First-time feature film director Ben Affleck knew his brother Casey was absolutely the right choice to star in the dramatic film Gone Baby Gone, but thought he would have a hard time selling the idea to a studio because Casey didn’t have a proven track record of starring roles. However, with the support of Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook, the elder Affleck had no problem hiring his younger sibling to tackle the role of an investigator on the case of a missing 4-year-old girl.
Taking Direction from Brother Ben: The relationship between actors and directors isn’t always the friendliest, but even though Ben was the boss on the set, that didn’t harm their relationship. “You know, I don’t really want anyone to tell me what to do, per say, but when you do a movie you work with they director, there’s always going to be a certain amount of, like, conflicts,” explained Casey Affleck. “At least in my experience, maybe I’m kind of a difficult person, I don’t know, a difficult actor. But it was much easier with Ben because we’re very comfortable disagreeing. You know what I mean?
You grow, you’re someone’s brother… Anyone who has siblings understands that you spend 32 years or however many years we’ve been together, sort of fighting and disagreeing, and also kind of getting along. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen going into it, but our comfort level made things a whole lot easier -- if only just kind of things, conversations happen faster which is great, because on movies [that’s] often not a lot of time. So we could disagree and agree, and we could do it with a kind of shorthand, you know, that would just speed things up, and a kind of honesty. I never worried about stepping on his toes or hurting his ego or something like that. And sometimes when you do a movie, you’re kind of taking directions and trying to work with somebody you just met a few weeks ago, and then you kind of have to be a little bit careful on things you say.”
According to Casey Affleck, their relationship hasn’t changed since finishing up Gone Baby Gone. “Not really, to be honest. I mean, sometimes when you do a movie with somebody you haven’t met before, you spend four months working with them everyday and it can be a very intense bonding experience. But it pales in comparison to 32 years of brotherhood. It’s kind of a drop in the bucket. But it definitely was a great experience, one in a long line of nice memories that I have with him.”
Approaching Gone Baby Gone as a Father: Affleck has a young son and he and wife Summer Phoenix have another baby on the way. The actor admits being a dad and starring in a film about the search for a missing child had quite an affect on him. “I was remembering when I was a kid, seeing movies...or any time before I had my son three years ago, I realize now how sort of numb I was to those kind of issues, and how not very aware I was to those kind of issues, about like children and movies. This movie, obviously, is kind of sad in some ways, about how children are treated. That was very upsetting to do the scenes, to read the script. I was much more in touch with the emotions of the story then I would have been, I think, if I didn’t have a kid. I mean, it’s a parent’s worst nightmare, the things that happen in this movie. So it definitely kind of influenced my part in the movie.”
The Similarities Between Gone Baby Gone and the Madeleine McCann Kidnapping Case: The UK release of Gone Baby Gone was pushed back because of the kidnapping of 4-year-old Madeleine McCann, a still unsolved (as of early Oct 2007) case that involves the disappearance of young Madeleine while on vacation with her parents. “It’s a horrible story,” said Affleck. “I don’t know what to say about… This movie obviously was based on a book, had nothing to do with that. We shot it well before summer happened, and I think they decided to postpone the release just out of common decency for the family and for the kid obviously. That seems like a smart move and the least anybody can do. It’s just a movie after all. It’s not worth lives.
I don’t know all that much about the details of this case. I think it’s just now sort of reaching the States. It’s been a bigger thing in Europe up to this point, but it’s horrible. You know, one of the things I became really aware of in this movie, talking to some from the people in The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, is just how much children are not protected by the service, the kind of governmental and some private services that are supposed to protect them, and how much we kind of let them down. It’s really scary and very depressing and awful.”