Ben Affleck Dishes On His Career Rock Bottom, Rages Against 'DeflateGate' on Bill Simmons' New HBO Series
By Zach Seemayer
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Ben Affleck got candid and almost aggressively passionate on the premiere of Bill Simmons' new HBO talk show, Any Given Wednesday, where the Batman v Superman star opened up about his wild career trajectory and, of course, the New England Patriots.
While the Oscar-winning actor has been enjoying a career renaissance ever since directing the acclaimed 2007 drama Gone Baby Gone, Affleck said there was a point in time when he felt he had hit rock bottom.
"I was the lowest rung of cool and talented that you could possibly be in the public consciousness," Affleck recounted. "I had broken up with Jennifer Lopez and I had three or four movies in a row that bombed."
In the early 2000s, around the time of the infamous "Bennifer" relationship, Affleck starred in a string of critically panned and commercially unsuccessful films, including Daredevil, Gigli, Paycheck, Jersey Girl, and Surviving Christmas.
"I was so uncool, I was literally punchline in [comedian Robert Wuhl's] straight-to-United Airlines video stand-up bit," Affleck shared. "That guy had to look around and go, 'Who's below me, that I can s**t on?' And he picked me."
"He did a whole bit about me that I saw on United Airlines once, and I was like, 'Well this it! It really doesn't get much worse than this,'" he continued. "And that was kind of where I found myself when I thought, 'Hey, I want to take up directing.'"
According to the 43-year-old star, he thought at the time that directing was something filmmakers did when they wanted to be taken seriously, and he decided to focus all his efforts on getting his directorial debut off the ground to start rebuilding his reputation.
"So I was gonna work as hard as I could," Affleck shared. “I thought, 'If I'm gonna fail, I'm not gonna fail for lack of hard work,' and that became my mantra. I [was] just gonna work harder than everybody else."
"I got sort of obsessed with [working hard], and my wife was really, really instrumental in me doing a lot of that work," Affleck said, referring to his estranged spouse, Jennifer Garner.
Since Gone Baby Gone, Affleck has directed the Oscar-nominated crime drama, The Town, and the Oscar-winning political thriller, Argo, and was chosen to take on the role of the Caped Crusader in the newest Batman incarnation, beginning with 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
However, there was one project he apparently passed on, in favor of donning the Dark Knight’s cape and cowl: Star Wars.
Simmons asked Affleck whether he had actually turned down the chance to helm an installment of the epic space opera, but the star played coy, explaining, "It wouldn't be polite to talk about the jobs you turned down, but I had a lot of offers."
After delving into Affleck's life and career, Simmons finally tackled the topic that Affleck seemed to care about the most: DeflateGate.
"DeflateGate is the ultimate bulls**t f**king outrage of sports, ever! It’s so f**king stupid that I can't believe it," Affleck raged, his demeanor turning much more aggressive at the mere mention of the controversy that surrounded the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady.
Affleck, a life-long Patriots superfan, ranted passionately about the allegations that his hometown team was involved in tampering with footballs used during the 2015 AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The scandal led to Brady's suspension for four games for allegedly playing a role in the ball tampering. The NFL star was also asked to hand over his cellphone as evidence.
"I would never give an organization as leak-prone as the NFL my f**king cellphone so [they] could just look though my emails, and listen to my voice mails?" Affleck said.
According to the actor, there could have been any number of things Brady wouldn’t want people to see (or leak) from his phone. "Maybe it's funny, lovely sex messages from his wife, maybe it's just friendly messages from his wife? Maybe Tom Brady is so f**king classy and such a f**king gentleman that he doesn't want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion of some of his co-workers," Affleck suggested.
"I talk to f**king football players, pro football players. Across the board they think it’s bulls**t," he continued. "[They] haven't done anything to address this crisis of domestic violence in the NFL, but the f**king football better not be eight percent lighter."