"There’s nothing really about this guy or character that I feel connected to personally," Ben Affleck said recently of his role as Nick Dunne in Gone Girl. "Except that I have definitely felt as though I was looking at a version of my life that I didn’t recognize through the prism of the media."
Talking to the New York Times recently, the actor described how the plot of his new movie, wherin his wife goes missing and he has to defend himself under scrutiny of the media, somewhat mirrors his own relationship with public perceptions.
Interviewer Cara Buckley makes the valid point that one of Nick’s lines from the film echoes the actor’s own trajectory: "They disliked me, then they liked me. They hated me, and now they love me."
Affleck first came to my attention in the early films of Kevin Smith, often playing pretty unlikeable characters. In Mallrats, for example, he played a shopping mall lothario who was know for having sex with women "in an extremely uncomfortable place" – and he didn’t mean the backseat of a Volkswagen. (Google it.)
Ups and downs
Affleck gradually climbed the Hollywood ranks and his popularity rose with roles in Good Will Hunting (for which he also won a screenwriting Oscar) and Armageddon, but then plummeted with the ridiculous Gigli and Smith’s misfire Jersey Girl.
His reputation has been restored in recent years, following a string of directing and acting successes, including The Town, Gone Baby Gone and the fantastically gripping and watchable Argo, which quite rightly won an Oscar for Best Picture.
So, he’s familiar with the rollercoaster ride that comes with being in the public eye. Affleck admitted that he often felt miscast throughout his career. "I kept thinking, ‘This can’t be right,’" he said, seeing no resemblance between himself and his media persona.
But at least he only fell out of favour for making a few bad films – his character Nick is suspected of murdering his wife, Amy (played by Rosamund Pike). They have a seemingly perfect but tumultuous marriage – another tale of misconception.
Life imitating art imitating life…
On casting Affleck as Nick, director David Fincher said: "We had to have somebody who understood the lose-lose situation, and somebody who knew what that meant, and wasn’t angry about it," he said. "He actually has great wit about it. As it relates to this circumstance, he can see the humor in it. Even when he’s the punch line."
Gillian Flynn, who wrote the screenplay for Gone Girl and the novel on which it was based, also talked about how well suited Ben is for embodying Nick’s split-personality. "The sense is: ‘Here is this guy who may have killed his wife, but also I would love to grab a cheeseburger with him, and is that weird?’" she said. "There’s very few actors who have that aloofness, that little bit of arrogance, and that inherent likability."
With Gone Girl due for imminent release, Affleck is currently morphing into character for his role as the caped crusader in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. His stock is definitely continuing to rise enough for him to take his pick of Hollywood roles, so hopefully there are even more good things to come.
You can see Gone Girl at Cineworld from 3rd October.
Dogma, Daredevil, Dazed and Confused – what’s your favourite Ben Affleck movie? Tell us in the comments section below.