Ben Affleck for “Paycheck”

In his latest film, Paycheck, his character has a chance to change an unsettling future, the sci-fi thriller. In reality, Affleck takes pleasure in laughing at the kind of year he has had, or at least acknowledging that he may or may not want to change anything, had he known the kind of craziness that would follow him this year.

“It’s sort of that trade off, the good-humoured Affleck remarks. “I have a great life; it’s sort of tough to complain and say ‘well, I would actually tweak this a little bit’ but I think it’s only healthy to want to continue to improve and live a better life. By the same token, I’m the sum of myself, the mistakes I’ve made, the things that I’ve accomplished and the things that I’ve endured, so I wouldn’t change any of that stuff. I’m trying to cobble together some character.”

Affleck says he might have had it tough, but not as tough as ex-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow, who lost her father. “Gwyneth really had a difficult time. For me ultimately what’s been proven to me now is that it’s not the most important thing in the world to have a big gigantic bomb movie, but it’s also nice to realize that you get over it; it’s just a movie. You can’t make a movie work if it doesn’t. We tried to re-shoot for 5 weeks, I spent an enormous amount of time trying and there was just nothing you could do. On some level movies are kind of binary, they work or they don’t but professionally speaking I feel like I have 2 out of 3 this year that work and it may take 2 to make up for 1 but I feel really good about Pay check. II think it’s going to work and I just try not to read and get too involved in like gossips and tabloid sort of stuff because I take comfort in the assumption, maybe erroneous, that most people understand that the tabloids are largely fictitious.”

Talking about Gwyneth, Affleck was nothing but pleased for his ex-girlfriend’s pregnancy. “That was wonderful and really great. As I said, she had a really tough year, which is what a tough year is, not what I went through, so it is wonderful to see somebody get some happiness and I wish her the best of luck. I imagine the child will have a beautiful singing voice as Gwyneth can really sing.” Affleck is still hoping to start a family of his own with fiancĂ©e Lopez. “It’s a goal of mine and something that I want to have. I don’t want to die alone, so it’s something I think about.”

Yet it’s not a huge priority. “Growing up means different things for me. I don’t feel men in general experience the same time pressure necessarily about procreation but I think about it in career terms. It’s like I think about the quality of my life, as I’d like to do directing and writing more, and maybe transition out of the kind of acting where I have to be really so out there because it impinges on my life that I’m not so great at and so comfortable with. However, that being said, it would be hard for me to totally stop acting. I’d like to do character stuff and cool neat little roles like Changing Lanes or Shakespeare in Love.”

And yes Ben’s wedding is still on, but not necessarily to Jennifer. Affleck wants it known that he may have another marriage on the horizon. “I’m willing to make a statement about this marriage right now,” he says, unashamedly. “This is legal now, in Massachusetts and Matt [Damon] and I have set a date. We will be married on New Years day and the honeymoon will of course be on the Greek island of Mykenos,” he confesses amidst peals of infectious laughter, responding to questions about Matt’s own film, Stuck on You, a movie that revolves around Siamese twins. Affleck says that of course he could see himself permanently intertwined with Matt. “There is nobody I would rather be strapped to, but of course I’d want to be on top. As for the marriage, “We registered at the gayadvocate.com. Log on!”

Affleck has always maintained a sense of humour about himself, such as the above would indicate. On a more reflective note, the actor says that comes from “a sense that I’m really lucky and am very grateful for a really good life.” I understand that it is a trade off and when it no longer becomes worthwhile to me I’ll no longer make it.”

Affleck is genuinely passionate about Paycheck, which he was keen to do because it meant working with action director John Woo. “I’ve been a great fan of Johns Harboiled and The Killer so it was like getting to work with one of my heroes. Getting to stand there and do the 2 guns shot, I literally felt like a 12 year old kid. It was really interesting from the perspective of somebody who wants to be a director and is trying to pay attention to directors and how they work, to have paid really close attention and one of the things that was interesting was that he demonstrated a desire to grow, to change stuff. He wanted to imbue this movie with a kind of Hitchcock tone and I realized that he really has a foresight about what he wants the movie to be.”

Affleck is equally excited about the much-delayed Jersey Girl, which features a cameo from Jennifer Lopez. He is unconcerned about the film’s delays, in part due to the Gigli fiasco. “I’ve seen the movie and it’s maybe my favourite movie that I’ve ever made. I really dig this one, as it’s beautiful and really an incredibly wonderful story. What I think will be interesting is that Jen is in about the first 10 or 15 minutes and I think it will go to show really that what it comes down to, is that the movie works or it doesn’t. Gigli was the Ishtar of our times but Jersey Girl I think works on its own level.”

Affleck is not keen to return to Daredevil territory, however. “I am not eager to get back into the crimson outfit. It was a really, really, really hard movie to make and was sometimes really frustrating. They want to do a sequel, but what would be really interesting to me was if Kevin Smith wrote it. I don’t want to do it just to do more kung-fu in the red suit and I actually think there is an even kind of darker way to go with it. I would do that verbatim, because I think it’s a great story.” Looking back on Affleck’s failures, he says that they don’t dictate the way he chooses to work, nor will they. “I continue to do the same sort of thing that I’ve done which is to do a big studio movie that I really like that I think will work and then do a really risky movie which those bigger films afford me the opportunity to do.”