Ben Affleck gave an interview to The Hollywood Reporter this week, and while the Justice League experience will generate the most attention (and clicks), it’s not the most interesting or insightful part of the interview, which is wide-ranging and intelligent. But let’s get Justice League out of the way first: Yes, he hated it, and because he hated it so much, he bailed on directing Batman. Why did he hate it? Some people online are already blaming Joss Whedon. Whedon was certainly part of it, but it sounds like it was a bad scene all around.
Justice League … You could teach a seminar on all the reasons why this is how not to do it. Ranging from production to bad decisions to horrible personal tragedy, and just ending with the most monstrous taste in my mouth … That was the worst experience I’ve ever seen in a business which is full of some shitty experiences. It broke my heart.
“There was an idea of someone [Joss Whedon] coming in, like, ‘I’ll rescue you and we’ll do 60 days of shooting and I’ll write a whole thing around what you have. I’ve got the secret.’ And it wasn’t the secret. That was hard. And I started to drink too much. I was back at the hotel in London, it was either that or jump out the window. And I just thought, “This isn’t the life I want. My kids aren’t here. I’m miserable.” You want to go to work and find something interesting to hang onto, rather than just wearing a rubber suit, and most of it you’re just standing against the computer screen going, “If this nuclear waste gets loose, we’ll … ” That’s fine. I don’t condescend to that or put it down, but I got to a point where I found it creatively not satisfying. Also just, you’re sweaty and exhausted. And I thought, “I don’t want to participate in this in any way. And I don’t want to squander any more of my life, of which I have a limited amount.”
Affleck did seem to have a good experience filming a scene in Zack Snyder’s Justice League in Snyder’s backyard, and he’s proud that it’s now his highest-rated movie on IMDb. “All of a sudden I was getting congratulated for the bomb I’m in.”
What about all the Grammy’s memes? Did that bother him? Nah, he had a “good time” at the Grammys. As for the exchange between Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck that everyone was talking about the next day?
“I saw [Grammy host Trevor Noah approach] and I was like, “Oh, God.” They were framing us in this shot, but I didn’t know they were rolling. I leaned into her and I was like, “As soon they start rolling, I’m going to slide away from you and leave you sitting next to Trevor.” She goes, “You better fucking not leave.” That’s a husband-and-wife thing.
That tracks. He also talks about a Wordle game that he plays with some other celebrities, which Jason Bateman and Will Arnett have mentioned numerous times on the Smartless podcast, which is equal parts endearing, obnoxious, and nerdy. There’s some real Dad energy here:
I was invited to join a cool little red velvet rope celebrity Wordle group. Matt [Damon]’s one of them. Jason Bateman and Bradley [Cooper], and … Actually, the first rule of Wordle is don’t talk about Wordle. Unless you get it in three guesses. I used to do the crossword compulsively in the mornings and think I was good at word games. And let’s face it, going up against actors, it’s not a high bar. I expected to do fairly well, so I was seriously humbled. You have to do the Wordle, the Quordle and the Octordle, and add up your score, and then whoever gets the lowest score wins for the day. It’s fiercely competitive, and there’s a lot of mockery and derision. So I’m in training.
I can confirm that, at least on Smartless, Matt Damon has gotten shit for going to Harvard and sucking at their daily Worlde game.
Above are the good sound bites, but the full interview is terrific. He gets into his new company with Matt Damon, why he and Damon took so long to start working together, his alcoholism, how he landed Viola Davis for Air, and the way the media has deliberately mischaracterized some things he has said. He’s also really cute about his wife, who is referred to frequently and with whom he is clearly smitten.
Affleck’s Air with Matt Damon premieres on April 5th ahead of its Prime release (and will also screen at SXSW this weekend).