May 30, 2017

Ben Affleck on “Argo,” and why his ensembles work so well – OSCARS

By Sean O’Connell Ben Affleck’s primary strength as a director, so far, has been his ability to assemble stupendous ensembles.

His casting decisions on his first film – “Gone Baby Gone” – were so strong, from top to bottom, that many dismissed it as a happy accident. “The Town,” however, also showed Affleck’s knack for finding the right actor to fit the right part, from Jeremy Renner’s hot-headed Boston thug (for which he received an Oscar nomination) to the late Pete Postlethwaithe as a menacing florist with ulterior motives.

Affleck has done it again with “Argo,” a retelling of an actual hostage situation that somehow bridged Washington, D.C. and Hollywood in an effort to bring a team of American embassy employees home safely.

I was lucky enough to sit down with Affleck for a one-on-one, which we’ll have up on the site closer to the film’s release on Oct. 12. But his quote about actors, and about assembling ensembles, was too good not to share.

“The advantage of being an actor is that you appreciate other actors,” Affleck told me. “I’ve always focused on actors. I’ve always loved actors. I’ve always watched movies with an eye to even the littlest of moments to an actor’s performance. And so it has become the one thing I feel most confident about, because I just know how much I like other actors and acting. And you know, if you are a carpenter, you’re probably able to recognize better carpentry. The other stuff can be a little bit harder. It usually takes more work.”

That explains why “Argo” comes off as effortless. Affleck recruited a slew of tremendous “carpenters,” from John Goodman and Alan Arkin to Tate Donovan and the great Bryan Cranston.

See for yourself when “Argo” opens in theaters on Oct. 12.

Read more of our exclusive Awards coverage:
Our “Silver Linings Playbook” review
Ben Affleck’s “Argo” scores
Amy Adams lends strength to “The Master”
Producer Harvey Weinstein
“Lawless” director John Hillcoat

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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