Interview: Actor Ben Affleck On 'Gone Girl' Ben Affleck says playing a character shrouded in suspicion was liberating, because "likability was sort of thrown out of the window." He also looks back on where his career began: Voyage of the Mimi.
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Affleck: 'Gone Girl' Was Freeing, And 'Batman' Will Be No 'Daredevil'

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Affleck: 'Gone Girl' Was Freeing, And 'Batman' Will Be No 'Daredevil'

Affleck: 'Gone Girl' Was Freeing, And 'Batman' Will Be No 'Daredevil'

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

Some people aren't quite sure how to feel about Ben Affleck. Maybe you liked "Argo" but really don't like the thought of him as Batman, a role he'll take on in 2016. In the new movie "Gone Girl," you have to feel ambivalent about Affleck, because his character might be a murderer or just an innocent guy in a bad situation. "Gone Girl" is based on a novel about a woman's disappearance and the media circus that develops as suspicion falls on her husband.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GONE GIRL")

KIM DICKENS: (As Detective Rhonda Boney) You don't know if she has friends. You don't what she does all day. And you don't know your wife's blood type.

PATRICK FUGIT: (As Officer Jim Gilpin) Sure you all are married?

BEN AFFLECK: (As Nick Dunne) I - I - Maybe it's type O.

DICKENS: (As Detective Rhonda Boney) Where are her folks? New York?

AFFLECK: (As Nick Dunne) Yeah.

DICKENS: (As Detective Rhonda Boney) Can they get here in time for this press conference?

AFFLECK: (As Nick Dunne) Tomorrow? I have no idea. I haven't talked to them.

DICKENS: (As Detective Rhonda Boney) You haven't called your wife's parents?

AFFLECK: (As Nick Dunne) I mean, you can't get a signal in this building. I've been in here talking to you.

DICKENS: (As Detective Rhonda Boney) Well, call them please, Nick - now.

RATH: Ben Affleck joins us now. Welcome to the show.

AFFLECK: Thank you very much. If my voice is a little raspy, I'm a little under the weather. But it's a pleasure to be here.

RATH: Oh, thanks for coming in even feeling under the weather. I appreciate it.

AFFLECK: Not at all. It's what happens when you promote one of these movies. You get tired of hearing yourself talk.

(LAUGHTER)

RATH: So in talking about "Gone Girl," we're going to be kind of dancing around spoilers because this film is a mystery. But the first thing I was thinking is that's actually something we can talk about because that's one of your challenges as an actor for the first part of this film. We're guessing whether or not you're guilty or innocent.

AFFLECK: Yeah, performance-wise it wasn't something that I've had to do - I don't think ever - as an actor. I haven't done many movies where there was a sort of thriller component like this, at least in terms of my character - a mystery component almost.

I'm really quite proud of the movie. I think if you like the book, you'll like the movie. And I think the sort of surprises and the freshness of the plot will keep people on their toes, as well as the thematic stuff.

RATH: It's definitely not a formula film. Once you're a ways in, you kind of have no idea where this things is going to go.

AFFLECK: Yeah, and the really liberating thing was not - usually when you play a protagonist and you're a lead in the movie, there are sort of some unspoken rules. You know, you have to be a good person. You have to be a leader. You have to be smarter than everyone in the room. You have to kind of, you know, always give people steely glares and that kind of thing.

And in this case, we weren't encumbered by that at all. The whole idea of likeability was sort of thrown out the window. And I thought that was really exciting and liberating as an actor because you didn't know where this guy was going to go.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GONE GIRL")

AFFLECK: (As Nick Dunne) As you all know, my wife, Amy Elliott-Dunne, disappeared three days ago. I had nothing to do with the disappearance of my wife. I have nothing to hide.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: The hallmark of a sociopath is a lack of empathy.

RATH: What happens is, the two characters - Nick, his wife is missing. And it ends up turning into a media circus.

AFFLECK: Well, because we've created in the media, which is the kind of tragedy vampire, 24-hour news, murder-of-the-week media - look I've watched those shows myself. I wanted to know what happened with Casey Anthony and so on. But what happens is it gets exploited by people. The Nancy Graces of the world, you know, churn the story.

RATH: There's a great Nancy Grace-type character in this movie.

AFFLECK: You have the media that demands that we stay between the lines, that we play the roles right. If you're the grieving husband, you have to act and look like the grieving husband almost as if it's a soap opera. And if you don't do that, you don't play your role right, then all of a sudden you're the suspect husband.

RATH: After making your own films, you know, directing so successfully, is it difficult now for you to just sit back and be an actor and, you know...

AFFLECK: Well, when you're working with a director you really trust, who you really admire, it's actually quite relaxing.

RATH: I guess with a director like Fincher, you know you're going to be doing something interesting.

AFFLECK: Yeah, David is the sort of prime example of that, because he really is a master. I mean, "Social Network" and "Se7en" and, you know, he's made movies that I think are really modern masterpieces. Not only was it a chance to - not only did I trust David, but it was a chance for me to learn from him as a director and to steal some tools from his box.

RATH: Ben, I've got to ask you at least one question about that man.

AFFLECK: Sure, sure.

RATH: I'm wondering if you have any trepidation about any worries about doing a superhero? I know you've expressed regrets about "Daredevil."

AFFLECK: Indeed I have regrets about Daredevil. I have regrets about all the movies that I don't think were executed properly. One of the things I think - look, if I thought we were remaking "Daredevil," I'd be, you know, out there picketing myself. But I think the - and that goes for other movies as well that I haven't been happy with. You know, I'm hard on myself. And I have exacting standards. And I want to do excellent work. And I don't always succeed. But I think you have to start out with that drive.

This was written by Chris Terrio, who wrote "Argo," who's not a comic guy. And it's directed by Zach Snyder, who's a incredibly magical sort of visual stylist who's steeped in the comic world. And you have this sandwich of talents. I felt very confident about it. You know, it's all material and director, really. And I thought, as you mentioned "Daredevil" - I thought it'd be nice to make one of these movies really, really good.

RATH: Finally, I wanted to ask you - I know that not everything on the Internet is true.

AFFLECK: You've discovered that.

(LAUGHTER)

RATH: Yeah, a couple of times. Is it true that you got your start as a young man in public broadcasting?

AFFLECK: Indeed it is. I started at 7 years old working at - for - on a television show called "Voyage Of The Mimi," which is an educational show about math and science that was part documentary and part drama. And it was produced at WGBH in Boston. And I did it when I was seven, then 9, then 10, then hosting the documentaries.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOWS, "VOYAGE OF THE MIMI")

AFFLECK: (As Ben Affleck) I'm Ben Affleck. And I'm in the Arctic test chamber for the United States Army Research Institution.

AFFLECK: It gave me my start. And to this day, people come up to me and go - you know, I had to watch "Voyage Of The Mimi" in sixth grade. I'm not sure they're grateful, exactly, but it is how I got going.

RATH: Well, as we know, all the greats got their start in public broadcasting.

RATH: Ben Affleck's new movie is "Gone Girl." It's out now. Ben Affleck, thank you so much.

AFFLECK: Thanks. Bye-bye.

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