Ben Affleck Talks About Having to Fire Actors: “It’s the worst thing in the world because I know, as an actor, what it’s like”
Hollywood is full of hyperbole — and actors are certainly known for being dramatic — but Ben Affleck probably isn’t too far off when he says that the worst thing for him now that he’s become an acclaimed director is having to fire actors. He got through his first two films without having to fire anyone from the cast, but in an interview with Yahoo! Movies he reveals that he had to fire an actor while filming his latest film, Argo.
He knows how rough it is on actors from experience, having been an actor for years before deciding to step behind the camera. He explains, “I’ve fired a couple of actors. It’s the worst thing in the world because I know, as an actor, what it’s like. I was a child actor, and the director threatened to fire me. That traumatized me. I was 13 years old. And I went around in fear of being fired.”
But Affleck reveals that while shooting Argo he had no choice but to fire a few actors. He confesses, “[Argo] was the only time I really fired people, but I had to do it. I had all these Persian actors who were supposed to speak Farsi. And often they would audition in English and I would say, ‘You can speak Farsi, right?’ ‘Oh, yes, yes.’”
However, for one of the actors just knowing Farsi wasn’t enough. Affleck recalls, “A guy came in for a really crucial part, and on the day of shooting, we were blocking the scene, and this guy’s got this mini speech. And the guy did it, and it was just terrible. He was sort of like, you know, twisting the mustache and being the Iranian villain and having the accent and adding all these flourishes. A couple times I said, ‘Just do nothing and say your lines. Let’s try that.’”
But as much as almost being fired traumatized him as a child, he knew that firing the actor would make a better movie. He explains, “There was this guy who had a little bit in the movie, but it was so nice. And then when this other guy was blowing it — and not just blowing it, but hamming it up — it made it easy to say, ‘No, you know, you’re trying to ruin my movie.’”