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by Jay A. Fernandez
November 16, 2012 9:35 AM
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Ben Affleck Describes Terrence Malick's "Half-Crazy" Methods and Competing With Trees for 'To the Wonder' Camera Time in GQ

Olga Kurylenko and Ben Affleck in "To the Wonder" TIFF
Ben Affleck is one of the few movie stars to have managed to carve out a space in his public persona that allows him to speak more truthfully than many of his peers. Maybe it’s because he knows he can’t get criticized more or fall lower than he did during his “Gigli”-Jennifer Lopez phase. Or maybe it’s because we’ve watched him mature as an actor, director, husband and father, and he carries seriousness like an adult now.

Whatever the reason, Affleck said a few things during an interview with Chris Heath for GQ that are surprisingly candid -- the kind of bald assessments that more people in Hollywood should be encouraged to give. Here are some of the best beats:

Affleck is not afraid to say that Terrence Malick’s work, including the romantic drama he starred in this year, “To the Wonder,” is not for everyone: “I understand it got booed quite thoroughly at [the Venice Film Festival]. Honestly, you have to want to see that movie -- there's hardly any talking. It's a tone poem. If you don't want to see that, you should not go."

READ MORE: Toronto Review: Why 'To the Wonder' Is Terrence Malick's Most Accessible Work in Years

Before casting Affleck in “Wonder,” Malick told the actor, “Just more and more I'm more interested in silences," and suggested he look to Gary Cooper for inspiration -- but not the one who talks, the Cooper who “just stares off.”

'Argo' Warner Bros.
To create the L.A. sections of “Argo,” Affleck admits he “totally ripped off” John Cassavetes’ 1976 crime drama “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.”

READ MORE: Telluride Review: Ben Affleck Broadens His Directing Skills With the Tense, Entertaining Period Piece 'Argo'

Affleck notes that he picked up important directing tips from Malick about the effective use of natural light and how to stay flexible enough to shoot on the fly.

It was only well into the eight-week “Wonder” shoot in Oklahoma that Affleck says he got any inkling of what Malick was doing: "The experience of it seemed half-crazy in that we didn't really have dialogue, so I didn't really know what was happening. Then I realized that he was accumulating colors that he would use to paint with later in the editing room. My character doesn't really do that much. It was kind of a wash for me in terms of learning something as an actor, because Terry uses actors in a different way -- he'll [have the camera] on you and then tilt up and go up to a tree, so you think, 'Who's more important in this -- me or the tree?' But you don't ask him, because you don't want to know the answer."

Check out the full story at GQ.

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3 Comments

  • Jordan | November 16, 2012 3:29 PMReply

    "What is this opposing power in nature? Why does nature vie with itself?" You are the tree Affleck.

  • Jordan | November 16, 2012 6:53 PM

    "opposing force" rather

  • [A] | November 16, 2012 10:35 AMReply

    I'm a big fan of late-era Affleck. He needs to direct more movies, more often (and not always cast himself as the lead, try different talents)