As mentioned in the previous post, Ben Affleck actually sounded pretty lucid during his appearance on Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons before Tom Brady came up in conversation and he felt the need to go full Perry Mason in support of his friend with the potentially shady cell phone. Ben talked about his professional prospects after his relationship with Jennifer Lopez, how it ate at him that he had become a punchline:
“If you went by what people said… I wasn’t cool and I wasn’t talented, and I was like the lowest rung of cool and talented that you could possibly be in the public consciousness at that time. I had broken up with Jennifer Lopez and I had like three or four movies in a row that had bombed. I was so uncool that I was literally a punchline in… Arliss’s straight to United Airlines video standup bit. So that guy had to look around and go ‘Who’s below me that I can sh-t on?’ and he picked me. He did a whole bit about me that I saw on United Airlines and I [thought] ‘This is it, it really doesn’t get much worse than this.’ That was where I found myself when I thought ‘hey I want to take up directing,’ which is for people that are taken seriously. That became my mantra ‘I’m just going to work harder than everybody else…’ My wife was really instrumental and helpful in me doing a lot of that work because I was just so focused [on it] and it was harder to balance family and all that.”
She is. Technically she is. Because they’re definitely not divorced. So is it merely an issue of wording? What do you call the person you’re technically still married to but supposedly officially separated from? Is the use of “wife” in this context simply a matter of convenience and habit? Habit is an interesting word here too. Where he’s concerned, habit is always a word. In this case, the habit of their lives together, balancing the habitual necessity of lifestyle for their family while negotiating the process of consciously uncoupling – how do you find the balance in that so that you can transition from spouses to friends? Gwyneth Paltrow might have some answers. But that was a breakup that we now know was, in the end, a clear break. Has there been a clear break between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner? Does he want there to be?
Before this appearance on Any Given Wednesday, Ben was working on the upswing of his familiar cycle of self-sabotage to rock bottom to redemption, and repeat. He’s currently directing Live By Night which wasn’t supposed to be released until Fall 2017. This week, however, it was announced that Warner Bros will release Live By Night on January 13, 2017. That doesn’t sound promising, a January theatrical debut, but some are speculating that that’s the wide release date and that Live By Night will actually come out in limited release in December (not unlike The Revenant’s schedule) which is award season positioning. And if that ends up being true, it means the studio has a lot of confidence in this picture, thinks it could be part of an award season conversation. On top of that, there are now rumours that Ben’s other film, The Accountant, will open the Toronto International Film Festival. Joanna sent me this tweet this morning and there are others like it:
Chazelle's 'La La Land' is opening the Venice Film Festival! Speaking of festivals, rumour has it 'The Accountant' is opening TIFF. True?— Matt (@onpopculture) June 17, 2016
So, before last night, there was momentum. Another Ben Affleck comeback was in motion. And that’s where he thrives. That’s his rush. To fall from grace, as he said to Bill Simmons, and “work harder than anyone else” to get back up to the top, he gets off on it. Making mountains to climb just might be Ben’s greatest addiction. He was on his way.
But today we’re talking about all his slurry “f-cks” while in defence of Tom Brady. Is that a setback? It’s June. I don’t think it’s a setback. Especially not when he still has his secret weapon: his “wife”. But what will it take to get her to play?
Attached - Ben Affleck on the set of Live By Night and Jennifer Garner leaving the gym yesterday in LA.