Ben Affleck can't do anything quietly. He stars in big hits or big flops and everyone's on his case. He gets engaged, married or becomes a father and the media is all over him. He directs a movie and the critical praise is overwhelming. At least the latter kind of publicity is what Affleck wants.
Affleck Directs Gone Baby Gone
"I would prefer it was less about my own the rest of my life," said Affleck. "I would like the attention paid to directing and the movie. I think that's really interesting. I don’t like the idea of all this other kind of stuff. One of the reasons why I like directing is it's really just more about filmmaking and not being out in front of it with stuff that I think was kind of sort of silly. Ben Affleck the director's okay."
Gone Baby Gone is based on Dennis Lehane's book about a child kidnapping that leads to an investigation on police corruption. Becoming a father may have contributed to the moral ambiguity Affleck injected into the film. "I think my opinions about the moral dilemmas sort of shifted a lot back and forth as I kind of went through it. They went back and forth more times than just because I had my daughter. Being a father made my opinions change from academic ones to emotional ones. In other words, they were like intellectual exercises, and then actually having a child allowed me to identify in an emotional way with children and people who have children. Whereas beforehand, it was harder for me to do that."
The one aspect of the film where Affleck decided to curb his own feelings was in its portrayal of the media. "I think I really scaled back on that from the book because Lehane really hammers the media in the book. I thought I can't do too much of this because in a weird way, it was one of the ways that my own hand might start to feel visible in the movie. You might start to go, 'Oh, okay, here he is taking a shot at the media.' There is this element in this movie about how something about these tragedies does engender a kind of frenzy in the media. We all get very invested in them. I think one of the things that's suggested a little bit more in the book than in the movie really is that I didn't quite get into but it's about people looking at the television at the Jonbennet Ramsey case for example, at the expense perhaps of looking around. What I took from the book a little bit that I didn't really want to get into in the movie was I felt like there was something to the idea of there was a lot of scandal stuff on the TV and there wasn't a lot of stuff on the TV that was about how best to raise your child. Like 'Hey, this is what's good for children.'"
Affleck cast his brother Casey in the film's lead, but it was not nepotism. He would not blow his one shot at directing to give little bro a gig. "I was making this choice, as I think it's clear to anyone now, on the fact that he's obviously the right guy for the role and was great. But the argument I was going to make was here's a guy who just got a really contested role in this movie Jesse James and is going to be really good and it's going to come out and people are going to see it and he's going to be known for that, which has kind of happened from the movie. It was a dice roll because you never really know but it certainly was a part that everybody wanted."
Miramax is releasing Gone Baby Gone but it is not the same Miramax that gave Affleck his first break with Good Will Hunting. "It is Miramax but it was Disney in the sense that the Weinsteins had just left. So they were leaving and they were packing up their movies they wanted to take with them. Disney bought it to put it into Miramax after the Weinsteins left and the Weinsteins didn't have a company then. They hadn't raised their money so they couldn't buy any projects. So had they been capitalized, I suppose they could have been in the market to try to buy it in turnaround but they weren't so there wasn't even really that option. But these guys at Disney, and it was done as Miramax and I think part of it was they were starting up their new Miramax and they wanted to have a new Miramax."