Ben Affleck has two films he’s promoting this season The George Clooney-directed The Tender Bar starring alongside Tye Sheridan in the bittersweet coming-of-age story. Affleck’s portayal of the Long Island bar-owning, advice-giving Uncle Charlie has been praised by fans and critics alike. Then we have The Last Duel. The film is set amid the Hundred Years War. Based on actual events, the movie unravels long-held assumptions about France’s last sanctioned duel between Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), two friends who became bitter rivals. Ben Affleck portrays Count Pierre d’Alençon. The box office spoke loud and clear. Bomb. But a bomb of a different color, as Affleck describes it.
So who better to discuss these conversely critiqued films than with life-long friend Matt Damon? Damon sat down with Ben Affleck for EW to discuss his career from beginning to end. While both actors got their big breaks in 1992, and obviously the tear-jerking acceptance speech at the Oscars for Good Will Hunting, they both speak of the inspiration of Richard Linklater early in their careers.
“He was a model to us as we looked around and thought for the first time, ‘Maybe we can make our own movie,’ you know? You can do Reservoir Dogs or Slacker or Clerks or Do the Right Thing. People were kind of working outside of the system, and that was inspiring.
“Look, it’s a bunch of 19-year-old kids shooting nights in a party scene in Texas. So it was barely distinguishable, the time at the hotel and the time on the set. I got to know Matthew [McConaughey] when he was first starting out. Rory [Cochrane], I stayed friends with him, he was in Argo. Anthony Rapp and Joey Lauren Adams and Renée Zellweger, it was just an abundance of riches.”
“And then it bombed. Bombed! Nobody saw the movie, but it got great reviews. I remember there was a [former EW film critic] Owen Gleiberman review saying ‘Once every decade…’ and I thought this was hyperbole. But it ended up being true, it’s a real cult movie that people still talk about and I’m glad to be a part of it. And again, I was the single unappealing character in a movie of enormously appealing people. So not a great career strength. [Laughs]”
As for the supposed ‘bomb’ of The Last Duel? Matt Damon had this to say. “Obviously it was a box office failure. But interestingly enough, it’s number one on iTunes. So it means that there is an audience, just one that was unwilling to go in the middle of a pandemic to the theater. How does that make you feel, coming out with another drama — did COVID just accelerate something that was going to take 10 or 15 years, or is it coming back?”
Affleck is probably hitting the nail on the head when he responds, “If I had to bet, a drama like Argo would not be made theatrically now. That wasn’t that long ago. It would be a limited series. I think movies in theaters are going to become more expensive, event-ized. They’re mostly going to be for younger people, and mostly about “Hey, I’m so into the Marvel Universe, I can’t wait to see what happens next.” And there’ll be 40 movies a year theatrically, probably, all IP, sequel, animated.”
As for IP’s and sequels, The Flash is scheduled to be released in the United States on November 4, 2022.