In this segment Affleck talks about his co-stars and his personal relationship with Jennifer Lopez.
The following interview contains spoilers and adult language.
Ben Affleck: Jennifer Garner…it’s probably hard for you guys, because you sit there and you see all these actors and people always come up and say they’re great and so on and so forth, and they’re always actors who, I’m sure you guys know, when you see them sit down you think, “This person’s an ass-hole. Clearly this is a charade.”
But with Jennifer Garner it really is one of those kinds of things where, she’s so up-with-people that you keep thinking, “There has to be some dark side, some twisted, deep underbelly of something under here.” As far as I can tell from the months we spent together, there really isn’t.
She was professional, really patient. I think if she has a flaw it’s that sometimes she’s too patient. Too indulgent. Puts out too much when she should really be saying, “Wait a minute. This is not exactly my job or this should be being done better.”
She really is that nice. I think it’s her upbringing, being this girl from West Virginia. Very well-mannered. Very smart.
One of the great things about Jennifer Garner is that she really doesn’t know how beautiful she is. There are a lot of women who, not only are aware of that, but, particularly in this business, are sort of subconsciously instructed to use their physical attributes to trade on their sexuality. Trade on their beauty. That that’s what’s valuable about them. That’s what’s interesting about them. Put it out there. Keep it up. Do plastic surgery. Go through this whole thing.
It really isn’t about that for her. I don’t think that she thinks she’s as drop-dead gorgeous as she is. I think that is what gives her this incredibly appealing quality. She’s more than the girl next door because she is so va-va-voom, but also she’s not threatening. She doesn’t seem like…I think women look at her and they don’t say, “I think she’s going to try to seduce my husband. She’s somebody that I could trust. She’s like a girlfriend that I could get along with.”
As far as working with her, she was better at the action stuff than I was. Flat-out, no questions about it, just better at it. It was humbling for me. Something that I had to address in my own life.
Q: And what about Jennifer Lopez. Does she know she’s beautiful?
What she kind of trades on, and counts on is this incredible work ethic. It’s all hustle. Nobody ever gave Jennifer Lopez anything. Nobody ever said, “Hey kid, you’re going to be a star. This world’s cut out for Latino women with a different shape than, like, Kate Moss. The whole world’s your oyster.”
So she always knew, “Well, if it’s gonna happen it’s gonna be all on me.”
She’s very self-reliant and very determined and very focused. A lot of times it’s confused with naked ambition and other unpleasant character attributes which, I have to tell you, are not true.
Q: How was working with Jon Favreau in the movie?
BA: Favsy just flat-out killed it. He just killed in this movie.
I’m very much in the school of…I find myself with directors just saying, “Cut it down. Cut it down. Cut it down.” Pace is really critical.
Jon Favreau’s stuff is the one thing I still wish there was more of. I watch that guy sit there and punch holes in this character and tell jokes for hours. Maybe my tolerance is a little bit higher than everybody else’s, but I thought his stuff was brilliant.
It was just fun acting with him. I’m a huge fan of his. I love “Swingers.” I love his sense of humor. He really got it. He understood that the brooding, hero guy, whose got the weight of the world on his shoulders, is so ripe for having his balloon popped by this, sort of, counterweight to him.
My favorite moment in the movie is when he tells me that the office looks like the set of “Sanford and Son” and he’s waiting for Lamont to come in. That’s just genius. That was Jon’s.
There’s so much other stuff in there, that didn’t make the movie, that hopefully we’ll see it on DVD of him being like [doing Favreau voice], “Where do you go at night? You come home. You have bruises. You have an alternate lifestyle? You can tell me about it.”
Great stuff that he did.
[Favreau Voice] “What is it? Fight Club? First rule: don’t talk about Fight Club.”
He had these great jokes. I think it kind ended up making it feel like the movie stopped for the Jon Favreau stand-up act, but the Jon Favreau stand-up act is good.
Q: How was the filming in Chicago and what’s it like to be the Sexiest Man Alive?
BA: Chicago, I found to be like colder than I ever want to be in my life. I grew up in Boston and still it was like nothing I even remembered in Boston. It was like an unremitting kind of savagery where I honestly felt nauseous from cold. I’d never felt that before.
I just thought to myself, it still amazes me that people who landed on Plymouth Rock kind of stopped and weren’t like, “It has to be warmer somewhere further down the road.”
The same can be said for Chicago. Those cities, New York, where I live, Chicago, Boston, when it gets like that, there’s just no excuse for not staying in the house all day long. That would make me want to take, like one of those advertisements from the subway: “Work from home on the Internet! $9.99.” It seems like that’s the job to have in one of those cities.
The Sexiest Man Alive thing: I can only tell you that People Magazine called my mother, somehow, first or whatever and she was like [Mother voice], “The People Magazine called me and said that you’re the sexiest man alive.”
I was like, “Mom, that might be a prank or something.”
She was like [Mom voice], “No. It’s not and I just want to tell you I think it’s ridiculous!”
“I’m sure there’ll be people who share your opinion, Mom.”
[Mom voice], “Don’t get a big head.”
“OK. I’ll try not to,” so, that’s my story about the Sexiest Man Alive.
Q: What would be your dream job?
BA: I think the coolest job to have, and I may be just influenced by watching “The West Wing,” but I think that being a speech writer is pretty a cool job. I think it’s fun. It’s great. You get to try stuff. It’s all so substantive. You write a monologue or you write for a television show or something, it gets a laugh or it moves people, but it doesn’t move the engine of the world and government and all that.
I think that would be a pretty cool thing.
Q: Could you write anecdotes for President Bartlett?
BA: I’m not so good with folksy, down-home anecdotes. It’s not my thing. They’d have to get a different guy. I mean I could, I just don’t think he’d ever deliver any of them.
But I think that would be a fun job to have.
I also think that Rob Lowe should stay on “The West Wing.”
Q: You joke about the over-exposure your relationship with Jennifer Lopez has gotten, yet you appeared in the “Jenny From The Block” music video which played on that. If you find the attention intrusive, why make that video?
BA: I’ll tell you why, with so many astute, sharp people in the press that so many people missed the point of that, which was to sort of satirize the very thing that was happening.
We were in the midst of this manic, crazy, paparazzi coming out of the bushes, photographs coming from the most mundane, bizarrely every-day activities. They would be, not only published, but they’d be bid on.
I thought to myself, here’s a really good example to hold up this particular pop-culture phenomena to the light and ask, “What is this thing that we kind of collectively engage in? This group voyeurism. The act of paparazzism that takes the very mundane and through the grainy prism of a long lens casts this other light on it to make it look more glamorous and more sexy. Why does it fascinate people?”
The idea of that video was to sort of make people uncomfortable. To have this degree of voyeurism taking place that the audience watching the video would say, “This is sort of invasive. Why am I watching this? Why am I seeing these two people do this?” and then kind of ask the question of themselves, “What is this process that we all do,” and by doing so, satirize it.
As luck would have it…when we were shooting it the actual paparazzi showed up themselves, en masse to photograph the satirization of the paparazzi. Then [we said to director] Francis Lawrence, “You’ve gotta shoot these guys. You gotta put them in the video.”
So he turned the camera on them, filmed them. We had to blur their faces out but they’re in the actual video. It sort of was dizzying. You know when you have a video camera and you hook it up to the TV and you face the video camera at the TV and you get these like infinite boxes. It sort of reminded me of that.
That was the point. And still, some people recognized it as that and some people said, “Oh, this is just further exploitation of your personal life.”
I understand why. I think it’s because people in the press get tired of being bitched at by celebrities who they kind of have to cover and don’t really want to cover all that much anyway, but their editors say, “People want to see it.”
So you kind of have to go out there and say, “So, tell me about having your warts burned off,” or something. It’s sort of depressing and furthermore you have to fight this uphill battle of the celebrities themselves who go, “Don’t intrude on my private life, but promote my movie,” which is kind of a contradiction in terms these days.
So I think we got a little bit of the press throwing up their hands and going, “Well, what are we supposed to do? You must be liking this. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
That was the point of it. I don’t know. That’s my answer.
Q: Are you worried about the effect over-exposure might have on your career?
BA: I feel mostly like an acute sense of dread…or not dread, but a self-consciousness like people are gonna grow weary of this. I’m not out there saying, “Hey! Look at this! I go shoppin’! I’m just a regular guy! I buy pizzas with my girl!”
People do sort of vie to take your picture and I wish it wasn’t out there so much because I have a sense of, eventually, there’s a limit to it, after which it becomes nauseating. But I can’t really control that and the big concern for me as an actor, because I’ve long since given up protesting the process itself. It was one that I was aware of before I’d ever been in a movie…is that it kind of gets in the way of people being able to watch your movies. If all they see, they’re inundated with these other images of you as a real person, it becomes harder to suspend disbelief and see the person as the character in the movie. Or, where it might take five minutes with somebody else, it takes you fifteen with an actor where you’re just like, “Enough al-fucking-ready with him.”
So that’s how I feel.
Q: Yet, we’re spending a lot of time talking about right now.
BA: It’s a tricky thing isn’t it? You sit down and you want to talk about the movie and this or that, but then all that people ever ask you about (here we are, case in point) is your personal life.
Honestly, if you’re a people pleaser or you feel like being polite or even courteous you want to respond to those questions and hope that the guy in the Superman shirt’s going to get back to talking about “Daredevil.”
Q: You do a lot of impersonations of the people around you. What’s your best imitation?
BA: The best imitation was Colin. The bigger the personality the easier they are to imitate, so I worked on my Colin Farrell. It won’t be quotable at all.
[Colin Farrell voice], “Oh, fuckin’ great. Ah. What’re we doing? What scene is this? A’right, you fuckin’ come down and I fight ya and, Oh, did I tell ya about these fuckin’ girls last night? Oh, Jesus Christ! Twins, mate! Twins! How about that fuckin’ Mike Duncan? Eight feet tall! Imagine the size of the prick on that fuckin’ guy! He’s gonna pass out! All da’ blood comes out of his head! Anyway, what’re we doin’? Have a pint. Oh, ya’ don’t drink! I’m sorry, mate. I forgot. I keep forgettin’. No, we’ll have a lemonade. I don’t mind. I swear to God! I don’t mind. I got a keg in my trailer!”
No. That’s a caricature actually.
The truth should be said about Colin, interestingly enough is that, in a way he’s actually not crazy or out there. He’s actually just really friendly and sweet. He has nothing but love. He’s really open to everything.
He’s really not that actor guy who’s putting on this demeanor of, “No. I’m remote and distant and unknowable to you,” as a mask for their own, “I don’t know who I am or what I’m doing.” He really is accessible and sweet and kind. For all these rumors of carousing and going crazy, he shows up at work every day. He worked really hard. Never been anything but a prince.
I got to really love Colin Farrell. If I could do my bachelorhood all over again, I would do it the way Colin Farrell!
Q: What well-known journalist would you study for a role?
BA: There are so many different kinds of journalists. You could be…there’s William Sapphire, there’s Christopher Hitchens. It runs the gamut. There’s like your television kind of hardball, whats-his-name, kind of journalist, who are like the thinly-veiled, partisan politic journalism. Then there’s like hard journalism.
There’s entertainment journalism which is really interesting because that also runs the gamut from like, Andrew Johnson Page Six, which would probably make a great movie, you know what I mean? Like rummaging through garbage and paying for sources. If it wasn’t about me I’d really be interested in it. As opposed to kind of straight, hard-core news. I’m not sure. I’m sure there’re some people in this room that would be interesting to sit down and talk to.
It would really depend on what kind of movie are you doing. Are you doing like “Salvador,” the Oliver Stone thing, or are you doing like “America’s Sweethearts,” or whatever, where you’re doing junket journalism?
So I’d have to choose from among subsets and categories. I don’t want to pick favorites among you because I know you get very catty and bicker.
Q: Why did “Gigli” go through such intensive reshoots?
BA: The “Gigli” reshoots are a simple result of the fact that I died at the end of the movie and we all kind of sat around and said, “This will never fly. You can’t have your protagonist die.”
Lo and behold the movie played great. Everybody loved it and there was this great uproar of like, “Whoa! We hate that he dies in the end.”
It’s almost too trite a story to tell. Because it was a filmmaker of the caliber of Marty Brest it wasn’t like if we just cut it down we’d have some thing. It took six or eight months to work on, “Well, OK. I’m not going to die but how do we maintain the integrity of the story, still make it interesting and kind of change that dynamic and not betray the essence of the movie.”
We came up with, I think, a really good solution. I’m really excited about it. It’s a really good movie actually.
Q: What has you convinced it’s a good movie?
BA: It’s test audiences. I don’t know why. You have to ask the test audiences in Canoga Park.
Q: You’re working on so many movies and you’ve got this high-profile personal relationship. How do you make it all fit?
BA: I try to have a good time when I’m not working, like the little stop-over with the Super Bowl in Vegas. Make time for your relationships. You know, there’s nothing so wrong with being busy. Most people work so hard. It’s only actors you see taking four months off.