In a new interview for Playboy discusses the Batman backlash, working with Jennifer, making some bad film choices and more. Here are some clips regarding Jennifer … I appreciate his candidness about discussing the paparazzi.
PLAYBOY: You’re a decade removed from Gigli, when focus on your romantic relationship with Jennifer Lopez hurt your career. Back then, who helped you figure out how to climb out of the hole?
AFFLECK: That hole was a series of movies that didn’t work and one in particular that was widely mocked because it had a funny name and overlapped with the tabloid situation. It became a perfect storm. Then Paycheck was mediocre, Surviving Christmas was bad, and I sunk into a morass. I thought, Okay, I want to get out of this. My wife was definitely around then. Getting to know her, falling in love with her and being connected with her gave me a foundation to reach out and say, Okay, I’m going to do Hollywoodland; I’m going to direct Gone Baby Gone. Those were the steps forward I needed to put positive stuff on the board. She is by leaps and bounds the most important person to me in that respect. Over the past 10 years she has allowed me to have a stable home life while accomplishing my professional goals.
PLAYBOY: She bolstered your confidence?
AFFLECK: I was frustrated. A lot of smart people out there made choices they thought would work on some of these movies. Some of it is luck. Everybody has movies that don’t work; I just had a run of them. But I also looked at it and said, “I didn’t work hard enough. I wasn’t diligent enough. I wasn’t dedicated enough.” I made that realization. But once I’d made it, the most critical thing was that she said, “If you’re going to work 24 hours a day, that’s cool. I’m going to be here.” That allowed me to think, Okay, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to kill myself over this next period of time.
PLAYBOY: Your relationship with Jennifer Garner came after a very public engagement to Jennifer Lopez. Both your relationships were tabloid fodder.
AFFLECK: The crucible by flashbulb. It was magazines then, and those days are more or less gone. Now it’s online, but it’s the same thing. At the nadir of that I felt I was being treated worse than Scott Peterson, who at least got the benefit of the word alleged when they talked about him.
PLAYBOY: He’s the guy who——
AFFLECK: Murdered his wife and tossed her over the side of a boat. The point is I felt like I was at the bottom. I became the guy people could kick around, even if they hadn’t seen the movie, because they saw other people taking shots. I thought it was unfair. But some of those people later wrote nice things about my work. I’ve learned not to take it personally.
PLAYBOY: But often it is personal.
AFFLECK: Once I saw my way out of it, I said, You know what? I don’t even care anymore. I’m going to focus on my job. I don’t give a shit. Take my picture. Write what you want to write. At the end of the day, what you write in a gossip column doesn’t matter. What matters is how the movie works. I found out it doesn’t kill you. But once I thought I had that figured out, I started having kids. And that is when I drew the line.
PLAYBOY: What is the line?
AFFLECK: You can say what you want about me. You can yell at me with a video camera and be TMZ. You can follow me around and take pictures all you want. I don’t care. There are a couple of guys outside right now. Terrific. That’s part of the deal. But it’s wrong and disgusting to follow children around and take their picture and sell it for money. It makes the kids less safe. They used to take pictures of our children coming out of preschool, and so this stalker who had threatened to kill me, my wife and our kids showed up at the school and got arrested. I mean, there are real practical dangers to this.
PLAYBOY: How close did he get?
AFFLECK: He was in the pack of paparazzi. They didn’t know he was a guy who was threatening to murder our family. That makes me angry. It’s a safety thing, and there’s also a sanity thing. My kids aren’t celebrities. They never made that bargain. We were offered a lot of money to sell pictures of our kids when they were born. You’ll notice there aren’t any. I make no judgment about people who decide differently; a lot of them give the money to charity. For me it was a matter of principle. I didn’t want someone to be able to come back and say I was complicit, that it wasn’t a question of principle as much as price.
PLAYBOY: You didn’t want to be a hypocrite.
AFFLECK: As their father it’s my job to protect them from that stuff. I try my very best, and sometimes I’m successful. The tragic thing is, people who see those pictures naturally think it’s sweet. They don’t see the gigantic former gang member with a huge lens standing over a four-year-old and screaming to get the kid’s attention. The kids are always looking down because they’re freaked out and scared of these people. And so they yell. Which is fine if you’re Lindsay Lohan coming out of a club, or me or any adult. With kids it’s tasteless at best. A lot of these photographs are being bought by legitimate magazines. In the U.K. they have a good system: If you take a kid’s picture, you have to blur out the face. It protects the privacy of children, any child. I wish we would do that here, though I don’t expect it. When my wife met with California lawmakers to get legislation passed to establish a certain distance between paparazzi and children and also to prevent the stalking behavior on the part of the paparazzi, she was opposed by the association of magazine and newspaper folks. They said it would have a chilling effect on the way the news was covered. You couldn’t chill the internet coverage of celebrities if you tried.
PLAYBOY: But do you understand why the press would worry about infringements on the First Amendment?
AFFLECK: I think the First Amendment and the public’s right to know are adequately served by photographers who are at least 100 feet away. They all have 300-millimeter lenses. I’m a photographer myself, and I can tell you with complete confidence that you can get a fine picture. I understand we won’t be able to prevent them from taking photos of children or get them to blur the faces, even though I think that would be preferable. But at the very least there should be a bubble of safety. We do that at football games: You can’t just come on the field. We do that with politicians: You can’t photograph the president from any distance you want.
PLAYBOY: You took a lot of heat for making movies with Jennifer Lopez when you were a couple. Is that why you and your wife don’t work together?
AFFLECK: Yes. Well, my wife and I made Pearl Harbor and Daredevil. With our track record, I don’t know if anyone’s looking for a three-quel.
PLAYBOY: You’re not Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn?
AFFLECK: Exactly. I think it doesn’t work. It’s already hard to get people to suspend disbelief, and then you have married couples in the same movie. People know about the marriage, and they’re not willing to acknowledge the couple as anything else. And marriage is boring to people. They say, “I’m married 20 years. I love my wife, but I have that at home.” People want to see the kindling of new romance in movies. It’s exciting, but not when it’s a couple they know has been together for 10 years.