The Internet's ablaze with talk about this morning's Oscar nominations, with Ben Affleck being passed over as a Best Director candidate for Argo being an especially hot discussion topic. For his part, the Oscar-winning actor/filmmaker is keeping his head down and instead looking ahead to his next project, Live By Night.
Affleck was reported a few months as entering negotiations to write and direct the Dennis Lehane adaptation (his second after Gone Baby Gone), in addition to headlining and producing. At the time, it wasn't altogether clear whether or not this will be his next directorial effort; given Affleck's commitment to adapting Stephen King's The Stand and ongoing attempt to make a Whitey Bulger biopic with Matt Damon, that is.
However, whereas progress on The Stand is slow-going, Affleck informed MTV in a recent interview that Live By Night is something he's pushing for (and expecting) to begin shooting in the foreseeable future. Hence, he recently chose to drop out of costarring with Kristen Stewart in Focus, the new comedy from directing duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris, Crazy, Stupid, Love.).
Here is the direct quote from Affleck, on the subject:
“Basically I’m doing a movie called Live By Night and I’m trying to meet this schedule in order to do it, in order to meet the back end so that I can have it released at the right time, and I just hadn’t gotten enough writing done and it became clear that if I took that job [acting in 'Focus'] and was in Buenos Aires for three months, I was gonna miss the deadline. I had to choose between getting the movie out when I want to or doing this one, so reluctantly I chose the [former]. But I love those guys, I love Kristen, I was really excited to work with her, I think the movie’s gonna be fabulous, and I’m sure they’ll find a great guy for it.”
Live By Night marks but latest Boston-set project featuring Affleck on both sides of the camera, after Good Will Hunting and The Town (since he didn't star in Gone Baby Gone); though, this time the setting is 1926 rather than the present. Affleck, it seems, will be playing Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a respectable Boston police captain who grows up to become an employee of the city's most fearsome (and successful) mobsters during Prohibition-era America.
Now, I agree that Affleck's proven himself as an excellent director of exhilarating genre entertainment, but he's still maturing as an all-encompassing storyteller; hence, I'm not all that concerned with him (not) receiving recognition for the time being, based on the hope that his best work still lies ahead. Live By Night feels like a good vehicle for encouraging further growth in Affleck, seeing it's similar enough to his previous projects to play to his strengths - but different enough to not allow him to inadvertently fall into a rut and repeat past mistakes.
We'll keep you posted on Live By Night.