close
close

Ben Affleck once saw similarities between politics and Hollywood

Ben Affleck aspired to be an actor since he was a child, and after being part of the film industry for so long, he noticed some stark similarities between the world of celebrity and the world of politics.

Why Ben Affleck wouldn't run for office

Ben Affleck | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Affleck did not see himself as a candidate for political office, although he was asked a few times about the possibility. If he ever ran a political campaign, Gigli director could feel right at home. In a 2010 interview with Entertainment Weekly, he shared what he learned about politics and Hollywood during his time in the industry.

“I don't want to hold office. Every day it seems like it's a worse job,” he said. “Look at the level of political discourse today. It's very depressing to me. I did a lot of research in DC when I Game Status [Affleck played a congressman in the 2009 film]and it's not unlike Hollywood. It's a backwater. Everyone is jockeying for power, prestige and image, and stabbing each other in the back as quickly as possible. The only difference is that there's a little more at stake, which makes it sadder.”

Even on a more professional level, Affleck was somewhat cautious about the impact of politics on his career.

“Politics is a trickier thing. … I do have some strong beliefs, but they don't all stick to one side, and I think it can actually be hurtful to get too involved in politics, because what happens is you might like someone's movie, but then you say, 'Well, I know it goes against my politics.' So that can be tricky,” Affleck once told ET. “Some people choose to do that. I've chosen to do that sometimes. Others don't, and I don't begrudge either of them their choice.”

Ben Affleck enjoyed the power that came with playing a congressman in State of Play

Affleck's role in Game Status gave him a little taste of what it's like to be a figure in politics. In the 2009 thriller, Affleck played a powerful U.S. congressman whose career is in jeopardy after a disturbing scandal. Affleck's research helped him immerse himself in the role, where he was easily seduced by the political power he had access to.

“It was good to feel the power in my hands for a moment. I have to say, I think the power of an individual member of Congress is limited in general. But it was certainly fun to play a politician,” Affleck once told Movies.IE.

But the Oscar winner reiterated his desire to stay out of politics and remain in the film industry.

“I really like my current job. And unlike in Hollywood, where you need a director to hire you, in politics you need a lot of people to vote for you. I think it's harder work. I'm really happy with what I'm doing now. In fact, I've never been in a place where I felt more comfortable working. I'm more engaged and very, very happy,” he said.

Affleck also believed there was an overlap between the way the media covered politicians and celebrities. It was a topic Affleck himself had some experience with, perhaps more than other celebrities. He suspected that he and his initial relationship with Jennifer Lopez were scrutinized so closely because it coincided with the rise of the tabloid press, so he knew firsthand what it was like to have a relationship with the press.

“The pressure on the media to sell magazines and newspapers drives traffic to the website. The focus has to be on what sells best, and that is usually the most sensational, the most scandalous, the most headline-grabbing. Perhaps the temptation is to distort the truth,” Affleck said.

However, he felt that more thorough fact-checking could have been done when developing stories about politicians.

“Entertainers just make up stories. They use sources that don't exist or material that is very thinly substantiated,” he said. “On the political side, people are a little more cautious about completely abandoning journalistic standards. You still have the same drive to find the story and dig up the most scandalous aspect of it. The only difference is that with entertainers, people feel more comfortable saying, 'It's OK. Just print it and run it.' Because they know it's not the President of the United States. It's not going to change the world, so they think they can just print it.”