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LAFF 2010: Ben Affleck hits 'The Town'

June 22, 2010 |  6:13 pm


The Los Angeles Film Festival is a good place to find the hidden indie gem, but it can also bring out some boldfaced names. On Monday, one of those names, Ben Affleck, took to the stage to talk about his career and his upcoming effort as director, actor and co-writer, the crime drama "The Town."

In an intimate room at the Grammy Museum, Entertainment Weekly's L.A. bureau chief Sean Smith volleyed with Affleck, who seemed comfortable and confident throughout the talk, getting out in front of anything from his career that might now be seen as a sore spot. He acknowledged Matt Damon's recent mega-success when he noted that early in his career, "I had a friend I went to school with" followed by a perfectly timed clearing of the throat. (He would also later say, "I don't worry about Matt's career any more than I worry about Nicholson's career.")

While discussing the making of "School Ties," his first film role, Affleck noted that many of the members of the cast auditioned for director Martin Brest's "Scent of a Woman" and that "Marty, of course, I would later work with," as a way of talking past the crushing bomb that was "Gigli."

The presentation also included a first look at the trailer for "The Town," which costars Jeremy Renner,  Rebecca Hall, Chris Cooper and Blake Lively, as well as three clips from the film. (The trailer will be released to theaters in July for the September film; also shown was an impressive car-chase scene that saw characters through tight alleyways and heavy traffic.)

The film looks like it showcases much of the interpersonal drama and suspense elements from Affleck's previous directorial effort, "Gone Baby Gone" and -- not coincidentally given its Boston location and its producer, Graham King -- "The Departed."

Based on the novel "Prince of Thieves" by Chuck Hogan, "The Town" is set in the Charlestown section of Boston, which Affleck explained has a notorious history of producing bank robbers and armed thieves.  Affleck also noted that, much as he did in "Gone Baby Gone," he populated the background of the film with non-actors from the neighborhood he was shooting, which in this case led to directing convicted felons. Politely.

During an audience Q&A portion of the event, two separate questioners prefaced their remarks by saying the had seen a test screening of "The Town," which led Affleck to ask, "Did everyone here go to a test screening?" Affleck revealed himself as a filmmaker still in process with "The Town" when after the first such question he couldn't help but ask, "Did you fill out a card at the screening?" 

-- Mark Olsen

Photos: Jeremy Renner, left, and Ben Affleck on the set of "The Town." Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures


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