It’s not like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon wrote one popular movie and suddenly had the keys to the castle handed to them so they could go forth and prosper unhindered as Hollywood elites. That shit took hard work and a lot of ups and downs over the years. First, they had to collectively agree which one of them was going to be the hot one and which was going to be the smart one, and they still haven’t figured that shit out yet (shhh, don’t tell them neither of them are either)! Ben recently sat down with his buddy Matt for an interview for Entertainment Weekly and after spending the first quarter blowing air kisses at George Clooney’s ass and trading frat boy barbs, Ben got Batman serious talking about how sad he was that Gigli, the movie he starred in opposite his pop star girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Lopez, flopped because people saw him as “some callow frat guy who’s cavalier, or has too much.” My, how things have changed. Jennifer’s not just a pop star anymore, she’s a vocalist now!
First of all, let me preface this by letting you know that Ben covers this issue of EW and is featured in a slow-motion video that auto-plays where he strides by a rented swimming pool wearing “several yards of creamy, expensive-looking knitwear,” flanked by two flaxen-haired Great Pyrenees dogs he does not own. I mention this only because Ben says the biggest lesson he learned from doing Gigli is that “the public perception of a film can be impacted by narratives unrelated to what’s actually on the screen.” So don’t let the tight pants fool you, the movie he’s promoting here, The Tender Bar, is not necessarily a tragic tale of a man who traded his soul to the devil for everlasting fame and fortune only to be forever trapped within the pages of a Banana Republic catalog circa 2001. Ben’s not making that mistake twice! According to The Hollywood Reporter:
For Entertainment Weekly’s February cover story that published online on Tuesday, Affleck spoke to longtime friend and collaborator Matt Damon. During the interview, Damon asked Affleck to discuss a number of projects from his past, one of which was director Martin Brest’s infamously underperforming 2003 crime comedy Gigli, which co-starred Affleck and Lopez.
Affleck began by mentioning that he was a big fan of Brest’s previous films, including Midnight Run and Beverly Hills Cop. The star said he believes Gigli has some “wonderful stuff in there” but that the movie taught him that the public perception of a film can be impacted by narratives unrelated to what’s actually on the screen.
“But for being a movie that’s such a famous bomb and a disaster, very few people actually saw the movie,” he continued. “It doesn’t work, by the way. It’s a sort of horse’s head on a cow’s body.”
Ah, shit! He got me there! I have never seen Gigli. But I did see Forces of Nature, surely that counts for something. Ben went on to admit he’s been in “five movies, at least,” that flopped as hard as Gigli at the box office, but that “the funny name, the Jennifer Lopez romance and overexposure of that, it was kind of a perfect storm.” Says the man standing in the eye of a hurricane yelling “come on, take the damn picture, my Grecian Formula is starting to run!” Ben added:
“I thought my job was to be a cipher,” he continued about his view of acting at the time. “I can see now how people looked at me and thought of this person as some callow frat guy who’s cavalier, or has too much. It engendered a lot of negative feelings in people about me. There’s that aspect of people that I got to see that was sad and hard, it was depressing and really made me question things and feel disappointed and have a lot of self-doubt.”
I once erroneously replied “you too!” to the lady who was checking me in at the airport when she told me to “have a good trip” and spent the next 5-hours questioning things, feeling disappointed and experiencing self-doubt, so I get it. I really do. And we all have something to learn from these types of situations. I learned I should strive to be more present in the moment. And Ben learned from Gigli that directing is something he’d like to try. And then, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and star of Shakespeare in Love chose his words so carefully to describe the woman at the center of his heart, that the poets all collectively threw down their pens and wept.
And I did get to meet Jennifer, the relationship with whom has been really meaningful to me in my life.
Good thing Rilke is already dead or that “whom” would have killed him. Here are some shots from Ben’s haunted Banana Republic shoot.
Pic: EW via Instagram