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Ben Affleck Talks About "Surviving Christmas"

Ben Affleck on Christmas Memories and Starring in a Comedy

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Ben Affleck Surviving Christmas

Ben Affleck and Christina Applegate in "Surviving Christmas"

© DreamWorks Pictures
In "Surviving Christmas," Ben Affleck stars as a rich, single guy who wants to recapture the joy of Christmas by spending the holiday at his childhood home. There's only one catch: the people living there are complete strangers.

In this interview, Ben Affleck spreads some early holiday cheer by talking about his role in "Surviving Christmas," starring in a comedy, and even shares a few Christmas memories of his own.

INTERVIEW WITH BEN AFFLECK ('Drew'):

Is Christmas so hard that you need to survive it?
(Laughing) Some people do. Yeah, some people do. It’s family, really. This is more a movie about family. Christmas just represents that time when families get together and start kind of making each other crazy. We love our families but they’re like us and I think we kind of sometimes don’t like things about ourselves. We seem [those traits] in our family members so they make us irritated. And this really is a movie about a guy who pays for someone to pretend to be his family, and then makes them crazy just like he would his real family. It’s very funny.

This is different from most of your films in that it's a broad comedy.
It was very hard to convince people that I could do this. You know, you have people who put actors in certain categories. Like I could do a billion action movies once I did “Armageddon,” “Pearl Harbor,” blah, blah, blah. They go, “If things blow up, Ben Affleck might work.” But when you have a comedy, people think Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey, maybe I’m missing one or two guys – or nobody. So the script was there and it was very, very hard for me to get them to agree to use me. They’re like, “Oh, we like Ben. We like him to do this movie or that movie, but we don’t think that Ben Affleck says 'comedy'.” Which is one of the reasons I thought it was important for me to host “Saturday Night Live” again, right before this, to say, “Hey, I can do comedy. I can be funny.”

What's it feel like to not only star in this comedy, but also produce it?
It feels great. I’m really proud of this movie because comedies are really hard to do, but when you do them you know. It’s like you promise the audience, “Come see this movie. You’re going to laugh. You’re going to find it funny.” Delivering on that and seeing the audience laughing makes me feel really comfortable and happy. It’s not like some movie where you’re going to go, “Oh, this is going to make you cry and think about your life in a different way.” Those movies may be out there, I just don’t want to see them.

Director Mike Mitchell said you are great at being annoying.
(Laughing) That is the point of this movie. I’m this lonely, crazy, rich guy who is miserable. All his friends are bought or else they work for him. So Christmas comes and he’s totally alone. He goes to the house that he actually grew up in feeling nostalgic and he rents the family that lives there and makes them pretend to be his family. And in the process, he makes them insane. So I had a lot of practice at being annoying. Jim [Gandolfini] was very good at being annoyed by me.

What do you want for Christmas this year?
What do I want for Christmas this year? I want a little quieter life.

Have you ever experienced a Christmas like your character does?
No. I’ve been very lucky. I have a wonderful mother who raised us almost by herself. She always made sure that me and my brother had a nice time on Christmas and that we saw our grandparents. Now, Christmas gets a little crazier because once you get other people, like my brother’s wife and their in-laws and putting them together and then where are we going to go and what if they don’t get along – that’s really what this movie’s about. It’s really about family. Christmas is just a time where you end up seeing your family and your brother’s wife or your brother’s boyfriend, you know what I mean? And then you get all these different personalities forced to be in a room together, and that’s really what it’s about. It’s about family and trying to work that out. And the sort of unconventional nature of families today and what’s really important about it. And in the process hopefully you’ll laugh and think it’s funny.

Did you always get everything you wanted for Christmas?
No. When I was a kid I used to get really bummed out if I didn’t get like the right Christmas present, but I would hide it. I didn’t want to disappoint my mom so I’d be like, “It’s good. I like this present. It’s okay.” I always got that we couldn’t afford it. I remember I wanted the Millennium Falcon. I did get the Millennium Falcon.

You’ve talked about doing some more writing. When are you going to do it?
I just adapted a Dennis Lehane book. I just turned it in, which I’m really excited about. He wrote “Mystic River.” And this was called, “Gone, Baby, Gone.” And that was really fun. I had two months by myself in the office writing. It’s gotten me inspired to write something original. Maybe I’ll do that soon.

PAGE 2: Ben Affleck on College and Politics

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