As Ben Affleck prepares to release his latest film, “Hollywoodland,” he sat down with Access Hollywood's Billy Bush to talk about his new movie, changes in his life and what it's like to be a dad.
“Hollywoodland” follows a 1950s private detective who, while investigating the mysterious death of “Superman” star George Reeves (Affleck), uncovers unexpected connections to his own life as the case turns more personal. The torrid affair Reeves had with the wife of a studio executive might hold the key to the truth.
“You were great in this movie. Let's just get that out there,” Billy complimented Ben.
“Thank you. Thank you very much,” Ben replied.
Fair to say, the dramatic role is a far departure for Affleck from some of his more recent, lighter projects, such as “Clerks 2,” “Surviving Christmas,” “Gigli” or “Paycheck.”
“Talk about choosing the role. How did it come about? How did you make this choice?” Billy asked.
“Initially, it was just the script was really good. It's taken me awhile, but I've kind of learned to just understand that script has to be good to start with. It's not like ‘We will get it there. We'll work on it and it'll get better.’ It has to be great to begin with,” Ben explained. “We have a director who is a really smart guy and had a great take on it and I had a chance to work with these sublime actors. I mean, Diane Lane is as good as anyone. Adrien Brody is spectacular. So that was kind of a given in that sense.”
Ben also added that the roles he is choosing at this point in his life are much different that in years passed.
“It got to a point in my life where what was available to me was much more interesting stuff that wasn't about money, it wasn't about big poster movies — it was about interesting stories,” Ben continued. “And this was a guy whose story was really interesting. It was kind of a low budget movie and kind of an experiment in storytelling that was about a dark subject.”
“You made a change in your life as far as how you choose movies didn't you? You really got into this script,” Billy noted.
“Well, to a certain extent I didn't want to just do one thing. I didn't want to do what I had been doing anymore. It didn't make my happy,” Ben revealed.
“Did you go for the money? Will you admit there were times when you were like ‘That's a huge check. I'm taking it’?” Billy asked Ben.
“Oh definitely,” Ben admitted. “My feeling was like, I started out wanting to be an actor, got a break and was shocked. The idea that I would even be successful at all was so foreign to me. I certainly didn't have time to anticipate what it would be like or prepare for it.”
“So when people are throwing checks at you, you're like ‘I'm in,’” Billy said.
“I got successful and it was really exciting and then it became unpleasant,” Ben added. “It is corrupting your life in a way that I think people can kind of understand.”
Clearly, Ben has changed not only as an actor, but as a person. And as Billy found out, fatherhood played a large part in the change.
“What has been your most poignant moment of fatherhood?” Billy asked.
“The whole thing has been pretty exquisite. It's completely realigned my priorities,” Ben beamed. “My work is absolutely secondary to my family and that's good. It's as it should be and it's effortless.”
Husband to Jennifer Garner and father to their 8-month-old daughter Violet, Ben is a new man. Gone are the flashy days of arriving to a premiere in a Rolls Royce and being the subject of tabloid headlines.
“You've made great changes personally. I haven't seen you coming out of Starbucks in your sweats in a while,” Billy laughed. “Personally, you are laying very low. Are you over Hollywood?”
“I try as hard as I possibly can to not be in the…” Ben said as he paused. “Because really, actually, it just hurts your career. It hurts your life, hurts your career, it hurts almost everything about you.”
Catch Ben in “Hollywoodland” when it hits theaters Sept. 8.