Judging from the trailer for True Grit, it seems like you’re the movie’s comic relief.
I asked them to schedule me so I wouldn’t be away from my kids for too long. I’d shoot for four days in Texas, and then I’d get off the plane and run home and say to my wife, “Oh, I had this line...” and I’d start acting it out for her.
With your film work and the Oct. 20 birth of your daughter Stella, how do you find the time for anything else?
I’ve learned that if you decide not to sleep, you pick up all these extra hours in the day. We came home from the hospital the other night, and we were up with the baby and the alarm went off. And I realized, “Oh, s—, I’ve got to take the other kids to school!” Their lives don’t stop because we had a baby. So it’s a little relentless, but I mean that in a good way.
“There was something we almost did that sort of fell apart,” [Affleck] says. “We’ve been talking about doing a couple different things. The problem with Matt is that he’s so busy that we’re always saying, ‘Oh, we should do this,’ or ‘Let’s do that’ or ‘How about this idea,’ but then the Coens call you or Scorsese calls you and it’s like, well...”
With a smirk he adds, “I really feel like as a director and a writer I’m firmly in a back seat to those guys. But yes, the answer is I think we will. Luckily we don’t have that desperate thing of having to do something. I think that’s how a lot of bad work gets done. So we’ll wait and we’ll see what the right time is. He was working on something with my brother and they said, ‘Well, would you direct it,’ then that didn’t happen, so it’s one of those things where you’ve got to wait for it to be right for everybody, and given everyone’s schedules, particularly Matt’s, that’s hard.”
Ben on Matt as a director
“Matt is honestly a great director who hasn’t directed a movie yet,” he says. “He’s extremely smart about movies. He really understands how to make a scene work. He has really unique ideas and he has the ability to see a movie from the audience’s point of view. I think that’s what makes him a great writer and it’s what’s going to make him a great director. He really gets that perspective, and it sounds obvious, but it isn’t. For a guy who’s made a lot of art movies, he’s got a very strong sense of satisfying an audience in a broad and interesting way.
"He has one script that he was talking about somebody developing but, again, I think Matt’s directing career is being pushed back because his acting career is so strong. So it’s a bit of, ‘Maybe next time, maybe next month, I’m going to go do this Cameron Crowe movie, so maybe in the spring I’ll put that thing together.’
"If he was a little bit less successful as an actor, you would already see, I think, two really good movies that Matt had directed. But look at the directors the guy’s worked with: Eastwood, Coen brothers, Scorsese, Spielberg, Gus Van Sant, Greengrass, Terry Gilliam, I think Billy Bob is a really good director, Robert Redford, look at that list. He’s picked up a lot from all those guys and it’s one of the reasons I think he’s so smart about all this stuff. If you could buy stock in Matt Damon’s next movie, I would do it."