Ben Affleck talks about his next directing project THE TOWN (Prince of Thieves)

     March 28, 2009

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

Just a few hours ago I participated in an intimate roundtable interview with Ben Affleck for his new film “State of Play”. While I’ll be posting a full transcript closer to the release date, Ben told us a few interesting things that I know you’d like to hear now.

The big thing Ben revealed is he’s been talking to Matt Damon about doing a project together (their first since “Good Will Hunting”). He says the goal was to do the film this year, but with Matt working so much and Ben about to direct his next movie, it’s going to be next year before they can do it.

He said the script is mostly written and he might direct it. He said if he doesn’t direct it they’ll find someone together. Ben wouldn’t reveal what it’s about due to ‘lame political money reasons’.

On the subject of his next directing gig, he said the title right now is “The Town” and it’s based on the book “Prince of Thieves” by Chuck Hogan. He said it’s about a group of thieves in the suburbs of Boston and it’s an extremely realistic look at their lives. I’ve heard the movie starts to shoot later this year in Boston.

Ben also talked about Mike Judge’s next film “Extract”. He talked about who he plays in the film and what it was like to work with Jason Bateman.

Finally, as a fellow New Englander, I brought up what it would take to get a Dunkin Donut’s here in Los Angeles.

And with that….here’s what Ben had to say. If you’d like to hear the audio of the interview click here. Just know it’s the full interview and not just these selected quotes.

Question: You had a very successful directorial debut. I heard you might be getting behind the director’s chair again in Boston?

Affleck: Yeah, I’m directing another movie and I’m going to act in the movie as well. That’s a slightly daunting prospect, but we’ll see. I’m nervous but excited. It’s called The Town – that’s the title I’m using now but I’m not sure it’ll be that – and it’s based on a book called ‘Prince of Thieves’ by Chuck Hogan. It’s based on a true fact that there is this neighborhood in Boston called Charlestown where there are more armed robbers per capita than anywhere else in the world. It’s about this group of guys who rob a bank and an armored car. Rather than a heist movie it’s very realistic. You see how the guys really operate and what they really do. It’s about their lives, the connection to one another, and the way that where they live is changing. It’s unusual and kind of complicated for a movie that has a conventional genre at its root.

Will you be keeping the Fenway Park climax?

Affleck: I hope so. We are in discussion with Fenway Park right now. We have to get their permission. If they say ‘No.’ I don’t really know what we’ll do. We’ll have to come up with a new climax. Is it going to be Gillette stadium? I don’t know.

Did you adapt this yourself?

Affleck: There was an adaptation already. There was an adaptation that I fooled around with, but it was strong. The author adapted it and it was really good. I’m lucky that it was there. ‘Gone Baby Gone’ there was no previous writer. This somebody already did all the hard work and all the really good work. I’m kind of coasting on that.

When you hear talk about a possible ‘DareDevil’ reboot do you feel like ‘What’s wrong with mine?’

Affleck: No, I don’t ask that question. [the room laughs] Honestly, I’ll get myself in trouble, so lets just not.

As a fellow New Englander, what would you do to get Dunkin’ Donuts out here?

Affleck: I heard that some people were pitching in to buy a franchise. Then that fizzled. I would do that. My only fear is that L.A. people would … One Dunkin’ Donuts donut is 20,000 calories. I love the coffee more than anything.

You can get the coffee at Ralphs.

Affleck: But you can’t get the full…

John Krasinski from ‘The Office’ said he talked to you about it and said there may be a charity one on Sunset. He’s trying to put it together.

Affleck: I would do whatever it took. I told John that so I think he’s aware of that. That was who I had this conversation with in fact. He said a couple of other guys from New England would do it. He was more gung ho than I was. He was fired up. I love it. I really do love Dunkin’ Donuts. Not to go into a full pitch commercial. I should be getting the Johnny Damon money. Remember those ads?

You worked with Mike Judge on ‘Extract’. I love his two previous films. Could you talk about your character and working with him?

Affleck: I love Mike. Jason Bateman, is the lead of the movie. He is spectacular in the movie. If you are a Bateman fan, he is on fire in this movie. This is the third time I’ve worked with Bateman. My wife has down three bids in Bateman. We’re a six-time Bateman household. We’re fans. Mike has a very particular sensibility so it’s not just straight down the middle. That’s one of the things I like about it. I think it’s really funny. I haven’t seen the whole thing, just bits and pieces of it. Jason is great. I’m playing a guy who is kind of the worst friend in the world. I’m Jason’s friend, but it turns out I’m really into drugs, I like to give him drugs. I keep trying to get him high. He tells me he’s got this wife, but he’s attracted to this other woman, but he’s married so he’s conflicted about it. Meanwhile I give him some Xanax. I’m telling him ‘What you should do is hire a gigolo to hit on your wife. Then if she says yes, you won’t feel guilty.’ He’s high and thinks it kind of makes sense. She immediately fucks the gigolo. That’s at the very beginning.

What does that have to do with vanilla extract?

Affleck: He owns a vanilla extract plant, basically. It’s very, very funny. Mike is great, a really gifted and smart guy. Jason is terrific. I was just really happy to be in the movie.

The thing about Mike’s films is that he’s been screwed over by the studio twice. Is this going to be the one that people can actually see?

Affleck: I don’t know. It’s Miramax. It’s incumbent on them I think, because I think it could be a commercial movie if it were released properly. I know them, I think they are smart people, so I have no reason to expect that they will screw him. I’m optimistic, but I’ll let Mike speak for himself in that regard.

Does the timing feel right for you and Matt Damon to find a project to work on together?

Affleck: Yeah, we were going to do something together the end of this year. Then I took the other thing to direct, so that pushed it off till next year. Supposedly we’re doing this thing next year. I think we will. Matt is always pretty busy but claiming that he’s going to try and slow it down a little bit. He’s going to do the Bourne movie and this really cool Mandela movie he’s doing now. He’s doing the movie that George Nolfi is directing in between. He doesn’t mind taking a year to wait. I would love to, it’s great, and we’re both busy. Matt lives in Miami so it’s hard to get a chance to see him. If we work together it’s an excuse to hang out.

Celts, back to back?

Affleck: I don’t want to jinx anything. I hope so. It’s great to have basketball be exciting in Boston. It’s a good thing to have some winners. We’re all right, Boston sports.

Question: Have you and Matt worked out what you’re going to do?

Affleck: We have a project but we haven’t said what it is just because of lame political money reasons. This is the movie we’re going to do together and I think it will be good.

Question: Did you write it together?

Affleck: No, the script is actually mostly already written. We wouldn’t write it together.

Question: Would you direct it?

Affleck: It’s possible I would direct it or else we’d both be in it and find a director.

Question: Should we expect to see anymore YouTube antics from you?

Affleck: I hope so. If I find something as funny as that, if Jimmy Kimmel writes me something as funny as that in the future. That was really great. I like Jimmy a lot, he’s a great guy. That experience was a lot of fun. It was one of those things where I thought ‘Will the Internet still be around when my kids are teenagers?’

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