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Affleck gets comfortable behind the camera

Ben has every right to be proud of himself—the film is already getting a lot of Oscar buzz — but he’s even more elated that his brother Casey Affleck is getting his due.

As he greeted a group of reporters in a hotel room, Ben Affleck looked tired. The usually spunky actor/filmmaker was pleasant and coherent, but those side-splitting one-liners that often precede his answers were more often than not replaced by some rather long-winded, yet meaningful responses to questions about his directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone.”

Even though Ben won a screenwriting Oscar with his childhood buddy Matt Damon back in 1997 for “Good Will Hunting,” it’s a whole different ball game when you’re running the show. It’s no wonder he was a bit weary.

“As it turns out I set myself up for the most difficult job possible,” Affleck said with a half grin.

But while Ben has every right to be proud of himself—the film is already getting a lot of Oscar buzz — he’s even more elated that his brother Casey Affleck is getting his due.

Up until now Casey has been the guy you see as a supporting supporting player in a lot of big budget ensemble flicks like the “Ocean’s” and “American Pie” franchises. But with his role as a conflicted Boston private investigator looking into the mysterious disappearance of a 4-year-old girl in “Gone”; his appearance in “The Assassination of Jesse James” and an upcoming animated feature that he’s penning for Warner Bros., Casey is starting to emerge from Ben’s shadow and people — including his older brother are starting to notice that he has some chops, too.

“He was brave,” Ben said. “I got to see a fearlessness that I really admired. And I really was just so satisfied and kind of felt personally rewarded by the fact that I saw — about half way through — where he’s going to be really good in this movie. It just makes me so happy because I know on some level there were people who were like, ‘He’s just casting his brother.’ Now they’ll see the movie and see that they were wrong.”

Ben says he wasn’t actually thinking of Casey when he was working on the “Gone Baby Gone” screenplay because the character in the book was much older. But after completing the script he thought he should go younger so that the audience could see what prompted the character’s choices when he found himself at the fork in the road.

“And then I thought it lets me cast this great actor that I know who comes from Boston, who I can get, who I can afford,” Ben said.

‘We kind of just spoke the same language’This was not the first time the brothers had worked together. Casey had a small part in “Good Will Hunting.” Although the two didn’t always agree on things, Casey enjoyed being back on the “A” team.

“It was real easy,” said Casey, who has a more pronounced Boston accent than his older brother. “We kind of just spoke the same language and were very comfortable just saying to one another ‘I think that’s a terrible idea’ or saying ‘That’s a great idea.’”

Working for Ben, however, was great, just not that special.

“It wasn’t like a huge difference in the way that I relate to any other director,” Casey said. “I would just say that he did it very well. He sort of articulated what he wanted. He was also very inclusive, collaborative, patient and would listen to me.”

Ben conceded that there were times that they disagreed, but he sees that as a good thing.

“I’ve made some terrible mistakes just agreeing with folks” Ben said. “We made a lot of stuff better going through like, ‘Why do you want to do that? It doesn’t make sense,’ and then almost always the scenes got better doing that. He’s very smart and his focus is always on making the scene better. Casey is really authentically thinking and living and surprising and engaged while you’re photographing him and giving you like a wide array of stuff to use.”

Initially, Ben thought of casting himself in the lead role but soon realized doing double duty would be a little too daunting.

“The idea of directing alone was terrifying,” Ben said. “I don’t know how in the world guys like Clint Eastwood managed to do ‘Unforgiven’ — every shot they’re in it and acting. It just seems incredibly difficult.”

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But in the end it appears that Ben has had to wear two hats after all. In addition to directing his brother, he’s also become his publicist of sorts. On the surface it seems as though Casey is the more reserved brother who clearly hasn’t adjusted to being the center of attention yet. Conversely, Ben who is now married to Jennifer Garner, has lived much of his life in the spotlight since he became an Oscar winner at age 24.

“I think this is just a new thing for him,” says Ben. “There’s the work that you do in the movie as an actor where they turn the camera on and point it at you and you talk or don’t talk. And then there is this arena here where you come in and talk to people and communicate with members of the press. So, those two obviously have some overlap and some relationship with one another.

“The acting thing he can do. It’s a small adjustment. The other is a bigger adjustment and I’m confident that he’ll make that.”

Miki Turner is a columnist for MSNBC.com. She welcomes your comments at mikiturner.msnbc@gmail.com.