally? It's a different take. What would you say to them about that?

AFFLECK: Well, to me it doesn't feel as much as a departure as some of the reactions that I've seen and have had indicated. I've seen some people who said, you know, "Kevin Smith's films are angry, you know? This isn't an angry movie." And I've never seen Kevin's movies as angry. They've certainly been profanity-laden, sexually explicit, often times scatological but not necessarily angry, you know? (Laughs) This movie is all those things. It's sort of as much as you can for the PG.

Q: Different but entirely relative?

AFFLECK: I don't think Kevin's like... I don't think this is as radical a departure as say like if you are the Farrellys, and all of a sudden you did a movie without any of those kinds of outrageous humor.

Q: Well, in Jersey Girl there's some pretty heavy stuff.

AFFLECK: I think Kevin's fans will.... To me this movie is very close to Chasing Amy, frankly. If you like Chasing Amy, this is the natural progression of that. This is the same guy who made Chasing Amy, making the same kind of movie when Kevin and I were twenty-three and twenty-four, we were the things that occupied our minds. Like trying to figure out how you have a relationship with a girl, and what this girl is like. You know, stuff like that. She's got all this sexual experience, or what is the nature of lesbianism? And can I squeeze myself in there somehow? You get ten years old, and it's different.

Q: In as sense, over the films you've matured. From Mallrats to Jersey Girl you've gone from dork to father.

AFFLECK: (Laughs.) I think so. And jumped from trying to just being focused, like, the whole energy of your life is focused on women and girls and sex and relationships and how that works... to growing old, taking on more responsibilities and trying to become a man. And I think Kevin's audience is going through that same process.

Q: And for the first time a kid takes center stage in one of Kevin's films. How difficult was it on a set like this where you have a young girl on, can you curse as much? Can you be as scatological as you would be? The typical humor here might, well, you're looking at a working situation where you have be careful.

AFFLECK: It didn't seem like it held Kevin back. I mean there were times where something would slip out and I would get admonished, but Kevin is used to it because he has a daughter. Although Kevin's whole thing is, "I want my daughter to know about foul language. This foul language put her in private school." (Laughs.)
Q: Talking about stuff on the set, Raquel said the absolute funniest moment for her was when you burned your butt on the stove. She was high on that. She loved it.

AFFLECK: Was she high on that? She liked that. (Laughs.)

Q: She didn't repeat your profanity, though. Turns out she's not allowed to.

AFFLECK: It turns out that eight-year-olds are really geared into the scatological humor. (Laughs.) And that's really Kevin's wheelhouse. That's Kevin's fan-base. (Laughs.)

Q: Just to be sure, you really burned your ass?

AFFLECK: I really did. I burned myself. Many other embarrassing things happened, and I'm glad Raquel only repeated the most PG-rated of them.
Q: You and Kevin really labored over the construction, the editing of Jersey Girl, or Kevin of course, and it was originally pretty long. What among the forty-five minutes that got cut from the film were you most sad to see go?

AFFLECK: For me, well, I'll tell you what I was most happiest to see go was the Town Hall speech, which went on for... it was about an eight-minute scene. You heard all of the speech, and that was really Kevin doing like a straight Frank Capra-thing. I mean, even when we shot it I was like, "You can't do just Frank Capra anymore. It's too... people just won't accept it. It's straightforward, it's un-ironic. You can't do it. It's not going to work. We should cut it out." And he was like, "They will!" I don't know that ultimately I was totally right, I mean, I think it ended up just being redundant anyway. You know what I mean? It wasn't that it didn't work. But that was the happiest thing, and we argued about that a lot, Kevin and I.

Q: And the stuff you didn't like to see go?

AFFLECK: Probably the most emotionally raw and vulnerable onscreen moments I've ever had was the reaction to the Gertrude [Jennifer Lopez] character's death. And there's much longer and sort of jarring versions of that that I wish were still in the movie, but I see... I can also understand as a director why it's like... you didn't get to know that character well enough to substantiate having that degree of grief kind of thrust in your face. And there's a certain discretion about sort of pulling away from it. I think just as an actor I was like, I thought it was a good scene, and I wanted it to be in there.

Q: And there's this reaction you have to the doctor, where you kind of just push here way. It's just subtle enough, but it's angry. Didn't you, like, beat-up the nurse? Wasn't that one of the takes?

AFFLECK: (Laughs.) Well, I didn't... but there was... it just sort of got into like retching and sobbing. And maybe it was scenery-chewing, but it felt really authentic to me. I don't know. I was something really radically different from the sort of conservative ways... like in a movie, say Paycheck – you don't ever get a chance to even approach anything like that. This was like saying I'm an actor who has depth and range and I can do this. And I'm willing to be about to show that.

Q: Concerning your character's relationship with Liv [Tyler] in the movie, do you think it's implausible that her character would hit on your character? It's never happened to me.

AFFLECK: (Laughs.) Yeah, I mean. As you've noticed if you're a Kevin Smith fan, this is a Kevin Smith theme: Attractive, brazen, forward woman propositions you for sex and talks openly about it. I keep looking for these women in real life that exist in Kevin Smith land. (Laughs.) It really offended me. There were Taiwanese people who really were like, "That's not real. We don't like that. You like forward women? Oh, shame, shame for her!" I was like, "Alright, shame for her, whatever."

Q: Good for me...

AFFLECK: Right! (Laughs.) That's part of the appeal!
Q: And you've never known any forward women?

AFFLECK: (Laughs.) I mean, you know, there are definitely forward women out there in the world. I think one of the things that's really nice about the way Liv played it was – and you can go back to the character that was writing her dissertation on, whatever it was, the female orgasm or something in Mallrats, that Kevin has this recurrent, raven-haired academic, who is sort of sexually more alert than the guy – but one of the things I liked that Liv did with it was the she added almost like a nerdiness to it, a kind of funkiness and awkwardness to it that made it really disarming. I thought it was kind of appealing, and that's somebody who I have never exactly known. The thing I liked about it was that it was tempered with something else, and it was really nice.

And then there was Kevin's other thing where it would take somebody like that to snap [my character] out of this seven-year thing where he's totally submerged his sexuality. And he really wanted to have that moment where [Kevin] describes it as, "the dam breaking." Where [my character] is not allowed to think of himself as a sexual person in any way because he has a child and he's going to devote his entire energy to that child. And that was sort of a fun scene to play, where [Kevin] was like, "He should be like he hasn't had a drink of water in four days. The guy on the desert island." It was fun.

Q: I think there can be a case that your character in this film is made to look a little too sentimental to be true. What are your thoughts on that?

AFFLECK: I think it's interesting. I think that's the most radical thing about the movie, because it almost suggests something, well...

Q: Sacrifice...

AFFLECK: Yes, how much do you sacrifice for your children? And how much do you say, "You're a child and you're not emotionally developed enough nor sophisticated enough to understand the real world and the demands put on me as an adult." And think it's radically conservative in an interesting way.

Ben Affleck's pay-cut

Boo-hoo. Poor giant-headed Ben Affleck has taken a massive pay-cut in order to gain some box-office respect.

We all have our dreams. The square-jawed hunk has put his usual multi-million dollar fee to one side in order to star in Truth, Justice And The American Way, about the mysterious death of TV's Superman George Reeves, who was shot dead in Beverly Hills in 1959.

According to WENN news, Affleck is so sure that the fact-based drama co-starring Adrian Brody will be hit, that he’s only getting $2.8m for his efforts. Poor little lamb, how will he afford to eat next month?

The Chosen One : An Interview with Ben Affleck

It’s never easy being the guy who’s taking over the role made famous by two others. After proving he can handle the pressure of being the lead in big budgeted films like Pearl Harbor, Ben Affleck has the heavy task of being the new Jack Ryan from the books written by Tom Clancy. He carries the burden of replacing the great Harrison Ford, who replaced Alec Baldwin. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Ben talked about his feelings towards The Sum of All Fears.

WM: Do you have any second thoughts with this film post 9/11?

BA: We probably wouldn’t have made this movie after September 11 for the May release, but in a way, but I am glad we did make it before; and I think that because the attack (in the film) is presented in what I feel and shot in a way that is not only non exploitive, I but kind of I find the way that Phil did it to have been like eerily prescient in terms of the way that the media would cover an event like that and how we as citizens would receive the accounts of that event. And, its there’s no doubt in my mind that it changed the outlook entirely. We made an escapist kind of political thriller that we wanted to imbue with some humanity and some realism and that was meant to be, to raise some alarms a little bit as regards kind of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Something Clancy was very concerned about in 1991 when he wrote the book. And, not only that but the degree to which those weapons from the former Soviet Union are being monitored and safeguarded and watched over. Not just the materials, but the expertise, which is in the people who have the training to build and detonate nuclear weapons. That’s good that’s good. So, I think those concerns are still valid, if not more valid than ever and it’s a hard thing because I still think the movie is entertainment. But I don’t consider the entertainment has to by definition be fluffy or mindless or stupid. I think the entertainment is the essence of drama. This movie went from being a spy thriller with some kind of undertones of a warning or alarm about a situation or state of the world to being a drama. To being something that plays differently, and in fact, affects audiences differently and is a result of a seismic shift in the perspective of the entire audience in the whole country that happened on one day and it’s a sort of remarkable strange thing to have the whole world changed in a day. It’s in a perspective that we are all still living with and dealing with and I certainly don’t pretend to know what everybody’s ready for, what’s appropriate or what the right thing is. I know that in test screenings and showing the movie to audiences and they have screened it quite a bit, there has been less than 1% of the people who have said that they were really upset by it or really objected to it. It’s a small statistical sample, but I think significant enough to suggest that we’re not going to go out there and wholesale offends everybody. We wouldn’t want to do that if that were the case.

WM: What have you heard about the reactions to the film?

BA: I think there have been screenings in the East Coast as well, but the media screenings were for magazine editors and so forth. But they did not do energy research cards on the East Coast. Look, I’m from the East Coast I was in New York. I live in New York; I live eight blocks from the World Trade Center. I don’t underestimate the impact and the legacy that incident has on people. And that there may be people whom find that objectionable. If you are still really feeling raw and sore about this you shouldn’t go see this movie.

WM: Do you think the East Coast, specifically New Yorkers, will be more affected than the West Coast?

BA: I don’t really know. That’s one of those unanswerable questions. Everybody has to gage their own degree of trauma and how much it bothered them. I can’t say that if you are bothered by September 11 and you live in Sedona, Arizona or NewMexico or wherever that is, that you can’t that’s invalid. That your trauma is like well, c’mon, get over it, you weren’t in New York, well I was closer, Well, I lived eight blocks away, well, I lived ten blocks away. Well, my cousin’s sister died there, well my father died there; I don’t think it’s a competition about how traumatized people were, I think people were deeply moved and affected and traumatized. Not only in this country. I think this was the single biggest terrorist attack against British citizens in history? I think a hundred and something-British people died. And I don’t really, it’s a minefield and it’s a game I really don’t want to get into about talking about who had more at stake or to lose or whatever. I think it’s fair to say that everybody was affected by it. Some people more than others and that has to do with a lot of factors maybe geography, maybe proximity, maybe sensitivity. I don’t really know. I know that it’s conceivable that some people would find this disturbing. I mean everybody should find it disturbing. The fact that welive in a world now where you see something terrible happen in the movie, it should disturb you. Violence on movies and television should be disturbing. That should be the point of it. It shouldn’t be done to make a big splash and have everybody oh and ah at countless thousands of deaths and that maybe one of the transitions we’ve made is that we no longer look at that in such a flip way and this movie doesn’t ask you to look at it in a flip way. This movie doesn’t ask you to look at it asks you to look at it in a real way and to consider it and there’s a lot of issues to be considered and a lot of things some people. You know it’s a divided country. It’s a big country for all people. Some people say that we’ve moved on, we’ve closed the door and we’re moving forward and some people really have it and they’re still dismantling the INS and building it back up and only 2% of the ships that come into the United States are searched there’s a lot of debate whether we are adding money to the intelligence budget, to the defense budget. How are we going to do that? These debates are lively and important and substantive and ought to be had. I’m not going to pretend that we made this movie to contribute to those particulardebates after September 11, because we didn’t anticipate it, nor could we have. But I can tell you that I won’t personally be sitting here or promoting the movie or being any way involved with it if I thought it was inappropriate. Or, if I thought it shouldn’t be. And I absolutely respect your right to disagree with me. And that’s, if so, then you should say so.

WM: How did you get the part?

BA: There’s a little bit of a funny way it works with agents. Is that your agent knows what goes around going and what’s going on, I didn’t even know about it. But my agent knew that I loved the series and I loved the books and I think when he heard that Harrison Ford wasn’t going to do it he called up and said what’s the story? Is it not going to be Harrison Ford? How is it going to work? And the first I’ve heard about it was him calling me and saying, “they’re not going to do it with Harrison Ford, but they’d be interested in talking to you about doing it. What do you think?” So I said boy, first of all it’s very intimidating and I thought, I’m no Harrison Ford. I’m not just going to step in there and try to follow in those footsteps, that’s madness. You could only be disappointed people. I’m not that guy. I’m not the guy that’s worked in the CIA for 30 years and understands everything and got it all wired. I can’t play that, but I love the books and I’d love to do it if there’s a way that it can work. And when I sat down and talked to them they had a really interesting idea, which I immediately hooked into, which was that it’s a contemporary story, but the guy is just starting off, he’s just courting the woman he’s going to marry he’s just starting it off there, he doesn’t have his just getting his feet wet. He doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing, He doesn’t know how to dress right to come to work, he’s a little over eager, he gets thrust into this situation. You’re a young guy, why would be talking to the director, why would you be in the room with the President? What I thought was really interesting.

WM: Although you shot this film prior to 9/11, did you ever ponder the thought?

BA: Well, I’ll tell ya, this is nothing you could have predicted. But my brother was on Canal Street when September 11th happened and he was video taping outside his window. There’s this big disaster and then you have panic and bedlam, it takes a day or two for people to erect guards and stop people and do that kind of stuff. I think initially, it just sort of panics, about people driving the wrong way up the street, some people still walking their dogs, and some people crying, it’s like chaos and so. I’ve had my experience with going to the CIA and working with the CIA. We were sitting in the car at the airport and we were talking about research and stuff and a police officer came over finally told us what happened.

WM: With your buddy Matt (Damon), Gweneth Paltrow, and even Madonna in London doing stage work, is this something you might be interested in doing?

BA: I’ve did a lot of theatre before I ever got a job in acting in movies and television and then once I did I did less of that and that was to try to make a living and that was something that I was interested in. But my brother and Matt and I have done a ton of plays. Something I was definitely interested in doing. In fact I was talking to my agent about trying to do a one act a one act with Liev in NY sometime next year. Leiv’s one the smartest people I know.

Ben Affleck Addiction

Three years is a long time in Hollywood - just Ask Ben Affleck.

Back in 1997 this tall, likeable 26-year-old was appearing in low budget independent productions like Chasing Amy.

Then he just happened to write the Oscar-winning hit Good Will Hunting with best friend Matt Damon. What followed were supporting roles in the big budget blockbuster Armageddon and the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love.

Now he has joined the ranks of the mainstream leading men with a starring role opposite Sandra Bullock in the romantic comedy Forces of Nature.

Our man of the moment even had a highly publicised fling with Hollywood's golden girl of the moment, Gwyneth Paltrow, although that liaison ended earlier this year.

And he's still only 26.

Along the way, Affleck's acting fees have soared to the level where he is now getting the equivalent of the entire budget of the small films he started out in.

And he doesn't apologise for grabbing the big money offers while he is still a hot property.

"No actor forgets the times he couldn't get a job. I think everyone doing this operates from that fear. You don't want that momentum to stop when you get it," he says.

But just to prove he hasn't been completely seduced by the multi-million dollar fees, he has gone back to his indie roots for forthcoming projects. He will be part of the ensemble cast for the New Year's Eve comedy 200 Cigarettes and will play a renegade angel in Kevin Smith's controversial religious comedy Dogma. He has also announced plans to make a 2 million dollar romantic comedy called The Third Wheel with, once again, Matt Damon.

His motto is to keep surprising people. "One of the things that Gwyneth taught me is to maintain a level of work where interesting people you like want to work with you. You do that by doing things that are interesting, not by playing into some expectation."

Forces of Nature is Affleck's response to the inevitable studio pressure to do a big budget romantic comedy. He plays a groom-to-be whose attempts to get to his wedding are complicated by an attractive and free-spirited travelling companion (Bullock) and a hurricane.

"The guy I play is bewildered and indecisive, it was a chance to lighten things up with an un-vain performance.

"I like the fact this raises issues close to my heart, questions about commitment and risk and certainty."
Sandra believes her co-star is appealing because while he is good looking and physically strong, he can also appear vulnerable.

"Ben doesn't get embarrassed about showing something affects him. You can see it in his face, which I think women like. For men he's so big, but he can also be a total goof. He's not just a handsome guy sucking in his cheeks, there's a lot going on in his head."

Now Affleck divides his time between his apartments in Los Angeles and New York - and he admits it has been a spectacular transition from struggling actor sleeping on friends' floors to Hollywood star.

"Anybody who says there's no such thing as professional jealousy in this business is a liar. But I always wished people the best. Maybe I'm naive, but I felt if I just kept plugging away, it would work out for me too."

He got the acting bug early while growing up in the middle class suburbs of Cambridge, Massachusetts. He had his first acting job at the age of eight on public service television. Matt Damon lived just down the road and the two were friends. Affleck later studied drama and then headed for California where he and Matt Damon agreed that whoever was successful first would help the other one out. His first film role was in 1992 in School Ties, followed by Dazed and Confused.

His mother Chris, a teacher, is still one of Affleck's closest advisors. She was worried about all the fame and money that comes with making it in movies, but she believes her son is level-headed enough to cope.

Affleck himself is certainly not worried about being too close to Hollywood.

"It wasn't my childhood fantasy to work with Truffaut or be in obscure films. I like Midnight Run better than I like The Bicycle Thief. It was films like Die Hard and Bladerunner that made me want to be an actor."

What does worry him is losing touch with ordinary life because of the trappings of film stardom.

"It concerns me that you can become cut off from real life. I've seen it happen with others, you hear about how their lives changed. You see their work and it's less and less about real life because they stop having real experiences to draw on.

"There's also a danger to your own personality if you surround yourself with people who just want to be near you for sycophantic reasons or because they think it makes them look cool."

Ben Affleck Seeks 'Truth' in Ex-Superman Film

Ben Affleck, who once played a blind superhero in "Daredevil," will play another superhero -- sort of.

The 32-year-old actor has signed on to star in "Truth, Justice and the American Way," report news sources.

The Focus Features project centers on the 1950s "Adventures of Superman" TV star George Reeves (Affleck) and his mysterious shooting death in June 1959 that was deemed suicide, but some believe was murder. Diane Lane will play Toni Mannix, a studio executive's wife who might have been romantically involved with Reeves. Adrien Brody co-stars as an investigator looking into the death.

The project, based on the script by Paul Bernbaum, also examines Reeves' mixed feelings about being typecast as the iconic Man of Steel.

Director Allen Coulter will begin shooting in the summer.

Affleck last starred opposite James Gandolfini in the lackluster holiday comedy "Surviving Christmas." He next stars as a successful Hollywood talent agent who's about to lose it all in "Man About Town."

Jennifer Lopez's engagement ring from Ben Affleck up for sale

"Bennifer," the 6.1-carat pink diamond engagement ring actor Ben Affleck bought for Jennifer Lopez, is on the block a year after the couple broke up.
New York Jeweler Harry Winston reacquired the ring, which has a price that's available only to "serious buyers," a spokeswoman for the jeweler told World Entertainment News Network.

Lopez reportedly gave the $1.2 million pink solitaire dubbed "Bennifer" back to Affleck when they split up in early 2004.

Lopez married salsa star Marc Anthony last June. Affleck has been dating "Daredevil" co-star Jennifer Garner.

Ben Affleck 'to pop the question'

Actor Ben Affleck is set to propose to his sexy actress girlfriend Jennifer Garner, according to close friends of the "Goodwill Hunting" star.

A school friend of Affleck's told US People magazine that the love-struck couple may get engaged on Valentine's Day.

"It's my understanding that he's going to give her a ring," the friend told the magazine.

They are "like high school sweethearts," the friend said. "They're very lovey-dovey."

Affleck popped the question to actress-turned-singer Jennifer Lopez several years ago, but the couple never made it to the altar.

Lopez quickly married Latin singing star Marc Anthony and the pair are set to make their first public performance together at this year's Grammy's, according to news.com.au.

Ben and Jennifer II pair began dating last year. They met on the set of their film "Daredevil".

Hairy situation spells trouble for Ben and Jenn

If Ben Affleck doesn't clean up his act, his steamed sweetie Jennifer Garner might dump the schlump!
According to squeaky clean Star maggie, Jen is tired of her guy turning her Brentwood lair into a pig sty, and she's really sick of his cigarettes.
``She says he smokes too much in the house and she hates the way it smells,'' a source told Star.
Garner's own Oscar Madison also leaves dirty dishes on the counter and wet towels on the bathroom floor and refuses to put the toilet seat down, tattles the tabloid.
And we wonder why J. Lo was glad to be rid of him!
Garner, who stepped out with her Hollywood honey to a Valentine's Day dinner in Santa Monica the other night looking less than glam, also is not enamored of her inamorato's personal hygiene.
``She wanted him to get his back waxed, and he didn't take the suggestion very well,'' Star's spy said. ``She jokingly calls him a grizzly bear.''
Now, you may remember, the subject of Ben's need for manscaping hit the A-wire last summer when a friend of Enza Sambataro, the Newton chick with whom Ben had a summer fling, e-mailed all her pals about the actor's ``hairy stomach'' and ``gross back hair'' that he shed ``all over the couch.''
Star reports that Ben may have tried to make up for his odiferous ways by sending his honey a bouquet of tulips and orchids that was sooo big Garner's assistant had trouble carrying it!
Sadly though, Ben's ``Daredevil'' date left her blooms atop the car as the couple tried to speed away from the paparazzi after their casual Valentine dinner.
May we suggest some Glade PlugIns?

Ben Affleck in Rehab

Ben Affleck is the latest high-powered celeb with sobriety problems.

The Oscar winner and Hollywood scenester has entered the Malibu-based Promises--the same facility where Paula Poundstone is a current patient--for treatment for alcohol abuse, his publicist announced Friday.

Affleck, who turns 32 on August 15, voluntarily checked himself into the facility Tuesday.
"Ben is a self-aware and smart man who has decided that a fuller life awaits him without alcohol," his publicist, David Pollick, said in a statement Friday. "He has chosen to seek out professional assistance and is committed to traveling a healthier road with the support of his family, friends and fans."

No further details were disclosed.

Affleck is no stranger to alcoholism. He has blamed the breakup of his parents on his dad Tim's battles with booze. Now sober, Tim Affleck works at a California-based rehab center and once even tried to counsel Robert Downey Jr.

The younger Affleck, who starred as a flyboy in the wannabe blockbuster Pearl Harbor and played a recovering alcoholic in Bounce, shared a Best Original Screenplay Oscar with longtime buddy Matt Damon for Good Will Hunting. He's one of the costars in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which hits theaters August 24.

His other credits include Shakespeare in Love, Forces of Nature, Dogma, Armageddon, Chasing Amy and Dazed and Confused.

Ben Affleck: Cashing his “Paycheck”

All we’ve heard about in 2003 is Ben/Jen or “Beniffer” and are they or are they not getting hitched. This leads us to forget that the two are not joined at the hip but are talented, separate performers in their own right. Ben won an

Oscar with Matt for writing Good Will Hunting and has played everything from a government agent to astronaut to superhero. What most people don’t realize is that Ben is funny. Hilarious at times and very clever.
When we spoke to him about his role in the new sci-fi action thriller Paycheck in which he co-stars with Kill Bill’s Uma Thurman, the actor was casual in grey hoodie, striped shirt, jeans and sported a devilish goatee. He was quite devilish in his answers to our questions, especially the one about his relationship with J.Lo. Ben chatted very candidly about his failures, mistakes, the tabloids, advice from Gwyneth and his hopes for future projects. He even spoke Spanish for us..with a perfect accent. Evidently a skill he's gained from his relationships with J.Lo and her family. He’s spending the holidays with Jen, his family and then hers.
TeenHollywood: If you were 15 years old again and somebody gave you a chance to use this see-into-the-future machine and shows you this future, your life now, what would the 15-year-old have to say?
Ben: Wow, I think that kid would think he had been given a bum machine. I would be like, ‘what’s your con?’ I don’t think I would have had the psychological capacity to understand what all those things mean, I’m not sure I have it now really. It’s something I continue to process, I continue to evaluate the pros and cons of my life. It continues to surprise me. Every time I’ve thought like, ‘this is how my life’s gonna go, I’m gonna do this, this and this’ and it’s turned out completely different.

It gives truth to the old adage ‘if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans’. One of the problems with you when you’re 15, 16, 17 and 18 is you think you know everything. Like, ‘dad, you’re an idiot’. And then turns out when you’re 25 you’re surprised how much the old guy has learned.
TeenHollywood: What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever done?
Ben: Climbed in my window. I was on location, somebody showed up and was climbing the window.

TeenHollywood: Did you throw Matt out of there?

Ben: [cracks up laughing] I was like bro, stop this! I’m just not going to play opposite you in a home game of "Mr. Ripley". So that’s how that went.

TeenHollywood: I wanted to ask you about all the Red Sox references in the movie. Was that your influence?

Ben: Yeah, I try to pass it off. For one thing it was the Mets initially in the script. I mean I have family in Boston. I’d rather say I worship Beelzebub in a film than say my favourite baseball game is the Mets. So I slipped it by John [Woo, the director], I was kinda like, ‘it’s an interesting thing, baseball. Not that it matters but I think maybe we’d get a better reaction if we used Red Sox, what do you think’? He was like ‘nngg’.

TeenHollywood: He couldn’t care less, right?

Ben: Yeah, it’s just a sports team to him. Because he’s a big fan either way. I kinda played it cool. There was that, and it led to many more victories to come. I thought, this augers well. So I knew Gigli was dog s***, you know what I’m saying? This f***** better pan out for me. [We all laugh].

TeenHollywood: You barely got this role, I understand. It almost went to your best buddy.
Ben: Well, I wouldn’t say barely. Just a second, it’s not barely. Yeah, John saw The Bourne Identity, loved it obviously. It’s an obvious choice for this movie. In fact so obvious that while Matt was honored to meet John and wanted to work with him he was kinda like ‘I just can’t do two amnesia pictures or else I’m just gonna be amnesia guy’. He called me after the meeting and he said you’ve got to get hold of this script, it’s really smart, it’s good, it’s Philip K. Dick, it’s John Woo. As luck would have it for me, John was meeting with Matt in New York and he flew back and the movie I’m told on the plane was Changing Lanes [in which Ben starred]. And he dug it so when we landed he offered me the part and I was like this is serendipity. But I refuse to pay Matt a commission.
TeenHollywood: You made this sarcastic mention of Gigli. Do you disarm your critics by being your own critic?

Ben: There’s no disarming my critics my friends. They refuse to be disarmed. Hey, I’m not entirely dim. I saw the movie ahead of time and I thought, 'well, we’re in for it, we’re gonna

get wacked'. And if it was two other random actors it would have just quietly slipped away. There were four or five other movies that did zero business and just kind of went away and it would have been like, did that come out? They pay me very well, I went into this with a bunch of other people. I’m gonna support the movie and promote it and make sure it didn’t fail for lack of awareness.
TeenHollywood: What did you learn from the experience?
Ben: One, it’s a good illustration of the fact that you can’t tie your self esteem or your sense of well-being to your career. It’s just too up and down a business. You’re gonna have some misses, and some of them big. What are you gonna do? Go hang yourself in the bathroom? I mean it happens. But I really felt good about this movie [Paycheck]. I felt like it worked.

TeenHollywood: And Jersey Girl is coming.

Ben: And Jersey Girl I know is wonderful. Interestingly enough I think Jersey Girl will be the movie that demonstrates that it really wasn’t so much about me and Jen.

TeenHollywood: What did you learn from the tabloid feeding frenzy over you and Jennifer?

Ben: Unfortunately we helped sell a lot of tabloids, but it sort of hurt. And we take responsibility for that, we made a mistake. We shouldn’t have been available at all to any degree. We were just dating and having fun, and we thought this is nice. And I had been through it with Gwyneth, so I thought, what’s the worst thing that could happen? I actually know the answer to that question, which is nice. That’s like my only flaw when I play poker, sometimes I call too many hands. I’m like 'what could you have?' Well, aces! Turn em.

TeenHollywood: But isn’t reading this stuff upsetting?
Ben: It’s distracting, and frankly it really hurts my feelings. I have a family and other people care about this, it’s not just me, there’s other people involved. But I sort of take comfort in the knowledge that most thinking people understand that the tabloids are basically fictitious. That they pay sources, that they lie. Most people don’t really think that bat boy has returned, or that George Bush is an alien… well cut off that last one. I just don’t read it, I don’t pay attention. Gwyneth told me a smart thing a long time ago. I got all bent out of shape when I did a few interviews for the first time in London, for the London Times. The guy seemed perfectly nice, a reasonable guy. And I went home and it was like [British Accent] ‘Ben Affleck is the stupidest and most pretentious b*****d I have ever met’. I was like ‘aaaahhhh! I can’t believe this’! And she said, ‘you know it’s not really about you, it’s about some projected thing, some identity that’s out there. It’s not really about you, he doesn’t know you’. I thought, well look, that’s true. There’s a way to divorce yourself from it and not personalize it.
TeenHollywood: Okay, we have to ask. Was there truth to that lap dancer story up in Canada?

Ben: The people who work on the movie [Paycheck] really get it. I had like 18 other people who were there that knew it was totally false. At the end of the day, I just try to pay not that much attention to it.
TeenHollywood: Second “have to ask” question. Are you and your sweetheart going to get married?
Ben: I’ll answer this question. I think it’s important to address it. It is now legal in Massachusetts, and

Matt and I have set a date. New Years day with a honeymoon in Greece. [huge laughter].

TeenHollywood: Okay. Moving on..your character in Paycheck has his memory erased. Do you have any memories that you’d like to erase?

Ben: I think you’d be tempted to have some non-events, things that didn’t happen [erased]. I think even the things that happen to you that are bad, or things that are difficult, the mistakes I’ve made, the failures I’ve had. All that stuff I think serves, I hope, to make me more interesting. I think because it helps you as a person it helps you as an actor.

TeenHollywood: You are really action-dude in this film. How did you tackle all the stunt work?
Ben: Yeah, I had a lot of stunts. I worked out a lot with abject fear and intimidation of John Woo, like thinking what is he gonna ask me to do? The worst thing I could think of happening was for John to say ‘you’re gonna do this and this and this’. And me try to do it and look foolish and be like’ I can’t do it’. And then John would say ‘we need a stunt man, you are failure! Shame’! I was real scared of the whole thing and so I just killed myself working out trying to do a lot of flexibility, a lot of weight lifting, a little bit of running. And with the weight lifting a lot of heart rate raising exercises, like squats, one leg up lifts, military presses.

I ride a motorcycle and I really wanted to do it, and I did as much as John would let me. John actually is a very conservative guy. He likes to be cautious with his actors. I think the Hong Kong attitude is keep the actors safe and kill the stuntmen. Sometimes he would lament like, ‘In Hong Kong after shootout scene, the stuntman peel hot casing from face and they say ready to go again sir’. I was like, ‘oooookay’!
TeenHollywood: Do you step up your workout regime before you do a movie?
Ben: [laughing] I begin my workout regime when I do a movie, otherwise I couldn’t see any reason in the world to work out. I’m not one of these guys who’s like ‘yeah I just love the gym. Just got to be there in the morning’. I’m like, ‘get up at four, you gotta be f****** kidding. Go to the gym’

TeenHollywood: Can you talk about working with Uma?

Ben: Uma, I think she’s actually younger than me, but she has been successful for so much longer than I have. She’s seen the ride, she’s worked with all the directors, she’s been the super-hot thing, and she’s now an established star. It was an enormous relief to work with somebody who is such a constant professional. She was always on time, always ready to do her job, wanted to do all the stunts. It was really kind of humbling because I started

to feel that she was tougher than me. Uma is extremely well educated, extremely bright, extremely compassionate. She has these two amazing little cherubic, angelic little kids. They’re the kind of kids I try to talk baby talk to, ‘look you’re a little princess’. And she’s like, ‘you’re stupid, I’m not a princess, I’m a little girl’. Clearly her parents have been using 25 Cent vocabulary words with her since birth.
TeenHollywood: Have you ever accepted a job just for a paycheck?
Ben: Sure, I did construction for two years, I washed dishes. I didn’t do any of those jobs for fun. I worked at a movie theatre. I did a sewer monster picture called Phantoms. Did you see that? There was a sewer monster in it. I was the deputy sheriff. We battled, me and Peter O’Toole. I took it to fight the sewer monster and the check and to meet Peter O’Toole.

TeenHollywood: What is important to you right now?

Ben: The most important thing to me is honesty, integrity, trying to earn a living in a way that’s healthy and kind and decent to people. That’s the stuff I’m going to feel good about at the end of the day. I can’t control what the movies are doing. I can control that I was always pleasant, caring, empathetic, decent, fair. There’s family and love. What else is there?

Ben Affleck Talks About "Surviving Christmas"

Ben Affleck on Christmas Memories and Starring in a Comedy
In "Surviving Christmas," Ben Affleck stars as a rich, single guy who wants to recapture the joy of Christmas by spending the holiday at his childhood home. There's only one catch: the people living there are complete strangers.

In this interview, Ben Affleck spreads some early holiday cheer by talking about his role in "Surviving Christmas," starring in a comedy, and even shares a few Christmas memories of his own.


Is Christmas so hard that you need to survive it?
(Laughing) Some people do. Yeah, some people do. It’s family, really. This is more a movie about family. Christmas just represents that time when families get together and start kind of making each other crazy. We love our families but they’re like us and I think we kind of sometimes don’t like things about ourselves. We seem [those traits] in our family members so they make us irritated. And this really is a movie about a guy who pays for someone to pretend to be his family, and then makes them crazy just like he would his real family. It’s very funny.

This is different from most of your films in that it's a broad comedy.
It was very hard to convince people that I could do this. You know, you have people who put actors in certain categories. Like I could do a billion action movies once I did “Armageddon,” “Pearl Harbor,” blah, blah, blah. They go, “If things blow up, Ben Affleck might work.” But when you have a comedy, people think Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey, maybe I’m missing one or two guys – or nobody. So the script was there and it was very, very hard for me to get them to agree to use me. They’re like, “Oh, we like Ben. We like him to do this movie or that movie, but we don’t think that Ben Affleck says 'comedy'.” Which is one of the reasons I thought it was important for me to host “Saturday Night Live” again, right before this, to say, “Hey, I can do comedy. I can be funny.”

What's it feel like to not only star in this comedy, but also produce it?
It feels great. I’m really proud of this movie because comedies are really hard to do, but when you do them you know. It’s like you promise the audience, “Come see this movie. You’re going to laugh. You’re going to find it funny.” Delivering on that and seeing the audience laughing makes me feel really comfortable and happy. It’s not like some movie where you’re going to go, “Oh, this is going to make you cry and think about your life in a different way.” Those movies may be out there, I just don’t want to see them.

Director Mike Mitchell said you are great at being annoying.
(Laughing) That is the point of this movie. I’m this lonely, crazy, rich guy who is miserable. All his friends are bought or else they work for him. So Christmas comes and he’s totally alone. He goes to the house that he actually grew up in feeling nostalgic and he rents the family that lives there and makes them pretend to be his family. And in the process, he makes them insane. So I had a lot of practice at being annoying. Jim [Gandolfini] was very good at being annoyed by me.

What do you want for Christmas this year?
What do I want for Christmas this year? I want a little quieter life.

Have you ever experienced a Christmas like your character does?
No. I’ve been very lucky. I have a wonderful mother who raised us almost by herself. She always made sure that me and my brother had a nice time on Christmas and that we saw our grandparents. Now, Christmas gets a little crazier because once you get other people, like my brother’s wife and their in-laws and putting them together and then where are we going to go and what if they don’t get along – that’s really what this movie’s about. It’s really about family. Christmas is just a time where you end up seeing your family and your brother’s wife or your brother’s boyfriend, you know what I mean? And then you get all these different personalities forced to be in a room together, and that’s really what it’s about. It’s about family and trying to work that out. And the sort of unconventional nature of families today and what’s really important about it. And in the process hopefully you’ll laugh and think it’s funny.

Did you always get everything you wanted for Christmas?
No. When I was a kid I used to get really bummed out if I didn’t get like the right Christmas present, but I would hide it. I didn’t want to disappoint my mom so I’d be like, “It’s good. I like this present. It’s okay.” I always got that we couldn’t afford it. I remember I wanted the Millennium Falcon. I did get the Millennium Falcon.

You’ve talked about doing some more writing. When are you going to do it?
I just adapted a Dennis Lehane book. I just turned it in, which I’m really excited about. He wrote “Mystic River.” And this was called, “Gone, Baby, Gone.” And that was really fun. I had two months by myself in the office writing. It’s gotten me inspired to write something original. Maybe I’ll do that soon.
What advice do you have for college students who are trying to break into the business?
You’re wasting your money on college. I swear to God. I went to college at Occidental College and I gave them so much money. I tried to turn in 20 pages of a screenplay in my creative writing class. The woman wouldn’t take it. I stood up, walked out, never went back to that school, never gave them another dime. That script turned into “Good Will Hunting.” How do you like me now??? (laughing)

Elections are coming up and this time around it seems Hollywood is very much involved.
Hollywood has been involved. Everybody’s involved. This election, I hope you’ll see more people than you do in any election over the last 20 years. Voter turnout has been in a pretty steady decline over the last three or four decades. Even, I think, dipping below 30% of registered voters at one point. And an off-year presidential election is even lower. So my hope is that with all this attention and with all this interest, and with this really clear choice that we have, that we’ll have a lot of people voting this year.

And you’ve been actively campaigning?
I’ve been active as have many, many others. Yes, I volunteered for the Kerry campaign. He’s somebody who shares my values and my sense of what I think is best for this country and most fair for this country. But whoever you support, I think you should get out there and vote.

Does it just make you laugh to see reports you are dating one of John Kerry’s daughters?
If I meet a woman, I’ll be in the paper with her. It’s the story of my life (laughing).

Ben Affleck Pressure To Pop The Question On Valentine's Day

All eyes are on once-engaged actor Ben Affleck: Will he or will he not ask his new serious gal pal Jennifer Garner to marry him this Feb. 14?

Ben has been dating the Alias actress since last summer, and friends of his and Jennifer's families tell Star that time is running out for the commitment-shy suitor, who reportedly bought an engagement ring late last year but still hasn't presented it to his 32-year-old love.

"Waiting for the right moment is one thing; stalling for time is something else," a pal of Jen from her hometown of Charleston, W. Va., tells Star. "Ben can still save the day by proposing marriage to Jennifer on Valentine's Day. But people around here who care for her are saying he'd better not wait any longer."

A source close to Affleck says that the 32- year-old would be "a fool not to cinch the deal [with Garner] right now." The source says, "Jennifer obviously has her pick of men. Ben really loves her and she's very happy with him at her side. The family is anxiously awaiting the formal announcement."

The source adds that Ben takes his personal life very seriously and that the public will be the last to know about the engagement. "Ben's learned a lot through trial and error," says the source. "Privacy in his personal life is his top priority. If he presents Jennifer with a ring, it will be hush-hush -- that's for sure."

But another source close to the actor says that Ben needs to act fast, or he may find himself girlfriend- less again. "Jennifer's nobody's fool," says the source. Ben needs to close the deal on Valentine's Day or she might think he doesn't care and he'll lose her. We're rooting for him to make up for taking his time by popping the question that day in some crazy, romantic way she'll never forget."

Ben Affleck: Daredevil

Ben Affleck took on his first steady acting role at the age of eight. Despite his early start, years of small roles in small films followed. His big break came in the shape of Academy Award-winning "Good Will Hunting", which he co-wrote with Matt Damon. This shot Affleck into the big-time and earned him roles in "Armageddon", "Shakespeare in Love", and "Pearl Harbor". He talks here about his latest role as blind super-hero "Daredevil".

What attracted to you to the role of Daredevil?

I was always interested in the comic book. Certainly there were flashier superheroes out there who zipped around and fly into exploding suns. But for me, this character was what was so compelling. There was something more real about him than other comic book superheroes.

When I met [writer/director] Mark Johnson, I could immediately see he was interested in preserving the integrity of the comic book and character. One of the reasons I'd always liked Daredevil, and his alter ego Matt Murdock, was because they were flawed and vulnerable. He has no superhero powers besides his radar sense.

How did you prepare to play a blind man?

I wanted to learn what it was like to live with no sight. I worked with this amazing guy named Tom Sullivan. He's blind and climbs Mount Everest, which really puts your own life in perspective. I also wore these special contact lenses that made my eyes looked scarred and opaque from the radiation accident that had originally blinded Daredevil.

Why do they call Daredevil "The Man Without Fear"?

I think that has to do with the fact that he's blind and he would dive from buildings without fear because he couldn't see how far the drop was. If you don't know how scary something is, you're more likely to try it.

How is Daredevil different from other superheroes?

A lot. The vigilante element in his character puts him at the far end of these guys; not to mention his religion and belief in Catholicism. Overall, he's more human and he battles with the same things the rest of us do on an everyday basis. Also, the heart of the movie is a love story with Jennifer Garner [who plays Elektra]. That's also what made the movie different and more interesting than a lot of other comic book movies.

So is the movie targeted at both kids and adults?

That's the idea. The characters are more multi-layered than I think you typically see in more youth-oriented comic book movies. But once you reach the ages of ten or 11, I think anyone can appreciate it on the fundamental drama, adventure, and excitement level. Older audiences might appreciate it as a story about character, darkness, right and wrong, revenge, and bigger, more traditional themes.

So what's your take on a "Daredevil" sequel?

I think it's a little premature to talk about that. There's a couple of storylines that I like, but people are going to have to respond to this one first. I would decide if I wanted to do a sequel based on what the story was like.

Ben Affleck: Changing Lanes

You describe "Changing Lanes" as an "actor's movie". What do you mean by that?

I think it's an actor's movie mostly because the story essentially is character-driven. It's about what people do and how they treat one another, rather than having some larger over-reaching plot that the actors serve by picking things up in one place and putting them down in another so the story can move on. There's not a lot of histrionics. There's nothing really happening except the way these people are relating to each other. There's a cycle. I do something to hurt Sam Jackson's character at the beginning and then he hurts me back, and then we get into this cycle of exacting revenge on one another. And then it's about how that affects our lives, so it lives and dies on how the actors perform. There's a lot of good actors in this movie, it was wonderful.

What appealed to you about the two lead characters and the way the movie tells each one's story?

One of the things that I really like is that you have two types of protagonists. Both characters do things that are kind of reprehensible at times. And I think that the way it's done, it makes audiences shift allegiances back and forth between the two men throughout the movie - which is unusual, I think. This really is the kind of movie that I want to go out and promote just a little bit more wholeheartedly. I'm really proud of it.

You say you were challenged by this role. How did it stretch you as an actor?

I think every time you're asked as an actor to play something three-dimensional, to go a little deeper than your average fare, that in itself is a more difficult task than just serving a larger thing, just showing up and going, "I'm the hero" or "I'm the bad guy". You know what's going to happen so the audience kind of goes along with you.

When you challenge the audience's preconceived notions about what's supposed to happen in a movie, then the audience asks for more explanation of you as a character. They want to know what you're thinking, what's going on behind your eyes, so they can better understand what's happening. There's a lot of emotional stuff going on here, a lot of behaviour that belies the intentions of the characters. Roger Michell is a sophisticated director. He's very deft. He's a very sensitive director of actors, an extremely smart guy with a strong sense of what will resonate with an audience. He's everything you could hope for in a director.

Ben Affleck: Bounce

Was it important to give your character some redeeming qualities at the start?

I didn't want to worry too much about it. I just wanted to play it honestly, and not to worry about keeping some germ of likability. I think that would have been a betrayal, in a way, playing to the audience rather than the reality of the story. He is not a villain, he is just a guy whose focus is on the wrong things.

How far does it mirror your real-life relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow?

I think our characters' relationship in the movie shares some common traits with the real relationship we have. We were able to bring to the film an ease and comfort that we have around one another, as well as a mutual fondness and a shared sense of humour. They are people who are very different, but who have found a common ground with one another. They enjoy being in one another's company, and I think that was the case with Gwyneth and I.

Is this movie more than just a love story?

I definitely saw it as a love story. The most resonant part for me was redemption. It's important to try and make yourself a better person. Part of that process can happen in a relationship - you can be inspired by someone to change your life.




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