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Ben Affleck is earning serious Oscar buzz this year. It is not, however, for his work on To the Wonder.
The Boston native directed and stars in Argo, his third effort behind the camera. It is a critical and commercial hit, but he knows he can never stop learning. That’s why he took the lead role of Neil in Terrence Malick‘s impressionistic indie To the Wonder, which was met with lukewarm reception (and some boos) at its Venice Film Festival premiere.
“The experience of it seemed half-crazy in that we didn’t really have dialogue, so I didn’t really know what was happening,” Affleck tells GQ in a new interview. “Then I realized that he was accumulating colors that he would use to paint with later in the editing room. My character doesn’t really do that much.”
Indeed, in THR‘s review of the film, Neil is called “a leading contender for biggest cypher of a leading man in modern cinema. With the barest shards of dialogue to speak, Neil holds his women tight when love is strong, approaches them with concerned sympathy when they turn unhappy and broods in corners or while driving a car once a rupture looks inevitable.”
Added Affleck, “It was kind of a wash for me in terms of learning something as an actor, because Terry uses actors in a different way—he’ll [have the camera] on you and then tilt up and go up to a tree, so you think, ‘Who’s more important in this—me or the tree?’ But you don’t ask him, because you don’t want to know the answer.”
He did, however, learn how Malick uses natural light in his film, so not all was lost.
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