Michael Bay’s 1998 disaster epic “Armageddon” is one of the most critically reviled films of all time. But no matter, because it quadrupled its budget at the box office and now stands as something of a cracked cult classic. In a winding recent sit-down with pal and colleague Matt Damon in Entertainment Weekly supporting his new film “The Tender Bar,” Affleck reflected on the “absurd” movie, in which he plays oil driller and romantic love interest for Liv Tyler, A.J. Frost.
“They dug out two stages of Disney for huge asteroid craters, and I didn’t even think about the fact that the basic premise of the movie was totally absurd,” he said. “Why are they training oil drillers to be astronauts rather than astronauts to be oil drillers? You would think the learning curve would be somewhat more steep on the oil-drillers-to-astronauts route. But it was fun and the right time.”
But, perhaps resentfully, Affleck also recalls being forced to get “sexy” for the movie now that he was a marquee male lead and considered to be an all-around heartthrob thanks to “Good Will Hunting” (which won him and Damon a Best Screenplay Oscar).
“I was a little naive about the opinions people would form about me. Or the way in which Michael [Bay] and Jerry [Bruckheimer]’s focus on aesthetics and ‘You guys gotta go to the tanning bed!’ he said, recalling some of the specific regimen he had to undergo for the role.
“They made me fix my teeth and work out and be sexy. Be sexy, how do I do that? ‘Go to the gym!’ Running in the gym and putting oil on my body and stuff, and it just turned out to be a long-form version of one of those male topless calendars, in a garage, carrying a tire, kind of greased up. Michael had a vision of a glistening male torso in the oil, and he was like, ‘That’s going to go in the trailer and sell tickets!’ And you know, what can you say? We could have made, I think, 400 ‘Chasing Amys’ for what we made ‘Armageddon’ for.”
He added that the film is one that “my kids have watched and they’ll kind of all admit to liking, even though they relentlessly mock it, and me. ‘What are you, driving a tank on the moon?’ But they had fun, you know what I mean? They won’t even watch ‘The Town.’ So there you have it.”