A lot of big movies are almost codirected by FX houses, because what can you do when the script says, "Here's our hero, he flies down, he turns into 30 monkeys, and they spin around and fight each other"? You know? They're the people who have to do it while the director sits there and says, "Uh, I dunno, can that monkey maybe stretch out a little more? What's the elasticity of the tail?" And the audience expects those movies to top each other.
DETAILS: When you're shooting, are you the kind of guy who goes to sleep thinking about the movie?
Ben Affleck: Always, always. I'm not very present in the rest of my life. My wife's very patient. She does everything. If I have time, I try to spend time with the kids, even if just to be a physical presence, the bath, whatever. But my mind's always going, "How are we going to light that shot tomorrow? What's the master shot for that scene? Is there even going to be a master?" Just ruminating endlessly. Because for me—I wish it was discipline or being a great artist. But it's just anxiety.
DETAILS: You're clearly attracted to the kind of adult dramas that studios are reluctant to make and that come out in the fall, between blockbuster seasons. You're sort of Mr. October, but it doesn't mean the same thing it means in baseball.
Ben Affleck: [Laughs] Yeah. It's like being Mr. May in baseball! It is tough, because there are a lot of good filmmakers making movies. If you look at who's out there, you look at [Alejandro González] Iñárritu, and you look at Paul Thomas Anderson, and you look at the Coen brothers, and you look at Scorsese, the list just goes on and on. David O. Russell, Darren Aronofsky. And all of those directors get relegated to September to mid-November, because Thanksgiving and December are just Blockbustersville all over again.
DETAILS: You're highly selective in picking the movies you direct. Does that now extend to your acting choices?
Ben Affleck: Probably. I'm acting a lot less. And when I have the time, I think, "It has to be a really good part, it has to be a director I want to work with." My life's different now. It's not as if when I'm not acting I'm in a club or playing video games. I have my family. I have philanthropic work that means a lot to me. So I've definitely turned down some things. Not because I suddenly have such great taste but . . . maturity, I guess. The kinds of movies that used to appeal to me don't necessarily appeal to me anymore.
DETAILS: When do you imagine you'd like to direct again?
Ben Affleck: I'd like to find another movie to do this fall. Or if not, not. Because I'm gonna whistle-stop this movie. Between Europe and here, it'll be two months of promotion. Which I would never do if I just acted in a movie. But if you direct, you'll basically do anything. It'll be exhausting, but there's a lot to talk about. Politics, Hollywood, history, the seventies, seventies movies! It's not just "Do you remember your first kiss?"