Ben Affleck directs and stars in the upcoming big-screen drama Argo, in theaters October 12, and while talking up the project based on the '70s Iran hostage crisis, he weighs in on the ever-increasing blurring line between politics and Hollywood, calling the territory "thorny."
"For me … [having] the responsibility to give back to a country and a world that affords you a lot of opportunities is vital; it's a critical part of character," Ben tells ET's Chris Jacobs, referencing good friend George Clooney's ability to strike a balance. "Politics is a thornier thing. … I do have some strong beliefs, but they don't all hew to one side, and I think it can actually be hurtful to get too involved in politics, because what happens is you might like someone's movie but then you go, 'Well, I know he disagrees with my politics.' So that can be dicey. Some people choose to do it. I've chosen to do it at times. Others do not, and I don't begrudge either one their choice."
Ben shares his opinion on why politics and celebrity often go hand-in-hand, explaining, "Politicians, a little bit, would like to be rock stars, so getting some of that shine is a nice thing for a politician. Also, I think more importantly, people who are actors that people want to be around will draw in money. So if you are an actor and you go to an event with a politician now, that politician can raise more funds because people want to see that actor, or their kids like that actor, or whatever may be. So I think that's the root of the connection, because money is so much at the root of politics. I mean, you've got to raise a billion dollars to be president of the United States."
"Also politicians want media, and sometimes it's hard for them to get media because they're not as sexy as some singer, or what have you," he continues, saying while sometimes the political-celebrity combination can "diminish both sides," other times stars can be extremely helpful to a legitimate cause, "being advocates, working in charity, doing philanthropy." Ben himself founded the Eastern Congo Initiative, and has lent his time and efforts to help the war-torn region.
Based on a true story, Argo finds Ben as a CIA "exfiltration" specialist named Tony Mendez who comes up with an audacious plan to get the six Americans safely out of the country in the midst of the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis: devise a fake Hollywood sci-fi movie called Argo as a cover to allow a rescue team in behind enemy lines to pull it off. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies…