Written by Rob Vaux
Ben Affleck had been working in Hollywood for a few years when the success of Goodwill Hunting propelled him to the ranks of perennial superstardom (as well as winning him an Oscar for screenwriting). He’s since become a noted director in his own right, and continues acting in big projects than small. A noted comic enthusiast, he ventured into comic-book filmmaking with 2002’s Daredevil – widely panned though I maintain it deserves re-evaluation – and joined the DCEU as a very different Bruce Wayne in 2016’s Batman v. Superman.
Gal Gadot is a more recent entry into the showbiz scene, with roles in the Fast and the Furious franchise and the likes of Knight and Day. She landed the coveted role of Wonder Woman for the DCEU, first in BvS and then with this summer’s wildly successful stand-alone Wonder Woman movie. She joins Affleck in Justice League, the hotly anticipated DCEU team-up moving opening in theaters this Friday. The pair spoke to the press about the film at a recent junket.
Question: How surreal was it to have these actors together in those iconic costumes for the first time?
Gal Gadot: The word “surreal” is interesting. I remember coming to set and seeing everyone in their costumes. I was just observing everything: and it was surreal. Surreal and crazy.
Ben Affleck: Movies like this have a lot of effects, which means acting with a lot of green screen. You have to use your imagination a lot. It was really great to be around these great actors in their costumes, and looking so cool. It made it a lot less ridiculous. It helped us get in the right spirit and do our jobs of delivering these characters the right way.
BA: The movie is Zack’s DNA. He cast the movie. He designed the movie. There’s something that people who don’t work in movies always understand: how much of the work is done in prep. The casting is done. The sets are getting built. The story is written. The ship is sailing. I’ve found, as a director, you can change maybe 10%, 15% on the day of the shoot itself. So you really had Zach’s inner ship sailing on this one, and when Zach, sadly, was not able to continue, we got really lucky to get someone like Joss: someone very accomplished in his own right, especially in this genre. He kind of sprinkled his fairy dust on our movie and finished it. I don’t think there’s any way to go back and break down which scene belonged to which director. You won’t be saying, “oh that’s a Joss scene” or “that’s a Zach scene.” They were both working towards a common goal, and that Joss was working on what he has discussed with Zach.
GG: As far as Zach goes, he did magnificent work casting, and knowing exactly which actor was right for the part… and how the whole would work together. It’s been super easy, the chemistry. That made it so much better, especially with the change to Joss at the end.
GG: I’ll give you a cheesy answer, but it’s no less true for being cheesy and I mean it from the bottom of my heart. In the real world, we don’t fight monsters. We don’t have alien attacks. It’s us creating the problem. It would be wonderful if somehow we could come together as a species, as a planet, and work it out.
Q: Batman has a long history in the movies by now, but outside of Saturday morning cartoons, this is the first time we’ve seen him in a team context. What kind of challenges did that present as a performance?
BA: Batman is, by nature, not necessarily anti-social, but certainly a loner. He’s pretty private. And now he’s suddenly thrust into a role where he not only has to work with a group, but lead the group to a large extent: to somehow be the gel, along with Wonder Woman, to hold all of that together. That was an interesting aspect of the character to play. It’s also, I think, closer to the classic Batman from the Justice League comics rather than the Batman blinded by rage from BvS. It was a lot of fun for me. I also got to have a bit of a dry wit. I got to play off of Ezra Miller, who’s very funny. Bruce is always on the verge of exasperation with him, and it was fun to get to show some other colors of the character like that.
Rob Vaux has worked as a professional film critic since 2000: writing for such sites as Collider, Mania.com, Flipside Movies and the Sci-Fi Movie Page. He also runs a blog, www.cinema-stache.com, covering musings and notions on the world of film. He lives in sunny Southern California with his wife and a whirling menagerie of animals.