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An “out of sight, out of mind” approach was impossible, since even his secret wedding to Jennifer Garner and the birth of their child was covered by the tabloids. But as much as Affleck could avoid the spotlight, he did for the next two years. Even Smith had to settle for the smallest of Clerks II’s cameos from his best friend.

Now Affleck is officially back. Hollywoodland hits theaters this month with Affleck cast as tragic Superman actor George Reeves. The film traces his career struggle and ultimate death, speculating on whether it was indeed suicide, or perhaps murder. Affleck is back to work full-time now, directing the film Gone, Baby, Gone.

“It's just more about me not doing some movies for a while and I wanted to sort of take a break and keep things quiet,” Affleck said. “I kind of made a decision to just do the kind of movies that I wanted and that I could be proud of being in, and not work for money or work to be famous. I got really lucky that the first movie that I did in this period was this one [Hollywoodland] which turned out really well.”

If there’s any silver lining to Affleck’s tabloid survival, it’s that he was well prepared to play a celebrity plagued by stereotypes. After playing Superman, Reeves was never taken seriously as an actor by critics or audiences.

“It's just like, in doing this movie, I sort of like lived my own research a little bit which was nice, playing this part, because I didn't have to then go around and ask a lot of people what this is like, what this feels like. It's like the guy from Good Will Hunting, playing a guy from Boston. I kind of had a head start on that.”

Sitting in the ballroom of Beverly Hills’ Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel, greeting press for the first time since several major life changes, Affleck knows he’s trying to work his way back into their good graces. Even though he’d rather talk about the film than his career or personal life, he smiled through the questions we had to ask.

“I started out wanting to be an artist and do stuff that was really beautiful and that I was really proud of. I think that I kind of got cynical and decided that I was going to carve out a niche for myself, set a period of time and just say, 'F*ck it.' And make money and have this and do this, do popcorn stuff, and I did that. And some of those movies, there are good popcorn movies and bad popcorn movies, but ultimately I found myself at the end of that period to have sort of a horrible feeling, to be trapped inside and part of this whole tabloid situation where my personal life is out there. So just being able to take a couple of years and reassess about what I want to do with my life, what I want to be has been great.”

Some of Affleck’s collaborators are not quite as hard on him. Mike Binder, who directed Affleck in the upcoming film Man About Town, thinks Affleck’s career choices were understandable.

“If you look at the movies he’s picked, his recent so-called failures, I’d have worked with [Gigli director] Marty Brest in anything,” Binder said. “You want to make an action movie with someone, you make it with John Woo. Kevin Smith is an old friend of his and they’ve had success together and Surviving Christmas was a great script. I tried to get the job. I went in and did a dog and pony show and the producer wouldn’t hire me. The director or somebody screwed that movie up horribly. That was an abominable movie but it was a really well written screenplay.”

Binder continues, “Who is always on a roll? Tom Hanks maybe, but he’s kind of not on a roll. Tom Cruise? And after that, who? I think all these guys that are hot now are going to be cold and they’re going to be hot again. That’s the curse these guys live with.” / Issue 59 - September 3328
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