Ben Affleck Interview Ė GONE BABY GONE
Posted by Frosty
Were you guys always in sync on this project or were there times you maybe disagreed?
Ben Affleck: Sure, there were times we disagreed. Youíre not doing the right thing kind of if youíre always agreeing, thatís a bad thing. The worst mistakes Iíve made creatively have been when Iíve just always agreed. Iíve just made terrible mistakes just agreeing with folks, Jesus (laughs). We made a lot of stuff a lot better just going through like what are you talking about, why you want to do that, well that doesnít make sense and almost always the scenes got better doing that. Sometimes we maybe talked ourselves in circles and thatís the nature of the creative process. Heís very smart. Heís a very smart guy and he focuses always on making the scene better and the movie better. I think heís the guy you want doing a movie with you because you know heís a really good actor and heís a really good protagonist in the sense that you know protagonists are on camera for most of the movie so he needs to be kind of interesting. Casey is really authentically thinking and living and surprising and engaged throughout while youíre photographing him and giving you a wide array of stuff to use. And also engaging you and kind of challenging you to make sure that you know what youíre doing and you have an answer for these questions while youíre making the movie.
What does it feel like being part of this Boston trilogy of Mystic River, Departed and now youÖand what did you learn from Kevin Smith as a director?
Ben Affleck: I mean to be in a Boston trilogy itís kind of like thatís Everest, Kilimanjaro and you (laughs). Obviously, those are towering giants. Iím just happy to get my movie made, man, you know, those guys are legendary filmmakers and this movie is just a little movie that Iím glad to get out there and hope that people go see and I hope that people like. I will be pleased that if in 40 years that I get some portion of those guysí great successÖsome fraction of that would be wonderful. For now, Iím just trying to just cobble together a little directing career. Part two involves a different kind of answer. No, what Iíve learned from Kevin Smith isÖin a way this movie has a very simple actor focused feel to it and itís similar in some ways to a Kevin movie. Kevinís got a little bit more verbally rigorous like writing focus. He doesnít permit any deviation of the word whereas this is like itís OK to change a syllable or two. One of the things I learned from Kevin is that he really pays attention to language and this is definitely something I took away from him, the rhythm of language and how actors sound and thatís something I really came to appreciate working with him. I think thatís something thatís really important, like not just what they say, but the cadence of how they say it and also make stories that oftentimes are being told in the interestÖjust holding your interest. Kevinís kind of relying a lot of times, the raw power of the writing and the importance of the writing and thatís always been the centerpiece of his movies. Itís a reminder that thatís the underpinning of movies and I think thatís a really good thing to learn and remember.
Working with Kevin, did you know that you already wanted to direct. What triggered you?
Ben Affleck: Working with Kevin, I mean when I first worked with him in I think í93 in Mallrats, and I didnít know anything in í93. I was very new and just trying to figure things out. But over the course of working with him, I just became really good friends with him and picked up a lot from him and from the other people we worked with and just tried to study and learn from him as I have from all the directors Iíve worked with and over the course of that time developed an increasing interest in trying to direct.
What do you think about the difficult moral choice that Caseyís character has to make at the end of the film?
Ben Affleck: Obviously itís the choice thatís presented in the book, but in terms of trying to convey it in the movie, I tried to present it as provocatively as I could in the sense that I wanted it to feel really difficult. I think itís a tough choice and underneath it, thereís this sort of pull between these sort of classic things in our society whether weíre willing to forgive people or judge them, whether we think itís OK for us to make decision for other peopleÖif the right thing was easy, everybody would do it. The idea that Casey really believes that once heís Ė I donít want to give this whole thing away so Iím trying to figure out what to say that wonít give it away Ė but you know the movie Rules of the Game? I stole a line from it where at the end of the movie she says ďeveryone has their reasonsĒ and itís like his accusation really is that everybody is kind of rationalizing their actions based on their own self interests. In other words, youíre all sort of claiming this moral high ground but really itís just based on what you all want to doÖyou just want to have this girl and heís the one doing the difficult thing and sometimes the thing that doesnít seem pleasant or totally right or totally comfortable but itís right. And if itís the right thing based on the rules that we have set down, the reason the rules are there is that theyíre there to protect us from our own subjective prejudices and those are the things we have to follow. And itís really difficult to make those choices. But we have to make them. Thatís a strong argument and yet when youíre sitting there, at the end of the movie with the choice that heís made, itís profoundly ugly and disturbing. So the idea was to try and set both those things up as strongly as I could and build both arguments as strongly as possible so that they would be at loggerheads with one another because I thought it was a coming of age movie, not like American Pie like losing your virginity kind of movieÖthat coming of age kind of movie. Iím not disparaging American Pie but that level of age of teen or early 20s. Real coming of age meaning like you become an adult is like 30 I think because itís around the time you discover that the decisions you make in life have lasting, real consequences and that you never really know if youíre right or wrong. That there is no answer, there is no end of the book to turn to tell you Oh, actually I made a mistake there. And oftentimes those decisions have real consequences, not only for yourself but for other people. At the end of the day all you can do is live with them and try to be at peace with them.
I just wanted to ask you if had any Project Greenlight like moment in there where it was one of those things in terms of first time director. Obviously youíve been exposed more than people that were there, but just kind of like having a momentÖ
Ben Affleck: They did tell me that I was running out of film at one point (laughs). I was shooting too much film and I was running out of film. I was like Whereís the film store? Is there a place that is selling film. They were like the film store is in New York City. I was like well, someone go to the film storeÖwe got into like whereís the film store discussion. But actually in truth they were just kind of manipulating me.