Ben Affleck Didn’t Think He Could Direct ‘Gone Girl’ Because It Was Too ‘Upsetting’

Ben Affleck has directed a variety of movies in his long career as a filmmaker. From The Town to Gone Baby Gone, the Batman V Superman star has shown there are many genres he can juggle.

But when it comes to a movie he starred in himself, Gone Girl, Affleck doubted he’d be able to direct it. If only because he found Gone Girl too upsetting.

It was tough for Ben Affleck to get into the mindset of his ‘Gone Girl’ character

Ben Affleck smirking while wearing a suit.
Ben Affleck | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Gone Girl director David Fincher chose Affleck to play Nick Dunne because of Affleck’s past experience with the press. Given that Gone Girl’s Nick was constantly under media scrutiny, Fincher considered Affleck’s experience to be an important asset to the character.

“The baggage he comes with is most useful to this movie. I was interested in him primarily because I needed someone who understood the stakes of the kind of public scrutiny that Nick is subjected to and the absurdity of trying to resist public opinion,” Fincher said in an interview with Film Comment (via Collider). “Ben knows that, not conceptually, but by experience.”

But playing Nick wasn’t easy for the Argo filmmaker.

“He feels like he is unfulfilled and he is being asked to do more than he should, and he is frustrated and he resents his wife. She resents him,” Affleck said according to Reuters. “It was trying to get into that mindset of recrimination and resentment, which was dark and tough and ugly.”

Ben Affleck couldn’t direct ‘Gone Girl’ because it was too ‘upsetting’

In an interview with Husam Sam Asi, Ben Affleck discussed the differences between acting and directing.

“Directing gives you a bigger sense of authorship,” Affleck said. “You gotta get to tell every part of the story. But it also takes a bigger investment. It’s a lot more of your time. You have to really love it.”

But when it comes to the idea of directing Gone Girl, the Oscar-winner believed that was more up Fincher’s Alley.

“I don’t think I could’ve directed this movie. It’s too dark, it’s too upsetting in a way. David, he loves that stuff. He kind of feeds off of that,” he continued.

But though Affleck couldn’t see himself directing the movie, Fincher was one of the reasons why he starred in it.

“Working with a really interesting and important director is what was most appealing,” Affleck said. “Because I wanted to be able to learn from him, to pick up some tricks, to find stuff I could steal, increasingly as an actor I find that it’s all about the director. You find a director you want to work with, that’s the way to do it. That’s the best bet you can make.”

Why playing the lead in ‘Gone Girl’ was liberating for Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck has made a career out of playing leading men in Hollywood. But he found being the lead in Gone Girl particularly liberating, as Nick Dunne was different than other protagonists he’s played with strict guidelines.

“The really liberating thing was … usually when you play a protagonist and you’re a lead in the movie there are sort of some unspoken rules. You know, you have to be a good person, you have to be a leader, you have to be smarter than everyone in the room, you have to kind of … give people steely glares and that kind of thing,” Affleck told NPR.

In this aspect, Nick Dunne stood out.

“And in this case, we weren’t encumbered by that at all. The whole idea of likability was sort of thrown out of the window. And I thought that was really exciting and liberating as an actor because you didn’t know where this guy was gonna go,” he confided.

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