Copyright: Griffin Lipson/The New York Times.

Two-time Academy Award winner Ben Affleck joined Times journalist Chip McGrath for an intimate conversation on Affleck’s career and upcoming film “Live by Night,” an epic, unflinching tale of the making and unmaking of a gangster in the Prohibition Era. 

The movie is based on a novel by  Dennis Lehane and it is about a guy who becomes disappointed with a life as a  soldier in the First World War and comes back home and decides that he does not want to follow anyone’s orders anymore and that he is going to be an outlaw. Essentially, the protagonist chooses to create his own morality as an outlaw at the time when the government did a tricky thing which was to turn millions of Americans who were perfectly law abiding citizens into criminals overnight when prohibition happened. So the criminalization of America was happening at the same time he has decided to become an outlaw. The film has a feel of the gangster movie of the 30s. Using the grammar of contemporary era, Ben Affleck wanted this to be a classing movie and it did not take long to convince Warner Brothers to join him in creating this period drama.

On the film, Affleck said:

I wanted to pay homage to those movies, not only in the 30s and 40s, but the 60s and 70s as well – one of those crowd pleasing, big, blockbuster movies – something with big costumes, and a lot of extras, and great sets, that transported you to another time, another era, another feeling…”

Reflecting on his early interest in acting, Ben Affleck said that it came from his father who was in theater and writing. In fact, his father worked with all these great actors of the 60s who became famous like Dustin Hoffman and John Voight. One of the anecdotes Affleck mentioned was when he went to Hollywood,  while he was walking down the red carpet for the Good Will Hunting, Dustin Hoffman came to him and said: “I know your father!”

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon grew up just a few blocks from each other in Boston. They were both interested in acting and they used to audition for all kinds of stuff.

Affleck started writing Good Will Hunting in 1992 when in his sophomore year in college he decided to move to L.A. and Matt Damon told him: “I would like to make a movie in which I will be a genius”.  That’s how they started working on Good Will Hunting. The Oscar came as a quantum leap for two young men who just a year before in 1996 was watching the Oscars from their living room in Summerville, Massachusetts.

”Live by Night,” from Warner Bros. Pictures, opens limited December 25th and nationwide on January 13, 2017.

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