NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ben Affleck is not interested in playing nice guys and would choose an interesting, complicated character over a likeable one, which is what drew him to "Gone Girl," a dark thriller about marriage, intimacy and the roles people play.
It was that and working with Academy Award nominee David Fincher, who directed the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn's best-selling novel, which opens in U.S. theaters on Friday.
The 42-year-old actor plays Nick Dunne, a charming writer in New York who loses his job and returns to his recession-hit hometown in Missouri, with his beautiful wife in tow.
When Amy, played by British actress Rosamund Pike, goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick becomes the prime suspect and center of a media circus.
Some critics have called it the best performance yet by Affleck, who has won Oscars as producer of best picture "Argo" and screenwriter of "Good Will Hunting."
"It's about role playing. It's about what women ask of men and men ask of women, and in the way we kind of show one another half of ourselves and not the whole self," Affleck said in an interview.
"He feels like he is unfulfilled and he is being asked to do more than he should, and he is frustrated and he resents his wife. She resents him," he added. "It was trying to get into that mind-set of recrimination and resentment, which was dark and tough and ugly."
No one is quite who they seem to be in the film, which shuffles back and forth in time and is told from both Nick's and Amy's perspectives.
Pike, a former Bond girl who appeared in "Pride and Prejudice" and "Jack Reacher," was intrigued by more than just the multi-layered character of Amy.
"It's the way she slots into this world and what she and Nick, as a unit, say about marriage and narcissism and knowing each other and intimacy," the 35-year-old actress said.
Flynn, who wrote the screenplay for the film, which debuted at the New York Film Festival, liked the idea of creating Amy, who had the ability and the skill set to play whomever she needed to be, depending on whom she was with.
"She is sort of mystifying. You can't quite get a reading on her and that is very exciting and where she takes you is not where you think she is taking you. You approach with relish," said Pike.
The actress has won praise for her performance, which the Los Angeles Times said "defies expectations at every turn" and New York Magazine described as "a study in acting."
"The story of 'Gone Girl,' in a way, is a story about story telling," said Flynn. "The stories we tell each other. The stories we created when we created our own personas that we are giving the world."
(The story was refiled to fix a typo in the first paragraph)
(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Mary Milliken and Steve Orlofsky)