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Interview With Ben Affleck

Aired March 16, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Ben Affleck, from sexiest man alive to tabloid target. Now back to being Hollywood's most eligible bachelor. His life, his loves, his career, his relationships. We'll cover it all. We'll take your phone calls. My man Ben for the hour next. On LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Great pleasure to finally welcome him to the show -- years ago we met, and you said you were coming on.

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: I know. I was true to my word. It's just a little bit delayed. Thank you very much. It's good to be here. I'm a big fan of the show.

KING: And me of you. Ben has said that "Jersey Girl" is a film you're proud of. Let me say something. We don't editorialize on this show. I saw "Jersey Girl" last week. It opens a week from Friday, the 26th, I believe. This is a terrific movie. It's about fathers and daughters. It's funny. It's sad. It covers a lot of ground. He's terrific. George Carlin's great. The little girl, where did you find her?

AFFLECK: She's fabulous. They just cast her from Long Island, but she's amazing.

KING: J.Lo has a short part but a key part. Who's the other girl, Liv Tyler?

AFFLECK: She's terrific.

KING: "Jersey Girl" is a great movie.

AFFLECK: Thank you very much. I'm glad you like it. I'm really proud of it. I think it's the best movie I've ever done. I'm really really proud of it. I've been friends with the director Kevin Smith for a long time so obviously...

KING: Did he write it with you in mind, your role?

AFFLECK: We talked about it. I had done an action movie, and he had done kind of a broader comedy, and we both talked about wanting to get back -- want to go do something like what we started off doing, a smaller story, sort of more heartfelt story. And he went out and wrote it at my urging. And then, you know, started sending me pages, and I thought it was great. And so it was really nice.

KING: Who came up with the idea of George carlin as the father?

AFFLECK: That was Kevin. George Carlin had a small part in the movie called "Dogma" that we did, and Kevin really got along with George and knew him really well. One of the things he knew about George was that George always wanted to be a serious actor. He sort of got into comedy as a way to get into show business, and he was obviously one of the great comedians and that career took off. But he takes acting very seriously, and he wanted to do that. I think this will show people that he can do that, and he'll do more roles. He's actually a wonderful guy and a really very smart guy.

KING: You are not a father?


KING: How did you like playing one, and how did it go -- W.C. Fields (ph) said never work with a kid.

AFFLECK: Yes, he did. Kids and animals, in fact. You never, he never met Raquel Castro, is all I can say. We had a wonderful experience with her. I don't know that it necessarily made me want to be a father as much as I just -- I felt like I got all the easy part. I got to play with the kid, with the infants and with Raquel and have all the good sides of it. I didn't, you know, have to get no sleep or change any diapers or deal with any tantrums or anything. It definitely made it -- I always want to have kids, and that's still something I want to do. So we'll see.

KING: Did you -- did it work out -- did the script play out the way you want? In other words, were you happy from original reading to finished product?

AFFLECK: I was. It really was one of those movies that was pretty consistent from the very beginning. It ended up having to be shorter ultimately because most -- that's a process most movies go through. But it was one of those kind of charmed things where there was stuff in it that's exactly from the first draft to the finished product.

KING: Do you fear that critics, based on the nature of the time you've had with them, are going to pick on you no matter what you do? Because I was fearing that someone's going to say, well, this picture is too sentimental.

AFFLECK: Well, I'm sure they will. I'm sure some -- that's why people are critics. They define things to be critical of and to criticize. It's not something that I pay a lot of attention to. You know, oftentimes I think critics adopt positions where they feel they're sort of like I have to be an advocate for certain kind of movies, therefore, I can't support other kinds of movies. Or oftentimes it becomes an exercise in being witty and funny and cute.

KING: How do you handle it?

AFFLECK: You know, I just don't read reviews. I never have.

KING: Really?

AFFELCK: When I was starting out, I talked to Robert De Niro once who told me he never read any of his reviews, and I talked to Morgan Freeman about it, too, and he never read his reviews. These are two arguably of the greatest actors that I've ever seen. And it kind of made an impression on me, and I think because it can be distracting and you can second guess yourself. Ultimately, really, movie reviews are written for -- they're either written for the critics themselves or they're written to help an audience decide whether or not they want to see a movie. They're not particularly designed to be constructive to you as a performer.

KING: You've never heard a critic that said something that you could say, boy, that was -- I should have done that.

AFFLECK: There are a few critics that I've read, you know, of other movies that I thought this is interesting. For the most part, it's mostly like finding cute ways to say a movie was bad. And then, you know, there are a few movies every year that get sort of lavished with an excess of critical praise because they become the movie, the counter movie or the movie to like. I mean, at the end of the day, I mean, you look at "The Passion of the Christ," for example, here's a movie that the secular entertainment intelligence and press and the urbane sophisticat sort of pooh-poohed and panned and said it was ridiculous and hated and then it goes on to be monumentally successful. So I think there's oftentimes a disconnect. Most of the time, when I read reviews of movies, of other people's movies, and I often disagree with them. I just don't find them helpful. What's the point?

KING: Did you like the "Passion?"

AFFLECK: I haven't seen it yet. I've been too busy running around. I'm really looking forward to seeing it. I think it will be interesting. I think it's a movie that's obviously engendered -- part of the movie's success has to be that it's created kind of a controversy. This very dynamic, where you want to be able to have an opinion about it to talk to somebody about it.

KING: Do you like Gibson as a filmmaker?

AFFLECK: I think gibson is an enormously talented filmmaker.

KING: You had a lot of success fast. You and Matt with "Good Will Hunting," you win an Oscar, best original screen play.

AFFLECK: It didn't seem that way. We started off when we were 17, 16 running around. It was nine years, at the time was a pretty good portion of our lives, struggling, auditioning, being broke, never getting a job. It always looks like it's overnight to the outside because one night we've heard of somebody, and the next night we haven't heard of somebody and the next night we have. But for us, there was, you know, a process. And a build to it. And then all of a sudden, it sort of -- there was like a tipping point, and then it all kind of happened, which was a lot to deal with.

KING: There's some surprises in "Jersey Girl," one I won't tell you because it will spoil a terrific ending to the movie. But there's one scene I can tell you because Matt Damon is in it. Was this kind of like friends, come on over and play this one thing?

AFFLECK: It's like, you know, obviously, Matt and I are buddies, and Matt and Kevin know each other and work together. We called him and said, would you come in and play this part. It's one of those things that's funny for the audience too because they recognize Matt, but he's in this part where basically I'm coming to ask him for a job, and he thinks it's ridiculous, and he's not going to hire me. It's fun and nice. The whole community of this movie was people I had worked with before, and that I knew and cared about as friends. It was a really comfortable and nice environment.

KING: We'll talk about it again later. We'll show you clips from it. It's great -- again, if you don't like it, take your pulse. You've passed away. I want to cover a lot of bases. We'll take care of the easy one first. Get that over with.


KING: Is it difficult when your private life is front page?

KING: Yes. I mean, I think it's difficult to a certain extent. I mean, it's difficult for a couple of different ways. Because of the ways in which it then impacts the things which are really important. That in and of itself isn't really relevant one way or another ultimately, right? If you're on the cover of -- you see we have all these headlines. If you're on the cover of these magazines and there's some falsehoods that were printed as well.

KING: That's what I want to get to. Do you get used to?

AFFLECK: You sort of get accustomed to it. There's two ways it can be damaging. One if it then impacts on your actual life. That can be destructive. And you have to create a set of circumstances and a life where you have some separation from that, where you don't take it so personally, where people recognize it as largely fictitious and irrelevant.

And second of all, it can be destructive, I think, professionally speaking because, as an actor, you spend a lot of time trying to create, trying to get an audience to suspend their disbelief. You try to get them to believe this imaginary situation we sat around filming is in fact -- is real. And anything that takes them out of that where they say, oh, I know this guy because I saw him in his real life putting quarters in the parking meter last week, and the next week he was getting coffee, he was in all the magazines, it just makes your job harder as an actor.

KING: Does it also affect the relationship?

AFFLECK: I think it can if you're really...

KING: Did it affect yours?

AFFLECK: It didn't affect mine because it's something that Jen and I -- Jen is sophisticated and understood how the press works and didn't -- neither of us took that too personally. Oftentimes it was a source of amusement. If anything else, the things that -- if anything, the things that would affect would be other people, like somebody in the family or my mother calling up and saying the custodian at the building read this article about you and said -- I'm saying, mom, that's not. That stuff is not true. You've got to understand that. But it's hard for some people to accept. But it's printed right here. They say so right here. How could it not be true?

KING: Ben Affleck's our guest as we go to break. A scene from "Jersey Girl."



AFFLECK: Get in the bathroom.


AFFLECK: Hi, honey. You remember Maya from the video store?


AFFLECK: You know what the best part of my day is?

For about 10 seconds, from what I pull up to the curb to when I get to your door, because I think maybe I'll get up there and I'll knock on the door and you won't be there. No good-bye, no see you later, no nothing. You just left. I don't know much, but I know that.


KING: That was some movie.

AFFLECK: That was fun.

KING: Our guest is Ben Affleck. Lots of things to talk about. I want to get rid of the J.Lo thing quick.


KING: Who broke up with whom?

Someone asked me today, who broke up with who?

they get involved in your life.

AFFLECK: They do. Isn't that interesting?

Was it somebody I knew or just somebody... KING: No. A friend of mine. You got Ben Affleck on. Who broke up with who?

AFFLECK: Like many relationships, Larry, it was a little bit more complicated than being able to -- you may be familiar with this. You know, sometimes it's as simple as one person breaking up with somebody else, and sometimes it's more complicated than that. And this was -- the latter was the case with this one.

KING: The latter, more complicated.

AFFLECK: More complicated than being able to be distilled into one or the other.

KING: Are you friends?

AFFLECK: We are friends. I speak to her frequently. And you know, I root for her, and I appreciate and admire Jen. I did before, and I still do now as somebody who's enormously hard working talented woman. Never had a single break, you know what I mean?

Wasn't somebody who grew up in a place or looking a way where people say, oh, this person's destined for success. What she did, she did on her own and on her talent and her merit. And I think too often, people, particularly women, are begrudged that and not appreciated it. She's a Horatio Alger story.

KING: Therefore the attention you got from all this had nothing to do with the breakup?

AFFLECK: No, it couldn't have made it easy. It certainly doesn't help you live a normal, stable life. And, you know, look, relationships are difficult propositions under any circumstances. They involve a balance between two people trying to navigate and negotiate and, you know, love one another. And there are a lot of difficulties in everyday life. Those are magnified when it's that degree of scrutiny all the time.

KING: Do you think it's more difficult when both people are in high profile spots?

You dated also Gwyneth Paltrow, who's a terrific girl?

AFFLECK: I did. I did. She's a wonderful women. And she -- was a lesser -- similar to that but to a lesser degree. That's why I figured I had -- you know, I knew what was coming because I'd been through it before. Of course, little did I know.

KING: Why do you think it got so out of hand?

AFFLECK: I really don't know.

KING: Because it boggled me. Why did it...

AFFLECK: I don't know.

KING: I mean, the two of you are nice people.

AFFLECK: You'd have to ask the editors at CNN. I don't know. People -- I think what happens in the media -- here's what I think happened. Is that this relationship coincided with the situation in the media where you have say surfeit of outlets, right. You have an excess of magazines and television programs that are catering to a customer that they think wants entertainment news. And then as you have more people competing for the same piece of pie, they get more strident, and the headlines get splashier, and things get bolder in an effort to get attention. And you know, we just happened to be the couple that was around while they was this was sort of happening.

KING: Timing?


KING: One other thing. The new "US" magazine reports that Jennifer will give her engagement ring back to Ben for closure.

AFFLECK: It's amazing. That's complete speculation. It's not even -- you know, we're not at a place where even Jen and I have discussed every single detail of what's going to happen in our...

KING: What's supposed to happen when a relationship ends?

Are you supposed to get a ring back, by the way?

AFFLECK: It's not an experience I've had before, Larry. I couldn't tell you. Is there any...

KING: Do you expect it back?

AFFLECK: I expect that anything that you give somebody, you give them with the idea that it's a gift. And so I don't believe in expecting anything back.

KING: Has this made you a little shy in the fact that in future relationships you will shy away from profile people?

AFFLECK: Yes, I think so. I would imagine so. But it's hard because you also imagine any sort of sane person who's not -- who's lucky enough to have a relatively normal life then wouldn't want to be swept into something. Although I have to assume that in the future it probably won't be the same kind of situation as this.

KING: But you meet high profile people, right?

AFFLECK: I meet high profile people sometimes, but they also tend to be, on average, crazier than your average person. Let's face it. Let's be honest. But, you know, it's -- you can't plan it. I don't think you can plan your romantic life around -- people who try to make those things around practical concerns. If we all did that, we'd all have arranged marriages or something.

KING: Do you want to marry someday?

Do you want to have children?

Do you want to be a father?

AFFLECK: That's something I want to do, sure. Ultimately, yes.

KING: Do you want to do things other than act?

AFFLECK: Yes, definitely. For one thing, I'd like to direct a movie and I'd like to continue to write. I'd like to do some of that more than I have been in the past. I'm finding that more interesting than acting right now. And ultimately, there's a part of me that would like to work in politics and participate in that in some way.

KING: Running?

AFFLECK: I'm not sure it would be as a candidate. I mean, I can't imagine anything worse than being a candidate in a political campaign. I mean, you just -- I know what it's like to have my life laid bare. It's unpleasant. I wouldn't want to have to do that. And you know, it's mostly raising money, being a candidate too.

KING: Do you give credit to people who do run?

AFFLECK: I think it's enormously admirable. Absolutely, for the reasons I said. I think you really have to put yourself out there as a tremendous sacrifice. Your family goes through a enormously difficult time. If you're successful, you've doomed your family to a somewhat aberrant, abnormal existence, but it's public service. Nobody's getting rich doing it. I do think it's admirable.

KING: Are you going to support Kerry?

AFFLECK: I will support -- yes, I am and have been a Democrat for, I imagine, the foreseeable future. And Kerry obviously looks to be the nominee, so I'll be supporting him, you know. I'm also not a rabidly partisan guy. I have a lot of friends who are Republicans, a partner of mine, Tom Clancy, who we were talking about over the break.

KING: Tom is a friend of yours, and he's a rabid Republican.

AFFLECK: I believe more in people than political parties. I think when anybody gets too dogmatic in terms of this is my one set of beliefs and you have to tow the party line. I know some pretty exceptional people who are Republicans. But I am and still believe the Democratic party represents more effectively the majority of people in this country, most of whom who are working class and middle class people.

KING: You went to Iraq, did you not?

AFFLECK: I did. I went to the Middle East over Christmas.

KING: Not a political trip, though?

AFFLECK: Not at all. USO trips are politically non-motivated.

KING: What was it like?

AFFLECK: It was pretty amazing. I mean, once again, I have worked a few times in the past with the military in conjunction with doing movies, particularly with "Pearl Harbor." I spent a lot of time working with the military folks, and this just reinforced my perception that I had then, which was that we have the greatest military in the world. Not because of money or technology, but because of a group of extremely dedicated and talented and smart people, who are in the military. And they're doing a difficult jobs, oftentimes a thankless job. You know, a really unpleasant job. And they do it well, and they do it out of largely out of a sense of commitment and patriotism and duty. And it's really, really amazing. I was very impressed with everybody that I met over there. You know, I think it's obviously important that we ask -- you know, you don't ask a fireman to do your laundry, you know what I mean. I think the United States military is really good at one thing, and we need to ask them to do that and not strain them and ask them to do other things. But they're an amazing, amazing bunch.

KING: Excuse me. I've got bronchitis. "Jersey Girl," I keep wanting to say Georgia (ph), I grew up there -- a week from Friday, it opens, "Jersey Girl." As we go to break, we'll be back with more of Ben Affleck and your calls at the bottom of the hour.

A scene from "Pearl Harbor."


AFFLECK: How do you like it when someone's shooting back at you? (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Yeah, I got one!




AFFLECK: Humans have besmirched everything he's bestowed upon them. They were given paradise. They threw it away. They were given this planet. They destroyed it. They were favored best among all his endeavors, and some of them don't even believe he exists. And in spite of it all, he has shown them infinite patience at every turn. What about us?


KING: Our guest is Ben Affleck. The movie "Jersey Girl" opens a week from Friday. By the way, tomorrow night, Martha Stewart's daughter, Alexis Stewart, her first and only ever television interview. Alexis Stewart tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.

Let's touch some other bases...


KING: ... and we'll go to calls. Let's show a scene -- Ben was the host of "Saturday Night Live" Saturday, and the crew is dying to get this on. So let's see the scene, and we'll ask Ben about it.


AFFLECK: I was pretty shocked at all the attention we received. There was only one thing that really bothered me, though. And that was being referred to as Bennifer. Thank you, sir. I mean, Bennifer? How hard is that? How hard is it to say two names instead of one? Ben and Jennifer, Bennifer. You're not saving that much time. It was on the cover of every magazine in America, and they were selling a lot of magazines. But I did not see dime one.

That is why I'm selling these babies right here.


KING: Did you have fun doing that?

AFFLECK: Oh, it's great. It was such a nice -- it's so nice to get a chance to like have a little bit of fun at my own expense, at the expense of the whole silliness of it, you know. It was really -- it was really fun. Those guys wrote a great, great monologue.

KING: Did J.Lo watch?

AFFLECK: Yeah, she did. I talked to her. She said she liked it. She thought it was very funny. Maybe she was lying.

KING: Poker. Have you always been a poker player? How do you explain its incredible popularity?

AFFLECK: It's, well, you know, the interesting thing about poker is that it was always sort of popular to the extent that it was the most popular game played, you know, played in people's -- for pennies in people's living rooms. For example, Richard Nixon, it's a little known fact, ran his first congressional campaign financed by poker winnings from the Navy. And so it's a game with a lot of...

KING: Harry Truman played it a lot, played Churchill.

AFFLECK: Yeah, that's right. And so it's interesting, it's kind of the -- the heart -- it's at the heart of what America likes to do for whatever reason. It's now, I think people have tapped into the fact that everyone knows about poker and have started to capitalize on that with airing some of the games televised, because they came up with this idea of seeing the hole cards. That's really what makes it interesting to watch, is now you know what people have, so it makes it dramatic to watch.

KING: But you play it all the time.


KING: You played with my friends. You play in town.

AFFLECK: Yeah, I do. I like to play. You know, it's fun. It's the new golf, for whatever reason. I don't know why. KING: Do you play for a lot of money?

AFFLECK: Not a lot of money, no. Certainly not a lot of money by -- you know, I mean, you know, it's not about the money. It's not like I'm going to go broke or I'm going to make a bunch of money. It's more about the winning. You know? It's about the art of it. It's about fooling. It's about who won money at the end of the night and who lost.

KING: How much of it is talent?

AFFLECK: A lot of it is -- there's a lot of talent involved. I know some people who are really good. Obviously, at a certain point -- you know, talent is -- going to show itself over a long period of time. In a short period of time, almost anybody can win.



KING: Baseball fan all your life?

AFFLECK: All my life. Big passion of mine since I was a little kid.

KING: And being a Red Sox fan is like masochistic, isn't it? It's like being in doomsville.

AFFLECK: You know? You know, people think that. But it's a badge of pride. I don't know, where I grew up, you just didn't have any choice. You know, and it was part of the character of growing up in a city where, you know, it's not the warmest or the prettiest city in the country, you know what I mean, and we didn't have the best baseball team. But you know, there were a lot of things that you just, we grew up there, we lived there, and that's who we were. And there was a spirit and character of the city that says like take pride in that.

And -- I don't know. There's something really beautiful about being a Red Sox fan. And part of it's because you know you're not jumping on a bandwagon.

KING: How about your Patriots?

AFFLECK: The Patriots on the other hand -- I mean, that's the amazing thing to me, is that God hates the Red Sox, but he loves the Patriots.

KING: And he used to love the Celtics.

AFFLECK: He did used to love the Celtics.

KING: And the Bruins.

AFFLECK: And the Bruins.

KING: But the Red Sox...

AFFLECK: The Red Sox he just had a thing for.

KING: ... he don't like.

AFFLECK: I don't know what it is. Patriots, I had no concerns. The Super Bowl, they fell behind, I was like, they'll win, they'll win this game. I had no doubts in my mind. The Red Sox, you know, they were up, you know, a couple of runs, five outs to go, and I was like they're going to lose this game. They're going to lose. They're going to find a way.

KING: Our guest is Ben Affleck. "Jersey Girl" is a terrific movie. It opens next week. And we'll be back to take your phone calls. Don't go away.


AFFLECK: Long story short, I'm pricing them to move. Ten bucks apiece, 15 if I sign them. For 20, I'll sign them Bennifer. OK?

Now, my timing -- my timing was a bit off. I'm not going to get caught in a bind like that again. I'm thinking ahead. I've got my bases covered for the next time. Ready? Benyonce. It could happen. I mean, nobody saw the J.Lo thing coming. I don't know.

Or how about Boprah?




AFFLECK: Wait a minute. General, the president is basing his decisions on some really bad information right now. And if you shut me out, your family and my family and 25 million other families will be dead in 30 minutes.


KING: That's a Tom Clancy film, right?

AFFLECK: Yes, it is. "Sum of all Fears."

KING: "Jersey Girl" opens a week from Friday. Our guest is Ben Affleck. Don't forget Alexis Stewart tomorrow night. Let's go to calls. Tuckahoe, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Ben. I'm such a big fan of you. I'm sorry. I'm so excited what I'm doing. Why did you want to become an actor?

KING: How old are you, dear?

CALLER: I'm 12. AFFLECK: You know, I became an actor actually pretty young, almost by accident. I auditioned for something for Public Television, a children's educational TV show called "Voyage of the Mimi," which still runs, it's still taught in some sixth grades. Hopefully, not yours, dear. Actually, it was a good show. Once I started doing that, you know, I got exposed to it. And my mother made sure I had sort of a normal life, so I kind of went away from it. And it was the only thing I could think of doing when I thought of my future that didn't seem like work.

KING: What's the background of the name Affleck?

AFFLECK: Scottish. It used to be spelled A-U-C-H-E-N-L-A-U-G-H, I think. I guess it means in some ancient Scottish dialect field of flat stones.

KING: Did anyone want to rename you?

AFFLECK: Besides me?

KING: Anyone in the business?

AFFLECK: My mother was the only one. She really wanted me to change my name because she thought, oh, what if you become famous and people harass you? I thought, mom, I'm never going to be famous.

KING: Matt Damon and you know each other from what age?

AFFLECK: 7, 8 years old. We played Little League together.

KING: Woodstock, Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Ben, hi, Larry.

KING: What's your question?

CALLER: My question is I love everything that Ben does. So I look forward to all of his movies. But I was just wondering what are your favorite types of movies to do?

AFFLECK: Well, probably, movies like this one, as I was telling Larry earlier, like "Jersey Girl," because they're really actor- driven. There are movies that I like that I've been in that are a certain kind of movie where actors are largely incidental to a bigger kind of story juggernaut that rolls through and is about, you know, effects and all this giant set pieces and that kind of thing. And movies like "Jersey Girl" really hang on the performances. As a consequence, I get to do something interesting every day I come into work.

KING: You still give your best no matter what you do?

AFFLECK: You always do. For example, if you've got some dialogue that's really interesting where there's some subtext to it, where it has some relationship to what happens before and after it, that's a much easier way to play it than it is to play some wooden scene that's like -- where you're trying to imbue with some meaning and emotion. It's just much more difficult.

KING: You were saying in "Pearl Harbor" when we showed that scene, that's all computers.

AFFLECK: All the planes that blow up, it's amazing. They showed us testing before we shot. They would take footage of real planes just flying and doing maneuvers and they would lay two Japanese (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and the other plane would shoot them and they would explode, and that was all done by computer. You really can't tell the difference. What they can do with computers now is scary. You and me are going to be out of work soon.

KING: So when you saw it finished, you were shocked?

AFFLECK: I was amazed. Look at this. This actually looks completely real. Looked completely bogus.

KING: Did you ever turn down anything you regret?

AFFLECK: Yes. Sure, I've turned down things I regret. Although probably would be impolitic to say because obviously somebody else ended up getting the part.

KING: They still did well.

AFFLECK: There are a number of things. For the most part, I regret things I did. I regret things I turned down. You can't live without some -- you're going to make some mistakes, and you have to just accept that and try to deal with it. You know, we do the best we can with what we got.

KING: How do you choose -- like why did you do "Daredevil?"

AFFLECK: Well, "Daredevil" was a sort of personal thing for me because it was the comic book I loved when I was a kid. I just felt I would never forgive myself. The 12-year-old me would never forgive myself if I passed up a chance to do it. I'm not sure I would do it again but it was fun.

KING: Niceville, Florida. Hello.

CALLER: You know I had to ask. How do you feel about the Yankees picking up Alex Rodriguez?

AFFLECK: Well, I think it's -- you know, how do you feel when you see somebody shoplifting in a store? How do you feel when you see somebody committing a crime? You feel shocked. You feel sad for humanity. I mean, the Yankees stole A-Rod is what happened.

KING: What do you mean stole him? It's legal.

AFFLECK: Well, it's crookedness. Don't ever underestimate the crookedness of Steinbrenner for one thing.

KING: What did he do crooked? AFFLECK: Well, I don't know exactly, but I know it was crooked. Here you have the players union -- it doesn't matter. It's past now. We have a great team. As Curt Schilling, said, it's going to make it all that much sweeter to beat the Yankees. The problem with the Yankees is they have no heart. They've just become the French Foreign Legion. They just hire everybody who's good. Who are the top four or five guys paid in baseball? Giambi, A-Rod, Kevin Brown -- they all play for New York -- and Jeter. And they all started playing somewhere else.

KING: Do you think Nomar will go there next year and play second?

AFFLECK: I'll hang myself if that happens. You'll see me hung, dangling back there as a silhouette.

KING: Nothing can do that to someone but baseball, right?

AFFLECK: I can't imagine that would happen. Honestly, there would be giant marches on Yankee Stadium from Boston. It would be like "The Crusades." The Boston people will (UNINTELLIGIBLE) forces...

KING: East Peoria, Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Ditto about the Yankees, by the way. I just read in a recent interview you gave that you felt there was prejudice involved in people's perceptions about your relationship with J.Lo, and I wanted to know why you felt that?

AFFLECK: I think it's a little more complicated than just a sense of like people are prejudiced. What I mean by that is that part of the fascination was here I am, this white guy from Boston, and people saw her as this Latin woman from New York, and I think it was the -- people didn't exactly expect us to be together. It more had to do with our -- we still, I think, as a society generally assume that people will be with people who are like them. And when that doesn't happen, I think it engenders -- I don't know if it's prejudice in a negative way, it just engenders an additional interest, additional curiosity.

I think it was one of the factors that fueled a certain amount of curiosity about that. I think -- but, you know, it's really -- it still continues to confound me. I wouldn't pretend to have all the answers about what people thought or what they were interested in or what the big deal was. There we are. I have a strange expression on my face.

KING: Did it affect you when you met her? That this was a girl...

AFFLECK: No because this is a girl who is very similar to the way I grew up. My high school was a very diverse high school. It was socioeconomically very similar to where Jen grew up. So actually I think we had a lot more in common than people thought. I think that was a misconception about where I was from and where she was from. It's part of American life. We're the most heterogeneous country in the world. It's the best thing about this country and it's also something we have to still grapple with.

KING: We'll be back with more of Ben Affleck. Don't forget "Jersey Girl" opens a week from Friday. You're going to love. Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Gigli" is going to break the mold, all right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Gigli" is a terrible title.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what, I don't think it is. I think you're wrong. I think people are going to be like, hey, that sounds interesting. How do you pronounce that? is it "Jigly," is it "Jee- ly." It's an interactive title. It's a water cooler. It's an topic of conversation. I think it's great.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No offense, but I think I know a little more about this stuff than you do. And I think "Gigli" is going to be a big, big hit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so.


KING: Brunswick, Georgia, with Ben Affleck, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'm so sorry. My son's here freaking out.

AFFLECK: Brunswick. You live close by me down there, don't you?

CALLER: Yes, I do.

KING: Where do you live?

AFFLECK: I live south of Savannah in Brunswick, Georgia. I have place out there where I spend most of my time.

CALLER: You've taken an interest in Georgia. I was wonder -- you were talking about public office. I was wondering if you thought about running for public office down here.

AFFLECK: It's definitely something I would consider. You known, if I ran, I definitely am going to work and be involved in politics, in local politics and already am in Georgia. And will continue to, particularly Coastal Georgia down there, which I really love, which I think is really beautiful. So, yes, it's something that I would definitely consider.

KING: Why do you live there?

AFFLECK: I think it's beautiful. I went and shot a movie down there.

KING: Which one?

AFFLECK: "Forces of Nature" with Sandra Bullock. And I totally fell in love with it. The people are wonderful, and the country is wonderful.

KING: So L.A. is a commute then?

AFFLECK: Well, I have a place in L.A., but mostly when I want to go and be at peace by myself, you know, I live down this long dirt road, and people are very respectful of people's privacy down there and be my calmest and happiest, that's where I go.

KING: How many Red Sox games do you make a year?

AFFLECK: I watch 162, and I'll get to as many as I can. I probably get to most of the Yankee games that happen at Fenway. I'll probably see 10, 15 games at Fenway this year.

KING: Mr. Steinbrenner watches this program all the time.

AFFLECK: Does he?

KING: Yes, he does. If he invited you to his box up at the Red Sox, Yankees game.

He has a wonderful office where you can see the game, would you go?

AFFLECK: I might go. They might have to frisk me. I would -- you know, Yankee Stadium is tough...

KING: I know George, he'll invite you.

AFFLECK: I'm sure he's a nice guy. The interesting thing about Yankee Stadium is I've had bad experiences there in my life just going as a Red Sox fan, not being famous or anything. Just going there with the hat, you have to weather -- I mean, you leave soaked in beer and the whole thing.

KING: New Yorkers have a way of expressing their feelings.

AFFLECK: It's interesting, because Fenway Park is such a fan friendly -- it's a calm environment where we welcome people and celebrate the game of baseball. It's not animals.

KING: Lubbock, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Ben.

AFFLECK: Hello, Lubbock.

CALLER: I respect are for "Reindeer Games" and "Dogma."

AFFLECK: Thank you very much.

CALLER: I was wanting to know what your views are with the gay community now...

AFFLECK: Yes. I guess that's it -- gay marriage...

KING: I knew the point.

AFFLECK: You knew where it was getting? I see.

KING: It's called driving the show.

AFFLECK: You're driving the show. I see. I'm afraid you're going to drive me. I think -- I have no -- I don't think the government should be involved in any way in people's bedrooms or lives. I understand that people feel like -- I mean, with so much hatred and unpleasantness in the world, why would you want to get in the way of people who love each other marrying each other?

I think it's absolutely -- I did see a really funny cartoon though that said, now that gay want to get married. Haven't they suffered enough?

Be careful what you wish for.

KING: They did a skit on it on "Saturday Night Live."

AFFLECK: Yes, we did. We did a skit on it. I think it's great. Anybody who wants to get married to anybody else should be able to. It's not my business.

KING: Are you going to do "Glory Road."

AFFLECK: It looks like if it all comes together.

KING: That's the story of the Don Haskin the white coach of black college team Texas.

AFFLECK: Texas Western which became El Paso.

KING: Which one the NCAA beating the all white Kentucky team.

AFFLECK: Exactly. And Pat Riley played on that Kentucky team. It's a great story because it's a civil rights story and it's a story about basketball. But these guys weren't trying to be civil rights pioneers, they sort of stumbled on to it. This is a guy who recruited the best basketball players for his program.

KING: Are you going to do that?

AFFLECK: I hope so. It still has come quite together. We've got to work on the script and a few other things. I hopefully will start that in the summer.

KING: Boca Raton.

CALLER: I want to know why you chose India to write the new screen play with Matt and how long are you going to be there for.

AFFLECK: I choose India -- Matt's started shooting a movie, so I was going to hang out with Matt and get a chance to see India, which I've never seen. But Matt tells me it's a little hectic. But that's why. Because Matt's there shooting the "Bourne Supremacy," which is the sequel to the "Bourne Identity." And he's traveling around Europe. And said I'm going to go over there and then they'll be in Amsterdam and Rome doing "Oceans 12" at some point. I'll go hang out with Matt and my brother and hopefully get some writing done.

KING: What are you going to write?

Do you have an outline?

AFFLECK: It's a very nebulous idea. It probably will be a hard thing to pitch when it's finished. It's a character story.

KING: How do you get an award like a Razzie, that like where they're making fun of you?

AFFLECK: Razzie. The only thing I can say about those awards is they never actually send you one.

KING: They sent one here.

AFFLECK: They did? Thank god. I was hoping.

KING: This is a Razzie.

AFFLECK: That's the real one or is this a fake?

KING: They sent it. They knew you were on, and they sent it. Lets see what it looks like.

AFFLECK: There. What do I get this for?

Is this real?

You guys made this up.

KING: We didn't make it up.

AFFLECK: It's a little cheap, guys.

KING: For "Daredevil" and "Gigli."

AFFLECK: That's very kind of them.

KING: It's a piece of crap. This is a nothing thing.

AFFLECK: Congratulations. Thank you very much. Yes, they were pleased with "Gigli," I understand. We swept the Razzie for "Gigli" and "Pearl Harbor." KING: What do you do with that?

AFFLECK: I'm probably leave it here and make a gift of it for you, Larry. Because I love you that much, I'm going to let you have it.

KING: You mean I can put it on the desk?

AFFLECK: Put that on the shelf with the Emmy's and the rest of whatever you got.

KING: You got those too.

AFFLECK: Everybody needs a Razzie to keep around too.

KING: It will humble you.

AFFLECK: It does. Exactly.

KING: My Damon Razzie.

We'll be back with our remaining moments with Ben Affleck. Don't go away.


AFFLECK: Thanks. Listen, I'm trying to spend my lunch hour with my lady friend here, OK?

Ohs, that's your girlfriend right there. Look, if you don't stop gaucking at me and get the hell out of here. I'm going to kick your as, OK?

AFFLECK: Haven't you ever heard the phrase the customer is always right?

Give you a little secret. The customer is always an (EXPLICIT DELETED).




TOM WILKINSON, ACTOR: What is the play, and what is my part?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One moment, sir.

AFFLECK: Who are you?

WILKINSON: I'm the money.

AFFLECK: Then you may remain, so long as you remain silent. And pay attention. You will see how genius creates a legend.

WILKINSON: Thank you, sir.


KING: Did you have fun doing that?

AFFLECK: Yeah, that was great. I had forgotten about that.

KING: Philadelphia, hello.

CALLER: Hi. My sister and I were wondering how you felt about Arnold Schwarzenegger being a governor?

AFFLECK: Well, so far, I think he's doing a pretty good job, I have to say. I mean, he faced a tough situation there, where it really -- you know, I liked Gray Davis. It wasn't really Gray Davis' fault, I don't think, that the state's budget sort of -- the California energy crisis. But now that Arnold's there, I do think he's done a pretty good job at sort of breaking some of the gridlock, and we'll see. The real test of I think being able to govern is that once he gets past this kind of crisis stage is to reassemble a coalition and make a workable, functioning government going forward. You know, this is sort of triage for the state, and then you got to, you know, kind of live it in the day to day life. But thus far, I actually think he's doing a pretty admirable job.

KING: Atlanta, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I'm the mother of a young man who suffers from ataxia, and I'm curious about Ben's involvement with a young man who has it. He befriended him. I think he met him on a movie set. And I was wondering if he could talk a little bit about this very strange disease and what this young man has meant to him.

KING: What is ataxia?

AFFLECK: It's a disease that affects children, and it is degenerative and it affects -- attacks the nervous -- it has many -- there are many different ways. When she says strange, she means that there's a lot of different things that can go wrong. Ultimately, it can be sort of like cancer and AIDS and muscular dystrophy all together.

KING: Oh, really?

AFFLECK: It can be a very terminal disease. And children who deal with it are very brave and have to go through an awful lot. And like many diseases that aren't as well-known, it suffers from a lack of funding and R&D, because a lot of times the thing with drug money, is if they don't see big returns to find a cure, then they don't invest in it. So the AT Children's Project is something I've been involved with for a long time, and you can find it on the Internet if you're interested in giving money and support. And these are some real brave families and brave kids who are dealing with something that's real difficult.

And my friend Joe Kindrigan (ph), who has AT, is hopefully at home watching us now, and his mom, Susie. And they're good people. And they've become just friends of mine and good friends, because it's something that Joe deals with, it's something that I've come to learn about and trying to raise awareness of, in an effort to raise some money to help find a cure.

KING: You worked with the late Spalding Gray, huh?

AFFLECK: I did. I did. Yeah.

KING: Did you know how depressed he was?

AFFLECK: No, I didn't. Not at all. And I worked with him, I don't know, eight years ago. But I knew that he was a really gifted guy, and I knew how funny and sweet and kind he was. You know, oftentimes -- you know Elliott Smith, who did the music for "Good Will Hunting," killed himself earlier this year. It's a very difficult thing. And oftentimes it's a very difficult thing to -- you know, depression is -- hides itself quite well, and you don't know that people are suffering from it and dealing with it alone. And that was really -- it made me very sad. He's -- sometimes like being gifted like that comes with also being very troubled, and I'm not sure why. But it was definitely the case with him.

KING: Was being selected by "People" magazine sexiest man alive, was that embarrassing or fun?

AFFLECK: Yeah, pretty embarrassing, I would say. I mean, I got -- it's sort of silly. I mean, it's mostly an exercise in selling magazines. I don't think it actually means you're the sexiest man alive.

KING: Really?

AFFLECK: Yeah, I don't think that's the case. Although...

KING: When you think about it, Ben.

AFFLECK: No. You know, it's embarrassing, I think, by and large. I think it's something, particularly for men, that's a little weird. You know, women are more comfortable doing like -- it wasn't like I got into acting because I thought like I would like to be a beefcake. That was never my great ambition.

KING: So you're very proud of "Jersey Girl." How do you think it's going to do?

AFFLECK: I hope it does very well.

KING: I'm sure it deserves to do great.

AFFLECK: Thank you very much. I really appreciate it. I'm really, really pleased with it. I think it's a wonderful movie. It is going to platform -- it will be like 1,600 screens, 2,600, and then gradually open -- what they do with movies that they think will -- the word of mouth will be good on, and so on and so forth. So keep our fingers crossed. KING: Now, are you very involved in this promotion?

AFFLECK: Well, I'm certainly involved in it in the sense that I'm the chief instrument of it, you know, in terms of going around and hawking it.

KING: Your baby, huh.

AFFLECK: But also, the people who are marketing it, you know, are very good at what they do at Miramax, and they understand how to do it. And so I do what they ask me to do, and I think they've done a good job so far. And hopefully, people will go out and see it. Obviously we moved away -- thank God, we were going to open up like right up against "The Passion of the Christ." So now...

KING: Good move.

AFFLECK: ... we've gotten them to -- yeah, dodged the bullet. We've gotten them to -- you know, hopefully, it will play out. You know, there's a lot of other movies out there, and this should play, hopefully, rather than doing like one giant weekend -- some movies, you have to steal a weekend, because they're no good and then -- just get as much money as you can, and then it will drop off. Hopefully, this one will build.

KING: Great having you with us.

AFFLECK: Thank you, Larry.

KING: We'll do it again.

AFFLECK: It really was a pleasure. Thank you very much.

KING: Go Sox.

Ben Affleck. The movie is "Jersey Girl." It opens a week from Friday. I'll be back to tell you about tomorrow right after this.


KING: We're back. My two boys came over to see "Daredevil." This is Cannon behind me, that's Chance, just turned 5. OK. Just want to give you a report on young Matty Stepanek. He remains in critical condition. Vital signs still unstable. They're keeping him sedated. We spoke with his mom Jenny. She has high praise for all the doctors at Children's National Medical Center. They're giving him excellent care. Jenny asks, please don't call the center, come to -- or send anything to the hospital, but if you want to help, all she asks is for your prayers.

Say good night. Say good night.

"NEWSNIGHT" is next. Tomorrow night, Alexis Stewart. Good night.


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