Ben Affleck talks ‘Live by Night,’ his friendship with Matt Damon, and more on ‘TimesTalks’

Ben Affleck talked about his new movie, Live by Night, coming out December 25, in an interview with Chip McGrath on the New York Times’ TimesTalks.

TimesTalks: Ben Aflleck

Ben Affleck is here to discuss “Live by Night,” his new film about a network of underground speakeasies in the Prohibition Era. Comment with your questions and NYT journalist Chip McGrath will ask some.

Posted by The New York Times on Monday, December 12, 2016

The actor, writer, and director said he wanted the movie, which tells the story of the Boston police superintendent’s son turning to a life of crime in the Prohibition era, to be like a “love letter to one of those ’30s, ’40s gangster movies,” aiming to transport viewers to “another time, another era, another feeling.”

Talking about the Cambridge native’s debut into film, McGrath said he was surprised to learn that Affleck had acted as a child, saying “I grew up in Boston not very far from where you did, and there were no actors and there was no acting back then, there was the Red Sox and the Bruins and neither were any good.” To which Affleck jokingly responded, “Well, some things don’t change.”


Affleck also talked about his friendship with Matt Damon, whom he grew up with. The Academy Award winner told McGrath that Damon came out to Los Angeles to stay with him in 1996 with an idea in mind, one that would ultimately lead to the creation of Good Will Hunting.

“And he said, ‘I want to write a movie where I’m a genius’ and I was like, ‘I bet you do, what else happens in your movie where you’re a genius?’ and he talked me into writing a movie where he was a genius,” Affleck said. “So it panned out!”

In between jabs at Damon’s age, Affleck shared a memory of Robin Williams at the time of the filming of Good Will Hunting.

“He had three weeks on our movie and he came down there and he said, ‘So guys, I want you guys to take me to like a real Boston bar.’ It was the worst idea he’s ever had. So we took him to this bar in South Boston and literally caused a riot,” Affleck said. “He got mobbed.”

The actor also took the opportunity to give a shout-out to Manchester by the Sea, the new movie that stars his brother, Casey Affleck, while reminiscing about their childhoods.


“He and I both did community theater and we both had a really influential high school theater teacher, a guy named Gerry Speca, who taught theater at Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school, and he was the principal influence for me, and for Matt Damon, and for my brother,” Affleck said.

Affleck told McGrath that Speca taught them acting could be “important, substantial, and meaningful” work that could lead to a legitimate career.

When asked about the possibility of running for office, the actor said he thought it was quite noble to be in public service but that he has become disillusioned with the current state of politics.

“Although I will say that the one great thing about November 2016 is that I all of a sudden became qualified to run for president,” Affleck said to an outburst of applause from the audience.


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