Ben Affleck: “If anybody really wants to be an actor, a great advanced class would be to direct some stuff”
Remember when most people thought of Ben Affleck as the less-talented half of the Good Will Hunting duo? Turns out that while Affleck wasn’t always the greatest actor — at the very least his bad moments, like Pearl Harbor, Gigli, and Surviving Christmas were really bad — he’s a great director, with his first two films getting rave reviews and his soon-to-be-released third, Argo, already getting award buzz.
Though Affleck’s first firm as a director was 2007’s Gone Baby Gone, his next film he directed, The Town, was the first he also starred in. He was a bit unsure about how he’d juggle both, so he looked for advice. When he asked other Hollywood stars who directed themselves in films — Kevin Costner, Warren Beatty, and Robert Redford — he says they all told him the same thing: “The one thing they all said to me, in one form or another, was: Make sure you get enough coverage of yourself. They said the natural tendency is to go do a scene, and there’s three of us, and I do 10 takes on actor A and 12 takes on actor B and now we’re probably in a rush, so the polite thing to do is bang out one take on yourself and move on. Because you don’t want to look like a prima donna.” Though Affleck followed their instruction, he did end up feeling like the cast and crew was turning on him. He reveals, “And on the first day, on Take 10 of me, I could just feel the crew’s eyes rolling. I started telling anybody who would listen that story. I was told to get a lot of coverage.”
But Affleck, who appears in his third film he’s directed, Argo, believes that becoming a director has helped him become a better actor. He says, “If anybody really wants to be an actor, a great advanced class would be to direct some stuff. Because you get some perspective.”
Though he continues to act in films by other directors — including a near-silent role in Terrence Malick‘s To The Wonder — Affleck realizes that regardless of whether he’s in front of the camera, behind it, or both, he has to invest his time wisely. He points out, “It’s a zero-sum game. You have from now until the end. And if you take a year to do one thing, it’s a year you no longer have to do something else.”
Of course, Affleck considers raising his kids his greatest responsibility. He says, “This business can be ugly, and I used to think the biggest challenge was keeping sane. But the biggest challenge for me now is figuring out how to raise my kids in this environment.”