Ben Affleck talks about the next film in his career and reflects on moments from his personal and professional life.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published Thursday, the 50-year-old Academy Award winner talked about his upcoming project “Air,” which he’s co-producing with Matt Damon under their production company Artists Equity, and how his wife Jennifer Lopez has given script input.
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Affleck’s upcoming film tells the story of former Nike sports marketing executive and shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro (played by Damon) and the creation of Nike’s iconic Air Jordans, as well as Vaccaro’s attempts to sign then-rookie basketball player Michael Jordan to a sneaker deal .
Affleck, who directed and plays Nike co-founder Phil Knight in the film, said he sought approval from Jordan himself and wanted to know what was important to Jordan to include in the film.
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“He was the one who told me [Nike executive] Howard White, who was not in the original script, who is played by Chris Tucker,” Affleck said.
When it came to his parents, Affleck said Jordan was talking about his mother, Deloris Jordan, who is played by Oscar winner Viola Davis in the film.
The director also said that he got information about the script from his wife.
“Oh my God, she’s brilliant,” he said. “She is incredibly knowledgeable about how fashion evolves through culture as a combination of music, sports, entertainment and dance. She helped me talk about how part of the reason jordans [the shoes] were so significant because culture and style in America is 90 percent driven by black culture.”
Life with his wife and the viral Grammy meme
Affleck and Lopez, who rekindled their romance in 2021 after calling off their previous engagement in 2004, tied the knot last year, first in an intimate ceremony in Las Vegas and then months later in a larger ceremony in Georgia.
Since then, Lopez has shared glimpses of their life together in her OnTheJLo newsletter and on Instagram.
In February, the couple went to the Grammys together, but shortly after, memes surfaced online of him looking sad or bored at the show.
Affleck shared his perspective on the viral moments, saying he had a “good time.”
“My wife was going and I thought, ‘Well, there’s going to be some good music. It could be fun,” he said. “At film awards, it’s speeches and like sound mixing webinars. But I thought this would be fun. I saw [Grammy host Trevor Noah approach] and I was like, “As soon as they start rolling, I’m going to slide off of you and let you sit next to Trevor.”
He continued: “She says, ‘You better not leave.’ It’s kind of like husband and wife. I mean, part of it is that I’m like, “Okay, who is this artist?” Like, I’m out of step. My wife does, obviously. And yes, this is your wife’s work event.”
“I’ve gone to events and been angry, too. I’ve been going and I’ve been bored. I’ve been to awards shows and I’ve been drunk, a bunch,” Affleck added. “Nobody ever said I was drunk. [But at the Grammys] they were like “He’s drunk.” And I thought that was interesting.”
Affleck, who has spoken publicly about his battle with alcoholism, said the way he had been portrayed by the media in the past and how a previous interview with Howard Stern about his drinking had been misinterpreted had been “difficult”.
“I look at these things as landmines,” Affleck said of interviews. “If you say one wrong thing, your career can be over.” I had a really painful experience when I did an interview where I was really vulnerable and the whole peak was something that was not only not right, it was actually the opposite of what I meant.”
In his 2021 interview with Stern, Affleck talked about his career, his previous marriage to Jennifer Garner from 2005 to 2018, and his battle with alcoholism. During the interview, he said he would “probably still be drinking” if he had stayed with Garner.
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The comments at the time prompted fans to lash out at Affleck online, with some even using the hashtag #TeamGarner.
The actor responded to the comments on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and recounted how his interview with Stern was received.
“The idea that I blame my wife for my drinking,” Affleck told The Hollywood Reporter. “To be clear, my behavior is entirely my responsibility. The point I was trying to make was a sad one. Everyone who has been through a divorce does this calculation of “How hard should we try?” We loved each other. We take care of each other. We respect each other.”
“I was trying to say, ‘Hey, look, I’ve been drinking too much, and the less happy you get, whether it’s your job, your marriage, just when your life gets harder, if you do things, fill a hole, which is not healthy, you will start doing more things,” he added.
Affleck said Lopez also helped him get over what happened after his previous interview and cheered him up on the day of his conversation with The Hollywood Reporter.
“[She] today he tells me: “Relax, be yourself.” Have fun. You’re actually a funny guy who’s real and genuine and you just seem so serious,” he said. “She’s really right. And she loves me. She takes care of me. She is trying to help me. So maybe I should listen to her.”
Work-life balance and why he doesn’t want to direct James Gunn
These days, Affleck is parenting his blended family with Lopez. Affleck has three children from his first marriage to Garner: Violet, 17, Seraphina, 14, and Samuel, 11.
He said his production company helps him make films that allow him to be with his children.
Affleck said it was difficult being away from his children while filming Zack Snyder’s Justice League, in which he plays Batman.
“I just thought, ‘This is not the life I want. My children are not here. I am unhappy,” he said.
“I don’t condone it, nor do I ignore it, but I’ve gotten to a point where I find it creatively unsatisfying,” Affleck added. “And I thought, ‘I don’t want to be involved in this in any way. And I don’t want to waste any more of my limited life.”
When asked if he would direct a James Gunn film for DC Studios, Affleck said “absolutely not.”
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“I have nothing against James Gunn. Nice guy, he’ll do a great job for sure,” Affleck said. “I just wouldn’t want to come in and run the way they do it. I’m not interested in that.”
Affleck said one of the reasons he co-founded Artists Equity with Damon was that he didn’t want to miss out on seeing his children grow up.
“I’m divorced. I share custody. I don’t want to go to Austin and New Orleans and Georgia and not see my kids anymore,” he said. “It just doesn’t work. Those years are too important. If I miss them, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. And then I thought, ‘Okay, well, if I’m in Los Angeles and I’m in an office doing this job, I can go out to a basketball game or jazz. So I defend those things.”