Over the past decade, the American public has slowly but surely unraveled the cryptic, elusive “mystery-wrapped-inside-of-an-enigma” that is Ben Affleck.
We have known him in Boston as Chuckie Sullivan, the brash, ball-busting sidekick in “Good Will Hunting.” We have known him in Hawaii as Captain Rafe McCawley in “Pearl Harbor,” in Las Vegas as Jack Dupree in “Smokin’ Aces,” and even in Texas as that paddle-wielding taunt who got paint-splattered in “Dazed and Confused.” But it’s only recently that Ben Affleck has peeled away yet another layer–this time, to raise public awareness about himself in the Congo.
On Thursday night, ABC’s Nightline aired an exclusive documentary on Mr. Affleck in the Congo, a region which, having suffered the loss of four million people in ten years, can at last find solace in the story of one celebrity’s redemption. The film, based on a journey that Ben’s brother Casey took to Darfur two years ago, features sweeping vistas, live gazelles, and a breath-taking soundtrack with instruments that sound African. Affleck admits that opening up to his fans under such dire circumstances was, at first, very difficult:
“You have to put yourself out there,” he said, “and reveal personal things about yourself to millions of adoring fans who have never even seen me in a movie that has the Congo in it. Sure, they’re on close terms with the Larry Gigli me who kidnaps a retarded man and falls in love with a lesbian assassin, but will they recognize the international rescue worker me who runs a refugee camp for abandoned orphans?”
Ben Affleck’s Inner Gigli
Affleck admits that preparing for the part was the most daunting challenge he has ever faced. “There were days I’d wake up, usually around noon, read over my lines for the day and think, ‘how do I make make that speech stand out with the sounds of gunfire and screaming childless mothers in the background?’ Do I read it right into the camera?–or off to one side like I did in Pearl Harbor :
‘Danny, you can’t die. You can’t die. You know why? ‘Cause you’re gonna be a father. You’re gonna be a daddy. I wasn’t supposed to tell you. You’re gonna be a father.’
Or do I play it like Danny? Or Daddy? I’m not sure. It’s all so nerve-wracking.”
Danny? Daddy? Darfur?