<%-- Page Title--%> Cinema <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 138 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 16, 2004

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A Hearthrob with Heart and Brains

Ben Affleck was born in Berkeley California on the 15th of August, 1972. The 6'2.5" heartthrob had first wet his feet in acting at the age of eight, in the PBS mini-series The Voyage of Mimi. He continued getting acclamation in feature films such as Dazed and Confused (1993) and independent films such as Mallrats (1995). His big break came, however, when good friend Matt Damon and him co-wrote and co-directed Good Will Hunting, which came out in 1997. Since then Ben never looked back. On December 4th, Ben Affleck talked to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) about a number of things, including upcoming movie Paycheck.

Have you ever done anything strictly for a Paycheck?
I mean, I guess I did appear on an episode of a television show, which I probably wouldn't have done had it not been for the $1900 I was getting paid. It wasn't that rewarding an experience and I've been lucky enough not to have to that again.

Your relationship to technology, can you talk about that?
My relationship. I love it I've been dealing with computers since they were out. I love working with them and pulling them apart and putting in video cards or sound cards or disk drives or what have you, so that part was easy for me to do without having to research and I felt very comfortable. It's scary in a way. Technology will probably be the death of us all but I like it.

Looking back over this year, can you talk about what you might have learned and how you might do things differently and whether you want to be a Greta Garbo and stay away from the press?
This year has been interesting. Daredevil came out and that went really, really well and then Gigli come out and that was a spectacular bomb worthwhile to be a part of. Professionally speaking, on balance, I feel like two out of three is a pretty good average so I'm pleased with it in that regard. There has been a lot of tabloid and press attention on my relationship with Jennifer and it's not really something I control. Maybe perhaps we made the mistake of being too available in a certain way early on in the relationship and I don't think I realised what a giant bonfire of a story it would become. I suppose I would have done it differently if I knew then what I know now.

Can you talk about your relationship with Matt Danon and what its like working with him?
We spend a lot of time as friends and in acting class and writing together and a lot of things. I'm very lucky that I have a friend who does the same job I do and we're more or less at the same spot and so we can compare notes and that sort of thing and he's somebody who has no agenda other than my well-being and I am the same for him, I'm very lucky to have that kind of friendship. Matt's extremely bright and very, very smart about movies. He's the smartest person about making movies and making them good -- that I know.

When are you going to start producing and directing?
I would like to start also because it would hopefully diminish some of the other attention on the frivolous parts of my life that is frankly, unwelcome and a drag so ideally I would like to delve into directing if I can and then, I would probably continue to act but more character parts, stuff I did like in Boiler room or Shakespeare in love or Dogma, small parts.

What are some of the memories that you would like to keep forever?
I think most of the best memories have to be the times I've spent with my family and some really great friends that I have and yes there's moments like, Golden Globe Awards in '97 which I'll cherish. But, you know, non-career related stuff is really more close to my heart. They're all just the little things. Some of that includes mistakes I've made and bad things that have happened to me. I think all those things help build character and give you something to learn from and I think it's healthy, I want to keep them all. I don't want to have to give any of them.

You canceled the wedding. Are you still together?
We postponed the wedding. We're still together.

Do you aspire to be the kind of debonair name star like Cary Grant?

One of the qualities I admire is a certain sense of integrity that gets conveyed in a performance and Cary Grant had it as well as other actors like Peter Dinklage and Denzel Washington; something I think I see when I look at my brother's acting and Matt Damon's acting -- it's present in a lot of people. Benicio Del Toro. Part of it sometimes is a look but mostly I think it radiates from a strong sense of your reality and your personal integrity, which I think sort of comes through.

Who are those people you admire?
Well, that's those are people I named like Matt, my brother, Benicio Del Toro, Denzel Washington, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, you know, Rod Steiger, Larry Storch from F Troop.

Are you in the Habit of Making new year's resolutions?
I am in the habit of making New Year's Resolutions. I've tried to quit smoking the last three New Years. Obviously, the answer is no, I don't keep them so I am not going to make any New Year's Resolutions this year because I think it's bad luck. Whatever you resolve to do in New Year's will inevitably not happen the following year.

What do I hope for myself in the New Year? A little more peace perhaps. And I hope that my life continues to be interesting.

Is there a character in particular that you would love to play like Indian Jones who can come back several times or a historical figure a character that you are passionate about?
Thoreau would be an interesting character to play. I'd like to play Martin Luther King but I don't think anyone would hire me. Gandhi, but that's also been done -- I could shave my head. One of the things I that appeals to me is sort of America of the '30s and '40s and anywhere else but particularly America that was just on the cusp of modernity, of becoming a sort of unified place and it was before the country became so homogenous. JFK would be interesting but it's been done a hundred thousand times. In like twenty years or so I could get cast as the George Bush role I can do a good George Bush. Clinton would be a good one to play. That's something that hasn't been done.

Which are your favourite J'LO Albums?
Probably "This is Me Then" is my favorite album and I like J'LO a lot. There's great remix that's coming out this Christmas, in fact, of "Baby I Love You" with R. Kelly that's really very good. Pick it up. You'll enjoy it.

Your co-star in Paycheck Uma Thurman speaks highly of you that you are the absolute catch, a spiritual person. Do you have a good clear vision on who you are?
I think I am pretty comfortable with who I am, with the frailties and the flaws and the strengths and make an effort toward bettering myself as much as I can. Uma's a pretty extraordinary woman. I mean, she's really wonderful and she's very smart and she's a real pro and she's just magnificent. I would like to do every movie with her. She was such a pleasure. I've worked with most of the actresses out there by now and she is by far the most professional, grounded. She's got these two wonderful kids. She had them on the set all the time. She's a wonderful mother. I just developed such a fondness for her over the course of this movie because at her essence, I admire her acting and yes, she's gorgeous and beautiful but she really is a rare exceptional good person.

What's your take on Arnold Schwarzenegger? Do you keep an eye on what he's doing?
I don't think Arnold is a stupid guy. I think he's actually a smart guy. Politics is increasingly about image and spin and manufacture and reductivism and selling and when you sell you sell one liners basically. So then it's no surprise that, in fact, the people best suited for that particular role are people who've done it successfully already. He has this name brand recognition. He's never been a politician so he doesn't have a record to attack and it's a sort of fantasy wish fulfillment, like the benevolent king kind of an idea, and he embraced that. I mean, he ran on the I'm going to terminate the budget deficit. What's discouraging is that he didn't (as I had hoped that he would) take the opportunity to also talk about what his policies were, instead of saying that the people don't care about numbers because I think some people do care about what the numbers are but that being said, he's the Governor now and I support him and I hope he does a good job because the state is having a lot of problems. I wish him the best.

(Interview courtesy of Munawar Hossain Piyal,
of the HFPA)



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