Being an actor-turned-director has its bonuses when it comes to stepping behind the camera, but according to Ben Affleck, the firsthand knowledge of life as an artist makes it harder to fire performers.
“I’ve fired a couple of actors. It’s the worst thing in the world because I know, as an actor, what it’s like,” the “Argo” star/director said during The Hollywood Reporter’s directors roundtable discussion. “I was a child actor, and the director threatened to fire me. That traumatized me. I was 13 years old. And I went around in fear of being fired.”
The 40-year-old star, who made his directorial debut in 2007 with “Gone Baby Gone,” was forced to give a few actors the dreaded boot while shooting “Argo.”
“This movie [Argo] was the only time I really fired people, but I had to do it,” he said. “I had all these Persian actors who were supposed to speak Farsi. And often they would audition in English and I would say, ‘You can speak Farsi, right?’ ‘Oh, yes, yes.’
“A guy came in for a really crucial part, and on the day of shooting, we were blocking the scene, and this guy’s got this mini speech,” he continued. “And the guy did it, and it was just terrible. He was sort of like, you know, twisting the mustache and being the Iranian villain and having the accent and adding all these flourishes. A couple times I said, ‘Just do nothing and say your lines. Let’s try that.’”
Another actor was axed after attempting to steal focus during a pivotal scene in the historical thriller.
“There was this guy who had a little bit in the movie, but it was so nice,” Ben said. “And then when this other guy was blowing it — and not just blowing it, but hamming it up — it made it easy to say, ‘No, you know, you’re trying to ruin my movie.’”
-- Erin O’Sullivan
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