Ben Affleck has earned a reputation for looking somewhat disinterested during appearances and press tours. However, his apparent awkwardness seamlessly aligned with his acting career. In 2014, director David Fincher cast Affleck in Gone Girl due to his ability to effectively convey disinterest, even when wearing a smile during public appearances.
Adapted from Gillian Flynn’s 2012 novel of the same name, Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and Amy Dunne, a married couple whose bond becomes strained. When Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing, her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck), becomes the primary suspect after navigating the media uproar with indifference.
“It’s the thing I was casting from. I started out going, ‘Whoever plays this part, they’re going to have to make this one moment believable.’ It’s such an interesting dichotomy when you see this happy snapshot of somebody ‘missing’ and you know, odds are, when they find this person, they’re not going to look anything like this.”David Fincher on casting Ben Affleck in Gone Girl
This indifference is most evident during a pivotal press conference scene, where the police, Amy’s parents, and Nick make a public plea for information. At one point, Nick (Ben Affleck) stands beside a “missing” poster of his wife and is prompted by photographers to smile, which he complies with, clearly displaying a lack of genuine involvement in the proceedings.
Fincher wanted to cast an actor who could convey disinterest during the scene while seemingly being unaware of what he was doing. Ben Affleck was the obvious choice as he already possessed a “parallel quality” that intrigued the filmmaker. Fincher detailed his reasons for casting Affleck in a November 2023 interview with Empire.
“As I went looking through photos of Ben [Affleck], I found a lot of those things where it looks like he’s going, ‘Okay, I’ll do this, but then I get to leave. If I give you what you want, I can get on with my life.’ And if I cast Ben, I was going to use everything that came before as rich soil in which to grow the Nick Dunne character.”David Fincher
“It’s the thing I was casting from. I started out going, ‘Whoever plays this part, they’re going to have to make this one moment believable.’ It’s such an interesting dichotomy when you see this happy snapshot of somebody ‘missing’ and you know, odds are, when they find this person, they’re not going to look anything like this,” Fincher explained about the role that went to Ben Affleck.
“But the idea that Gillian [Flynn, author and screenwriter] had conceived of, which was so funny, is somebody says, ‘Smile!’ and he does it. He isn’t sophisticated about it. He just got caught not thinking,” Fincher added. Fincher added that Ben Affleck’s relationship with Jennifer Lopez was also crucial to his casting.
“As I went looking through photos of Ben [Affleck], I found a lot of those things where it looks like he’s going, ‘Okay, I’ll do this, but then I get to leave,” Fincher said. “If I give you what you want, I can get on with my life.’ And if I cast Ben, I was going to use everything that came before as rich soil in which to grow the Nick Dunne character.”
Ben Affleck addressed his awkwardness in relation to Nick in Gone Girl during a 2014 interview. “I’m not the only actor who’s been through tabloid experiences and has photographers outside of their home and that sort of thing,” he said. “But it’s something that I’ve sort of made peace with, and there’s a particular sort of quality to that experience of my life that is parallel in some ways to some of the arcs of the story.”
Ben Affleck Coined Sad Batman
While Ben Affleck is widely recognized as a gifted actor, his media awkwardness has earned him an internet reputation for melancholy. This perception primarily rose from the “sad Batman” meme that swept through cyberspace when images of Affleck’s solemn Dark Knight emerged during the Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice era.
Additionally, a memorable interview for the film, where Ben Affleck appeared entirely disengaged as his co-star Henry Cavill spoke, fueled the proliferation of the “sad Affleck” meme. Affleck even humorously acknowledged it in a Radio 1 interview. “It taught me not to do interviews with Henry Cavill where I don’t say anything, and they can overlay Simon & Garfunkel tracks on it.”
Ben Affleck has a few projects in the works. However, his involvement is limited to producing credits only. The first is a film called The Instigators, which is billed as a heist thriller from director Doug Liman. The script is written by Chuck Maclean and Casey Affleck, who also stars in the film alongside Matt Damon. The story follows two criminals who flee a failed robbery and accidentally take their therapist with them.
Ben Affleck is also producing Small Things Like These, a historical drama directed by Tim Mielants. Written by Enda Walsh, the story is based on the 2021 novel of the same name by Claire Keegan. The film stars Cillian Murphy, Ciaran Hinds, and Emily Watson. The story follows Bill Furlong, who stumbles upon a revelation that compels him to confront hidden truths within his close-knit Irish community.