Forget about the bedroom: Steamy thriller “Deep Water” had the most action in the backyard.
Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas star as a disillusioned married couple in the Hulu film directed by Adrian Lyne, now streaming. And while their chemistry was palpable onscreen, Affleck had a natural connection with another co-star: his character’s snail collection.
According to snail wrangler Max Anton, Affleck was “exceptionally good” with the creatures.
“Ben was fantastic to work with. He’s a great listener,” Anton told Entertainment Weekly. “And you can tell that when he does his scenes, he will take instructions. He understands them, and usually, he can nail it the first time. He was exceptionally good with my animals. We didn’t lose a single one.”
He continued, “I showed Ben how to handle the snails. I would put them directly on his hand. And then when the scene ended, I’d run up and take the snail off of his hand with my left hand and put a rag in his hand with the right hand so he could get the slime off.”
Anton even had to “pray” for certain snails to mate in scenes to add to the sexy vibe of the erotic thriller, especially since the snails wouldn’t take direction from “Fatal Attraction” director Lyne.
“When [the production asked], ‘Can you make them mate?’ I said, ‘We’ll see what happens.’ These animals, you can’t train them,” Anton said. “Before each scene, I’d step off for a minute and I’d pray about it. And I’d say, ‘Look, Lord, these are your animals.’ I just kind of gave it up to Him and they performed better than I could have possibly predicted.”
The only hitch proved to be getting de Armas past her squeamishness with the gastropods.
“She did not have to fake her look of revulsion,” Anton said. “I don’t know if she hated the snails, but she did not want to touch them.”
He added, “I was trying to put her at ease. I said, ‘You know in ‘Knives Out,’ you were working with Captain America. He’s a lot scarier than these animals.’ She said, ‘I’m not scared of it, I just think they’re gross.'”
And just to be safe, the Humane Society was on set the whole time, “poised to strike in case even a single wafer-thin shell got cracked or damaged,” according to Anton.
The one particular scene of snail violence, at the foot of de Armas? Just an empty shell with vinegar and baking soda for an artificial slime.
“It was kind of a last-minute thing,” Anton said of the core symbol throughout the film. “They’re just a straightforward animal. There’s no guile about them. And in the book and in the movie, I hope this came through, the fidelity of these two snails…they were a foil for Ben and Ana’s characters. Even these dumb animals, these very simple animals, without even really brains, as you know, by definition, exhibited the kind of love and fidelity that these humans were seemingly incapable of. The draw of the snails, for Ben’s character, is that it’s almost like peering into a world that he desires and he can’t have.”
“Deep Water” is currently available on Hulu.