Ben Affleck: ‘The press can be invasive, dishonest, you have to put up with that’

Ben Affleck has a long interview with The Guardian in which he’s promoting Live By Night, his latest passion project, a gangster film set in prohibition era Boston. Early signs point to the film not being a hit, but we’ll see when it comes out on January 7. Affleck goes into detail in this interview about his issues with fame and the press, as he often does. He claims to have made his peace with the press, but given how much he complains about them that’s doubtful. He also says that he’s worried for his children, who put up with the paparazzi on a daily basis. Here’s more of what he told The Guardian.

On his 2014 debate with Sam Harris on Real Time
I love a good debate and I get very energised by it. On Real Time, I think people could tell I had a genuine emotional response because I strongly believe that no one should be stereotyped on the basis of their race or religion. It’s one of the most fundamental tenets of liberal thought.

He doesn’t want to go into politics due to fundraising, schmoozing
But I really wouldn’t want to. It’s not because I think being a public servant wouldn’t be satisfying, but it’s become a pure money-raising exercise from beginning to end. It’s small talk with people who you want to squeeze money out of. It’s sleazy. You have to have a certain tolerance to that kind of schmooze that I don’t have.

On Brexit and the US election
I spent five months in London [last year] and I have to say the Brexit vote smacked of the same kinds of things I heard here. People whose overarching political agenda is that immigrants are ruining things for us or immigrants are getting one over on us somehow, taking advantage. In London, it’s Polish people and here it’s Mexican Americans. I still believe in the basic goodness of people, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going through a spell where we’re in thrall to some ugly ideas and ugly notions.

On meeting Donald Trump
I met him once at a Fashion Week event in Milan. You knew you were at a cheesy party if Donald Trump was there. He would kind of trawl around them. He was famous for only granting permission for films to shoot on his real estate locations if they put him in as a cameo. The director Marty Brest told me he’d had to create a whole hand-shaking scene in Scent of a Woman where Trump comes out of the door and goes, ‘Hey! Donald Trump, nice to meet you,’ as he bumps into Al Pacino. The ego was there a long time ago.

On his career setbacks in the early 2000s
I’d always had a strong idea about my values and the direction I wanted to be headed in, then I ran into getting famous and it totally spun me around and I flailed around for a few years. When you’re a young man in your 20s, part of that is making mistakes and learning from them. I just made those in front of everybody, rather than privately. There’s stuff I look back on and kind of cringe at but I always tried to treat other people well. My parents imbued that in me and the mistakes I made were mostly just of the embarrassing kind.

On Live By Night’s tagline “the American dream comes at a price”
Absolutely. I’ve been lucky. I’ve had my wildest dreams come true, but the price is the Faustian exchange you make where your identity is not your own. You become a public figure and it changes all the rules. The press can become invasive and dishonest, and you have to put up with inconvenient stuff like that. I’m at peace with paying my own price, what I’m not at peace with is when it invades on my kids’ space and time. They didn’t make any bargains. I try to shelter them as best I can. That’s my only real gripe.

[From The Guardian]

Later in the interview he credits Robin Williams for his success, after Robin agreed to do Good Will Hunting with him and Matt, stating “Most people can’t point to the moment that changed their life in such a dramatic way, but I can. It was the moment that Robin decided to take a flyer on that movie. I’ll always feel a huge debt to him although now I’ll never get to repay it.” It was sweet the way he talked about Robin. As for Ben’s thoughts on his kids and trying to shelter them from the paparazzi, I really wonder if that decision is more on his wife than him. Really all they would need to do to avoid being photographed on a daily basis is to move to another area, which Garner has dismissed as potentially ineffective. I do understand that their children’s schools and their work is in LA. As long as they live there it’s probably out of their hands.

Ben Affleck Takes His Son To Breakfast

Jennifer Garner & Ben Affleck Attend Church With Their Children

photos credit: FameFlynet and Getty

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51 Responses to “Ben Affleck: ‘The press can be invasive, dishonest, you have to put up with that’”

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  1. SusanneToo says:

    I’ve never seen Scent of a Woman. Learning that the #RapistinChief is in it, I never will.

  2. als says:

    For a smart guy, he comes across really dumb here.
    Of course he doesn’t schmooze, that is what Garner does for him all day, every day, especially in Oscar promotion campaigns. That is why she always smiles and shakes hands. His kids have been used for schmoozing as well. The family pap walks are now common knowledge. He is either in the dark regarding the mechanism that him and his family are a part of or he is a straight out liar.

    • lightpurple says:

      He is referring to the schmoozing that goes with political fundraising, which is a completely different beast.

      • Birdix says:

        But he’s chatting about/selling himself and his projects to a friendly interviewer, not that different. And later says that the price he paid for selling his soul to achieve his dreams (and lots of money) is lack of privacy. Politicians may have a different price to pay for their Faustian bargain, but it’s the same deal.

      • Plewas says:

        Nope-like Carville said a long time ago, politics are simply Hollywood fir ugly people, and the need to sell and compromise myself just to get a project off background is in fact very similar.

    • Ramona says:

      I vote straight out liar. Also, I dont know why CB is pinning the pap exposure on Jen. This is the guy that tried to erase an ancester on a TV show. Every few months, he says something regarding his past image and how it harmed him. His relationship with Jlo was one long obnoxious pr exercise. He is clearly the image manipulator in that home. He made it clear what he wants out of that marriage PR wise and Jen endeavours to deliver. Dont believe for one second the sullen act he puts on at the market and church photo ops. He wants to be seen, needs to be seen and thats the only reason he would be there. And in his absence during drinking and nanny banging binges, it was critical that the world be reminded weekly that his family was just like ours.

    • bobslaw says:

      Agreed. When he talks about respecting people and how his parents drilled that into him when he was young reeks of hypocrisy. Cheating on your wife, dragging her name through the tabloids because of your poor behaviour…that’s hardly respectful.

  3. Lingling says:

    I just don’t like him. I don’t get how he’s still a thing in movies or as big as he is. I understand Matt Damon, but Ben Affleck has never been a very good actor in my opinion.

    And his mouth bothers me, but that’s a personal problem.

  4. A says:

    He always seems likeable and decent in long-form interviews.

  5. Ashamed 2 b a Fl girl says:

    I was living in NYC in the 80’s and at a club with a date and another couple, sitting at a table, and
    Donald Trump walked in with an entourage of maybe 6 people and went to every, single table offering his autograph. He literally came up to our table and said, “I’m Donald Trump, you’re going to want my autograph.” My date, who later became my husband, politely said “Excuse us, we are having dinner here.” The a$$hole came back 3 times to talk to us and try to give us his autograph. He cannot stand rejection and his ego is beyond enormous.

    • Shambles says:

      That’s what he likes to do. Force himself on people who don’t want anything to do with him. Oh, f*ck me. He’s the President in less than 3 weeks.

    • Don't kill me I'm French says:

      During Chris Nolan’s last Batman movie,they used NY Trump building for Wayne Entreprise.Trump didn’t make cameo but he wanted a pic with Bale in his office to post on his Facebook.All Trump likes is to meet celebrities

    • Emily says:

      Ugh, god. That sounds very Donald Trump. On the other hand, your husband seems like a good choice! 🙂

      • Ashamed 2 b a Fl girl says:

        He was a good choice and a good man. He worked many years at NBC writing the news and he could call someone (me included) on their BS. He is no longer with us and I miss him still.

  6. nemera34 says:

    I can’t tell if he has gained weight but his face looks puffy. There are many celebs more sought after that aren’t photographed daily. So we know that it is possible to go MIA. I know sometimes celebs are seen’ but Jennifer is seen every day pretty much. And they seem to go shopping every single day. He talks about this all the time. But even though his kids are seen all the time: I don’t know if there is much of an interest. Maybe that was Jennifer’s end goal. Let the kids be seen so must that the public loses interest.

    • Ramona says:

      Interesting. I think because Jen and the kids have an established routine, they are a very easy pay day. So the question is whether it is in Bens or Jens interests to disrupt the routine and start afresh elsewhere. And the answer is a resounding no. The attention feeds a positive narrative that hides Bens flaws and helps his career. I dont think it has benefitted her at all. If anything its pegion holed her as a nice wife/mummy type and locked out of more enduring roles. Unless she plans to start a lifestyle brand, this has all been for Ben.

      • K says:

        but a lot of huge stars with kids have daily routines and you don’t see them. Ben and especially Jen (its her career now) court the paps which is their right but stop whining.

  7. MostlyMegan says:

    I have no doubt that this guy can ‘schmooze’ with the best of them, when he wants to

  8. Brea says:

    I actually like most of his interviews cause he always has something interesting to say, I just wish journalists would stop relentlessy asking him about the 00’s and Gigli, or maybe he made it a talking point. We got it: you made some bad career choices, dated a megastar and enjoyed fame, let’s move on! Especially now that he’s an accomplished director with a lot of work.
    For what concerns paparazzis I feel sorry for the kids who have to endure living with cameras in their faces but let’s not pretend that they don’t trot them out to craft the perfect family image anytime he’s campaigning for something.

    • Don't kill me I'm French says:

      One of my neighbors is movie journalist from a Belgian newspaper and met Affleck 3 times last year.
      For Batman/Superman,Affleck was ready to cry .
      For Mr Wolf,he spoke about his future Batman directed movie and how the media was nasty with Suicide Quad.
      For his gangster movie,he talked about politic and his family

    • nemera34 says:

      He still brings those topics up. If he didn’t then they would be gone. He talks about them so he is asked about them.

  9. perplexed says:

    “There’s stuff I look back on and kind of cringe at but I always tried to treat other people well. ”

    Is this past tense? Because I don’t get why he doesn’t try to treat his wife well. Do guys consider cheating to be in a different category or something?

  10. Crumpet says:

    The press can be dishonest? I’m shocked.

    • Jc says:

      I disagree with his comment. Specify what press otherwise it is a Donald trump dishonest media comment. Tabloid press is a LOT different than white house Press pool.

      • K says:

        Exactly the media at large isn’t dishonest, is the National Inquirer? Yeah its a joke and fiction and I would bet it is very difficult to deal with seeing your business on the front page of it but The Washington Post isn’t dishonest, do they make mistakes of course and they correct them most of the time. But they aren’t blatantly lying or being dishonest.

        To say media is a joke and gives your argument no validity.

  11. JoJo says:

    I’m loving the revisionist history narrative he’s pushing lately. Mind you, I actually LIKE Ben, but the PR job over the last year and a half from their PR teams has been incredible. We went from a divorce announcement with leaks of a decade-long marriage that was troubled from day one and public nanny scandal to people now talking about Jen as his wife again as if nothing happened. We should just view his “flailing around” through the lens of a young man doing things young men do in their 20s. Yet, his flailing around actually never stopped – at least not personally – when he married Garner and it clearly continued/ues well into his 40s. We are now just supposed to view all of that as a small blip from which he has now recovered so we can all return to the happy family/marriage story. Uh huh.

    • Jenfan says:

      I think they are still saying “estranged wife”. Though gossipcip came out with a denial on the Jen blames and hates Matt story over the weekend. No denial on the reconciliation .

      So will there be rings in today’s pap shots? And I imagine it’s the 1st day back to school so there will at least be pap shots of Jen. I’m thinking no rings – they will just continue on in indefinite limbo.

      • mel says:

        The rings have got to be back on, they can’t stay like this forever. Surely they would want to start 2017 fresh as a couple (publicly)

      • JoJo says:

        @JenFan – Yeah, if past stories about Matt not being all that fond of Jen in recent years are true, the Enquirer’s story doesn’t seem all that off-base to me. There were a lot of stories a few years ago about Jen not liking any of Ben’s friends.

        I’m curious about Lainey’s intro. post today. She mentions kicking off the New Year with the Golden Globes and to get ready for “divorce court all month” and then segues straight to Ben and Live by Night. Wondered if she’s alluding to Ben/Jen but I guess more likely Brange…

    • Jenfan says:

      Nah, I don’t think Ben and Jen will file in January – Ben has his film release on the 13th and I suspect would want positive publicity for as long as possible. I have been waiting for Lainey to write about all the bad reviews on live by night – thought it was a good post.

      • Jenfan says:

        I do think she was referring to brad and Angie and perhaps others. A lot of divorces that were announced in 2015 same time as Ben and Jen – have been finalized – Gwen Stefani and now Halle Berry.
        If they are not getting back together I suspect they realize that it is cheaper to stay married until either one had a person they want to marry. In the interim they still live and vacation in their mutually owned properties. 🙂

      • JoJo says:

        I guess we’ll see if Ben is suddenly sporting his ring at the Golden Globes on Sunday…

      • JoJo says:

        I guess we’ll see if Ben is suddenly sporting his ring on Sunday… 🙂

      • Jenfan says:

        I don’t think he will be sporting a ring at the golden globes. (Unless Jen comes with him, and I don’t think she will) – maybe at the live by night premier Monday night? – looks like Ben is going to have quite the busy week next week.

        When does Jen begin filming her next movie?

  12. Fanny says:

    I’d forgotten about that Sean Harris interview. Man was that interview embarrassing. He didn’t blow that interview because he was so passionate. He blew it because he was inarticulate, can’t debate with anyone who doesn’t share all of his liberal viewpoints, and he also appeared to be…let’s say tired and puffy.

    I see far fewer pictures of Jennifer and the kids ever since she helped get that paparazzi law in California passed. A lot fewer. And now the pictures seem to be taken at a greater distance (from across the street, for example).

    But I remember when the law was passed, people were saying that Jennifer has no excuse and every single picture that gets taken now must be because she called the paparazzi. I don’t think that’s true, and I don’t think the blame should always be on her. The pictures I’ve seen that looked the most staged and the most suspiciously timed have always had Ben playing the doting daddy.

  13. Emily says:

    In what ways has the press been dishonest about him? That’s what bothers me about Affleck. I understand that there’s a trade-off you make for being an incredibly accomplished actor/director, especially if you’re married to another famous person, but I don’t think it’s resulted in the press making stuff up. He dated J-Lo and changed his look to fit in. He was in that cheesy music video. He did sleep with a nanny, right? His wife thought about leaving him, right? So this whole, “poor me, the press lies” is so phony. They’re not lying, you just don’t like what they’re talking about. Which is a fine point to make; I wouldn’t want my every mistake played out on magazine covers, either. But stick to that.

    • Fanny says:

      I’d say if anything, the press holds back a lot when it comes to Ben. The extent of his gambling/drinking/cheating have barely been touched upon.

      Ben sees himself as a good guy – actions not relevant. So any coverage that hints he is anything other than the good guy he sees himself as must be a lie.

  14. Bridget says:

    Is it just that he needs to have something to fight against? That he needs to be an underdog somehow? It’s always something with him.

  15. Kate says:

    The press is dishonest ? Ben, a woman in your position caught cheating with strippers days before the wedding and a decade later with the nanny, would have been RIPPED apart. Career dead in the water. Ask Meg Ryan.

  16. Jayna says:

    Good interview.

  17. Bridget says:

    Wasn’t it Ben’s PR person/management that’s been asking for coverage of Casey’s harassment allegations to be removed too?

      • JoJo says:

        @A – Yes, that is true. I’ll have to find the article, but I read that recently – that Casey shares the same publicist as Ben (or at least did/does temporarily), and they had succeeded in getting at least one major media site to pull down their story about Casey’s charges.

      • Uch says:

        If the charges are true – and they seem to be – Casey is a real dog – a talented actor – but a dog – I would never go see his movies.

      • JoJo says:

        @A – I take that back. It IS true that Casey’s PR team has been working to get articles about the lawsuit pulled down. (See The Wrap’s story.) But I was wrong that it was the same PR firm as Ben’s. It wasn’t.

  18. A says:

    My prediction is that they’ll officially be a couple again in late January or February. If they do it now, people would say it’s promotion for Live By Night.

  19. Charlotte says:

    @Jenfan: yes,Gossipcop has changed the previus post about Jen’s new pregnancy. first posted that Jen isn’t pregnant and the divorce isn’t off. Then removed this last part to only saying she’s not pregnant.