Ben Affleck is on something of an upswing of late. Starting with his (fittingly titled) 2020 alcoholism drama The Way Back, Affleck has been steadily re-establishing himself as an interesting, often-daring actor, including a lively performance in Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, and a stint serving as the only performer doing work of any real note in George Clooney’s recent The Tender Bar.
All of that—and an apparent renewed lust for life—stand in pretty sharp contrast to the Affleck from a few years back, who, in addition to the struggles happening in his personal life, simply seemed over his job as one of the planet’s biggest movie stars.
Nowhere was that clearer than in his franchise obligations as Batman, a gig that saw Affleck grumpily anchor huge portions of Warner Media’s then-nascent DC Comics-based films. Both on- and off-screen, Affleck seemed enormously, depressingly bored by the chore of playing dress-up as a large human bat; even at the time, he occasionally made it clear that he’d taken the part less because he wanted it, but because there was some public understanding that he should want it.
All of which comes to the surface quickly in an interview Affleck gave to the Los Angeles Times today. Describing that period of his life, Affleck is blunt: “It was really Justice League that was the nadir for me.”
Somewhat surprisingly—given the many rumors that have cropped up about that particular set—Affleck doesn’t then go on to namecheck Joss Whedon as a source of that misery. Whedon has, of course, faced heavy criticism, and accusations of abuse, from multiple Justice League cast members for how he handled reshoots on the movie, after Zack Snyder departed the project in the wake of his daughter’s death by suicide in 2017.
In fact, Affleck doesn’t even mention Whedon by name; he ascribes his unhappiness from filming to “a confluence of things: my own life, my divorce, being away too much, the competing agendas, and then Zack’s personal tragedy, and the reshooting.”
Affleck does note, either in regards to Justice League generally, or possibly the reshoots specifically, that, “It just was the worst experience. It was awful. It was everything that I didn’t like about this. That became the moment where I said, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.’” But, he also points out that, “It’s not even about, like, Justice League was so bad. Because it could have been anything.”
Affleck also gives a pretty good explanation for why he not only dropped out of the standalone The Batman (later taken over by Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson), but shied away from original plans to direct it: “I looked at it and thought, ‘I’m not going to be happy doing this. The person who does this should love it.’”