Ben Affleck, 42, stars as the iconic Batman in the upcoming movie, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and he clearly has been working hard in the gym, completely cut and looking great, when we had a chance to sit down with him and discuss the upcoming film and the success of his mystery thriller, Gone Girl, based on the best-selling book of the same name by Gillian Flynn.
Affleck stars opposite Rosamund Pike, who plays his very complicated wife in this thrill-ride of a film. Affleck is an acclaimed actor, writer, director and activist, and has garnered some of the best reviews of his career for his role in Gone Girl, and is expected to be called upon, to make numerous acceptance speeches again during the upcoming award season.
In real life, he’s been married to wife, Jennifer Garner, since 2005, and together they are raising their three beloved children: Violet, born December 2005, Seraphina, born January 2009, and Samuel, born February 2012. They live between a ranch-style home in Los Angeles, an apartment in Manhattan, and a holiday home on the secluded Hampton Island near Savannah, Georgia, on an 83-acre estate. He was in previous relationships with Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow before settling down with Jennifer Garner.
STRIPLV: Let’s start off with some questions about your film, Gone Girl. What does this movie say about marriage? Is it a cautionary tale?
AFFLECK: I think this movie says really provocative things about marriage. If you look at them together, it says that marriage is fraudulent in some ways, and it’s based on lies in some ways. And I think in this story a real marriage means you have to go through this crucible of hurting each other and loving each other and hating each other and lying to each other and telling each other the truth. And then after you’ve done everything possible to each other, you can truly be married. Now, I don’t believe that, but that’s some of the more provocative things that the movie says.
STRIPLV: Your character deals with sudden fame and notoriety. You know something about that yourself, other than the fact you haven’t been accused of murder. But did you relate to that?
AFFLECK: No, I’ve never been accused of murder, which is about the only thing (laughs) but yeah, notoriety, as you say, and it is the American version of fame. You have people going out and committing crimes just so they can be famous and hoping that happens, because we treat criminals like celebrities, and because we cover them so much in the media and we focus on them so much, and in America everyone can reel off everyone from OJ Simpson to Amanda Knox to Scott Peterson, and the whole gamut in between. They’re famous killers and the way we obsess over them is interesting. And it goes back to John Dillinger and Al Capone. I don’t know why we want to make people like Jesse James a hero, people that murdered other people, but it is what we focus on. I don’t know. We watch these things on TV and I can identify with the tabloid media fame part of it, but I think it’s a whole other thing when you get into this cable killer twenty-four hour news cycle.
STRIPLV: Your wife in the movie is a very complicated woman. Have you met anyone like that in your life?
AFFLECK: No, not really. I think it’s put together from different pieces, but I’ve been really lucky in my personal relationships. I look back and think the major relationships I’ve had were all with really good people, who I like quite a bit still to this day. So I’ve ducked that landmine of romantic encounter in this way, but the movie paints with this big brush a story of murder and so on, but at the end of the day, this movie does talk about how we as men and women see things differently. We have different expectations and we act like different people when we’re getting to know people than who we really are, and you eventually find out who the real person is.
STRIPLV: You’re currently working on the epic Batman v Superman film. That must be a childhood dream for any guy!
AFFLECK: Yeah. It’s definitely a dream. I’m excited to do it and it’s a real challenge. The thing I’m most excited about is the script and the director.
STRIPLV: How have you dealt with the teasing, that no one escapes from when they put on the Batman suit?
AFFLECK: Yeah, again, it’s this thing where these huge projects like Star Wars or Batman or even 50 Shades of Grey, anything where fans have really intense feelings about it and they want to vent them and get them out there, and that’s part of the give and take. And they’re entitled to voice their opinions. I’ve never done a movie where I’ve had more people come up to me. In fact, with all the movies combined, I’ve never had more people come up to me with more enthusiasm, so it’s a movie that gets a lot of attention. But the truth is, it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s how you make the movie and that’s what I’ve discovered about anything I’ve done is that if you do the movie well, people will like it. And if you don’t, people will appropriately let you know.
STRIPLV: In Gone Girl, how did you find your way to being an authentic couple?
AFFLECK: Well, Rose is so good that it was easy to play opposite her. It’s not that difficult and what was really interesting was that the book asked really hard questions about marriage and relationships and it didn’t sort of want to gloss over the things that we don’t like to look at – whether it be at others or ourselves – and sometimes you find out ugly things when you ask hard questions and that’s why they were hard. And so Rose definitely had the courage to go toward that and we wanted to sort of give truth to a really dark look at marriage and David’s (Fincher) subversive take on that dark look at marriage. (laughs)
STRIPLV: As a director, what did you discover through working with David Fincher? And also for playing Nick, did you see him going from a transition from being kind of a stupid guy at the start to somebody who wises up at the end?
AFFLECK: Well for the first part of the question, I definitely kind of at this point in my career as an actor decided that it’s all about the director really. So when David called me, I thought, ‘I would have done the phone book with David,’ so you could imagine my relief when I read Gone Girl, that it wasn’t an alphabetical list of names, (laughter), but to get a chance to work with a guy you admire a great deal. Before all my movies that I directed, I watched Seven, and I feel like it’s the most perfectly meticulously Swiss Watch made thing, and I thought, ‘What kind of person makes a movie like this?’ And it was great to work with David and l learned a great deal from him. It was a pleasure to be around him and it was a true learning experience and I loved it and I would do it again and again and again a million times. It was a joy! And David is also, in spite of his reputation, a very funny and nice guy, not just a demon. (laughter) Smart and sweet. And as far as Nick being a dick or a jerk or whatever and becoming smarter later, it’s interesting. I have seen different reactions to the Nick character and I think that it’s complicated. He does change, but a lot of it has to do with the audience perception of him changing as they learn more about him. I don’t think you can play anybody that you think is a dick, because then you are not going to do a very good job. So my job was to empathize with him, and really what I found is that women and men have a very different reaction to this character. Like, most of the women journalists go like: “What was it like playing a dick? (Laughs)
STRIPLV: Was there one particular benefit that will stay with you about working with David Fincher?
AFFLECK: For me, there were two benefits: one as a performer – and I was really learning a lot as a director and sort of standing next to David and watching what he did and why he did it and being really interested in learning why he did it, because I truly do, without jerking him off, I think he’s one of the greats working today. And what’s interesting is that there’s this bifurcation with directors, they are sort of like technical, shooter, music video commercial guy and girl directors who sort of come from that world and speak that vocabulary and have that expertise and the other side of that line: your performance directors, your writer/directors, your actor/directors, and they tend to be too camped. And David is the only guy that who straddles both camps. He is genuinely an actor’s director. And he’s got one of the deepest and proficient understandings of the technical aspect of filmmaking of anyone I have ever worked with. So, he’s got this engineer’s mind and yet this taste of an artist. And I didn’t think there was that filmmaker out there, so I was really impressed by that duality. And that’s the last time I say anything nice about David. (Laughter)