Ben Affleck spoke with the Los Angeles Times to ostensibly promote his latest movie, The Tender Bar (currently streaming on Amazon Prime.) But as if taking cues from the George Clooney-directed film, in which chatty fellas are itching to spill their guts, the conversation went to some real places concerning Affleck’s recent time beneath the cape and cowl.
The paper described Affleck as “feeling wrung out” after 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and 2017’s follow-up debacle, Justice League, with the big-budget tentpoles coming to represent a low point in the actor’s life.
“It was really Justice League that was the nadir for me,” Affleck said.
“That was a bad experience because of a confluence of things: my own life, my divorce, being away too much, the competing agendas and then [director] Zack [Snyder]’s personal tragedy [Snyder’s daughter Autumn died by suicide in 2017] and the reshooting,” Affleck continued, according to the outlet. “It just was the worst experience. It was awful. It was everything that I didn’t like about this. That became the moment where I said, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.’”
After Justice League’s tumultuous production, Affleck stepped away from directing and starring in The Batman, which has since been shot with Robert Pattinson in the lead and Matt Reeves at the helm and will be released this March. “I looked at it and thought, ‘I’m not going to be happy doing this. The person who does this should love it.’”
While Affleck’s disenchantment with the role seems to have stemmed primarily from the difficulties in his life at the time (such as the end of his marriage with Jennifer Garner), other performers have said that working with Snyder’s replacement, Joss Whedon, was less-than-ideal.
Justice League cast member Ray Fisher went public with accusations against Whedon for “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” behavior. Co-star Jason Momoa gave support to Fisher’s claim (“serious stuff went down”), and Gal Gadot later added that Whedon “threatened her career” during production. As V.F. previously noted, WarnerMedia launched an investigation and said they took “remedial action.” Though never saying it was due to the Justice League swirl of controversy, HBO (under the same corporate umbrella as Warner Bros.) and Whedon parted ways on his project The Nevers during that time. (Whedon issued “a statement saying he was stepping back due to the complications of making the show under quarantine conditions,” according to V.F.)
Whatever Affleck’s feelings, he’s not taking them out on Bruce Wayne. He will return, albeit likely in a small role, as one of many Batmen in the forthcoming, universe-hopping superhero flick The Flash. (As will Michael Keaton, who starred in the Oscar-winning film Birdman, which is, ironically, all about an actor who doesn’t want to go back and play a superhero again!)
Elsewhere in the interview, Affleck talks about being wowed by how his gal pal Jennifer Lopez uses social media and how he is aware of (and has mixed feelings about) the Sad Affleck meme. He also says that even though he is now sober (he has been open about his past alcohol addiction), he’d like to get into the game of selling booze. “I’ve just got to figure out,” he mused, “what’s my angle? ‘I don’t drink but if I did….’ Every time I joke about that, alcoholics laugh.”
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