After a handful of his films bombed and Bennifer 1.0 fizzled, Affleck felt straight up radioactive.
Ben Affleck’s career has been quite a roller coaster so far — and, speaking with Howard Stern, the actor looked back at one of those low points in the early 2000s.
Riding high off the successes of early films like “Good Will Hunting,” “Armageddon” and “Pearl Harbor,” his resume took a downward turn starting with “Daredevil.” While the movie made money, it was trashed by critics — and was quickly followed up by “Gigli,” his much-derided film with then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez. Throw “Surviving Christmas” and “Jersey Girl” — as well as his split from Lopez — into the mix and, well, it wasn’t looking so good.
During his conversation with Stern, the radio host asked whether he ever had a moment where he was concerned Matt Damon’s career would take off while his faltered.
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“I never was scared of that. I had one moment where it scared me. It wasn’t because Matt would be successful. I always wanted Matt to be successful, I figure if I’m broke he’s one of the only guys who would lend me money anyway,” Affleck began. “But I did face a moment in my life, three movies in a row that bombed, I became the most f—ing uncool guy … somebody that’s cool to pick on.”
He said it got so bad that he was attached to a film that the studio wound up shutting down at a cost to them because they’d rather “pay money to not make a movie with me.” He said that was an experience that was “worse than being fired” from any project and recalled telling Damon at the time, “Everything was going great and I don’t know what I did but somehow I ended up in the worst of both worlds — where I can’t sell movie tickets, but I can sell tabloid f—ing magazines.”
Affleck said he stopped hearing from people he thought were his friends and even got to a point where one writer was talking trash about Ben to his brother Casey Affleck’s face.
“For a time I got disillusioned, it f—ing hurt, angry, disappointed and I felt like a fool. I was like, I thought those people liked me. They didn’t like me,” he told Stern. “Then I thought, I know who my friends are. Because there were people who were good to me, helped me, gave me a crack. I had a few relationships that were good and had some friends who were like, ‘This sucks, I’m sorry man.'”
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Thankfully for Ben, he got some of his Hollywood cred back by directing “Gone Baby Gone,” before finding even more success by directing and starring in “The Town.” As opening weekend numbers and positive reviews came in, Affleck said he got a call from his agent saying a number of people were calling him again to work with Ben.
“I started with the link, ‘F— him,'” said Affleck, wanting to turn down those who he felt abandoned him. But his agent, he said, told him, “We’re going to welcome all our old friends back.'” It wound up being solid advice — and, according to Affleck, was “better than what I would have done.”
As part of his decision to let go of grudges, Affleck said he found a peaceful way to deal with somebody at “Saturday Night Live” who had been giving him grief.
“There’s an actor on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ I’ve hosted a few times, I know the guy talks s— about me all the time because everyone tells me, ‘This guy thinks you’re an a——, this guy f—ing hates you.’ I’m like, alright, it happens,” said Ben, before revealing how he approached him once while hosting, presumably during his 2013 appearance in support of “Argo” — his only hosting gig on the show following his box office bombs.
“I went up to him on the set when I got there, like, ‘Hey Man, I gotta tell you, I love what you do on this show. You carry this f—ing thing. It’s so good, I love that sketch,'” he said. “Guy completely, I watched his face, he looked at me like, ‘Maybe he does have good taste.'”
“Turns out, a lot of that s— … it’s not personal, he doesn’t know me. He’s unhappy, he’s resentful, bitter, I don’t know what his issues are,” he added, “but it’s not about me, because all I gotta do is go up to him, tell him he’s a great guy and all of a sudden I’m not that bad. So I took that approach and it worked.”
Admitting he’s no “f—ing Buddha,” Affleck said he does still have quite a few resentments — but knows if he didn’t let go of at least some of those grudges, he “I would have just become a f—ing bitter, miserable guy. I would have never gotten over it and I would have been unhappy.”
Affleck’s latest, “The Tender Bar,” hits theaters this weekend before dropping on Amazon Prime Video on January 7, 2022.
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