The 70th annual Golden Globe Awards took place on Jan. 13, 2013, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. Here is what this Golden Globe winner said backstage in the Golden Globe Awards press room.
Best Motion Picture – Drama
Ben, how does it feel to have this comeback?
Affleck: I don’t know about all that. I do know that I worked on a movie with a lot of talented people who worked really hard. And I’m really proud of it. And I had great producers, who you see standing next to me. Tonight’s just a really wonderful night to enjoy that and be so grateful that we were honored in this way.
You’re getting a lot of awards for “Argo,” but how do you really feel about not getting an Oscar nomination for Best Director for “Argo”?
Affleck: I don’t look too far and handicap those kinds of things. I’m really grateful. We got nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture. I was thrilled! If you can’t be happy with that, your prospects for long-term happiness are probably pretty dim. I’m elated. I’m elated tonight. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.
Grant Heslov (producer): You are.
Affleck: Thank you.
What was the biggest challenge in directing “Argo”?
Affleck: Probably the hardest thing, directorially, was try to have three different tones and make them work together as one movie. I was lucky. I was supported by a great cast. I had really good producers who helped me organize what was, for me anyway, a sort of Leviathan production: several continents, different cities, a lot of extras. We were sort of a poor man’s David Lean movie in that way, but I got lucky and I’m really pleased.
How much an influence was “All the President’s Men” on Argo?
Affleck: Well, it sounds like you got us. Heavy. It was a big influence with the CIA stuff. We emulated the way they used the dolly to some of the color tones to that texture of the ‘70s to the sort of tone and the era of how men talked to one another, it was a male-dominated office, whether it was the Washington Post or the CIA.
The CIA at the time, there was not one woman who worked there except as a secretary in the whole place. So it was a very different feel. And we used “All the President’s Men,” because it was the most perfect, well-done example of that.
Don’t you feel a little bit of “in your face” proud that you won for Best Director tonight, and that the Academy got it wrong by not nominating you for Best Director?
Affleck: I am a member of the Academy. We got nominated for awards by the Academy. The Academy is made of up people who make all the great movies we talk about and love, so I am an enormous admirer of the Academy. I’m also thrilled to get this kind of acknowledgement, but I take it as an acknowledgement of the collective work effort.
Heslov: [He says jokingly] Which academy are you taking about?
Grant and George, what did you see in Ben that made you want to hire him to direct “Argo”?
Clooney: He was cheap. Right, Grant?
Heslov: And available.
Clooney: And available. Cheap and available, like I like him.
Heslov: Well, he did a couple of great movies.
Clooney: Yeah, he did a couple of great movies. It’s a funny thing when you look at Ben, part of the reason there is great admiration for him at this stage in his career is he was in “actor jail” for a couple of years. We’ve all done it. I did “Batman and Robin.” Trust me, I know. And a lot of it is how you handle yourself when things are not going particularly well. That’s what creates a career, as opposed to “You had a good run.”
He directed his way out of this. He did “Gone Baby Gone.” It was a terrific film. It made money. Then he did “The Town.” It was a big hit and a really good film and [“Argo”] is a step even further in the right direction. And it continued to make money.
Movies like this that make money, you get to make even more movies like this. That’s what he did. That’s what he brought to this film. I can’t tell you how proud we are to have worked with him. And how much I hate him. No, it’s true. He’s great.
Affleck: Thank you. Everything he’s saying is true. I think for me, coming into this, it was a very hard project to do, hard to navigate, hard to sell, but George and Grant have used their weight, their talent, their commitment to make these kinds of movies.
So I wasn’t in a place where I felt adrift. These kinds of movies had been successful before, not just George directing himself as an actor, but also trying to make movies that are tricky. So I thought that when I need help, it will very likely be there.
Ben, what’s next for you? And 15 years ago, you won a Golden Globe for co-writing the screenplay to “Good Will Hunting.” What have you learned from show business since then?
Affleck: I’m not sure what’s next up for me. I’ve probably learned a lot or nothing. I don’t know. I noticed that these are a different shade, 15 years later. But other than that, I learned to try to pick things wisely and try to pick your collaborators wisely.
And I think that what’s good about the movie is reflected by all the people you see standing behind me. That’s not bullsh*t. I genuinely, truly believe that. Work with people who make you better. And I did that with this movie.
Do you think “Argo” appeals to certain nationalities more than others?
Affleck: No, I think this movie is for all audiences. I mean, not under a certain age. I wouldn’t take my kid because I wouldn’t want her to repeat the “f” word all around the house. This is a movie that I hope I made for everyone to see — not for America, not for international, and not one that carried a political agenda, that wanted to didactic in any way, but rather just presented the facts of our history of involvement with Iran, what happened with the Islamic revolution in Iran, what happened when Tony Mendez went into Iran and helped these six diplomats get out. And what I very carefully tried not to do was do a lot of editorializing about it, but rather hope that by telling the simple, startling facts of this story, the audience would reflect something of themselves on that, and the themes of the movie would resonate with them.
George, what’s your take on Ben Affleck not getting an Oscar nomination for Best Director for “Argo”?
Clooney: I was disappointed. I’m disappointed. I think that he did a phenomenal job with the film, and I thought that he should have been nominated. But you can’t figure out what goes on in the Academy. But he’s still nominated for Best Picture, and we’ve still got a shot at that for you.
We talked about this for the next day for a while. We got seven nominations. He did a wonderful job, and it all happened because of what he put together. It’s disappointing, but we’re not out of the water yet. We’re not dead yet.
Affleck: George is, honestly and truly, really the smartest guy about what goes on with a lot of this stuff, about politics, Hollywood and politics — a lot of different things. He’s a very strategic, bright, wise guy. I just said that to embarrass him. But I really, really agree with what he’s saying about that you have to remember that we got these nominations. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s a wonderful, exciting thing.
To frame it as being about the nomination that I didn’t get, like, I also didn’t get the acting nomination. And notice no one was saying that I got snubbed there! [He laughs.] We’re really proud of it. And one of the nice things, just taking me out of it as director, is that it doesn’t make it about me; it makes it about the movie.
And I agree with George. We’re trying our best, and I think we still have something left in us. We love and admire and respect the other films that are out there. So in that spirit, we believe we can still go forward.
George, why didn’t you direct “Argo” yourself instead of hiring Ben to direct?
Clooney: Had I known he was going to do such a good job, I probably would’ve tried. We were doing “The Ides of March.” We sent Ben the script, he read it, and he said he wanted to do it. And from the minute that happened, Grant and I had a long conversation and we had a couple of meetings with Ben. And his take automatically was it was just so good. The thing you have to understand [with] Chris [Terio’s] script, when you commission a script to be written, usually the first draft doesn’t work very well.
In fact, I’ve never seen any work well, but with this one, Chris’ first draft was a great first draft — a shootable first draft. And it only got better with that. And when Ben came along, the tone of it somewhat changed, which was good and even better for it. So it was his take on it.
We leaned a little harder on the comedy in the first draft, because there was some funny stuff going on in Hollywood at the Beverly Hilton, actually, where we shot some of this. And when Ben came on, it was much straighter-forward about the drama and the thriller part of it. And he was absolutely right. And it was great. And it was really fun to work with him on it like that. We were really happy with the choice, and I have no regrets at all.
For more info: Golden Globe Awards website
RELATED LINKS ON EXAMINER.COM: