Throughout his career, Ben Affleck has faced extensive criticism due to an alleged lack of acting skills, but this perception changed radically when he began directing, and turned out to be very good at it. The accolades earned by Gone Baby Gone and The Town led to Argo, released in 2012. This thriller dates back to events from 1979, when the US embassy in Iran was occupied by followers of Ayatollah Khomeini, and the CIA hatched an ingenious plan to rescue the diplomats. Reception was so good that Argo became the great frontrunner at the Oscars that year.
And yes, it succeeded. Argo won Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing, but at the time it was widely commented that among his 7 nominations none corresponded to Affleck who, in addition to directing, played the lead role. The absence of Best Director or Best Actor nominations was considered a historical snub, which Affleck tried to carry with sportsmanship, but over the years it has become clear that he was hurt. This year he has starred in The Tender Bar and The Last Duel, and as part of the latter’s promotion, he gave an interview to Howard Stern.
A scenario as good as any to relive trauma. That’s why Affleck has decided to speak candidly about what happened at the 2013 Oscars race. “It was the big snub, right? That really taught me a lot. I did everything they told me. They told me, ‘You got to kiss the babies.’ And I schmoozed everybody in the world right. Part of this [is] because you’re the director, but truth is, I wanted it. I wanted it and most people, I think they are probably not totally honest,” the actor, who in 2016 would direct again (with a cooler reception) Live by Night, explained. “And then, and everybody told me, ‘Oh you’re gonna win.’ It wasn’t, ‘You’re going to be nominated.’ It was, ‘You’re a lock.’”
“So of course I get up that morning, go sit in front of the TV. And I did assume I was gonna get nominated. You know what, because everybody said I would. So all these people must know. And they read those names, and I remember thinking, ‘It’s never gonna happen. I’m never gonna get it.’” Shortly after discovering he had ben snubbed, Affleck made an angry call to Warner Bros., then realized he had to settle. “If the directors didn’t think I deserved it, that’s their opinion, and that’s fine. I’m proud of the movie. I’m glad Billy [Goldenberg, the film’s editor] and Chris [Terrio, the screenwriter] got nominated.”
“And they’re like, ‘Oh, we got Picture.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, we got Picture, but they made sure to leave me out.’” Affleck doesn’t try to hide how much what happened still irritates him. “We had Editing, Score, Picture. The only guy who fucked up was the lead and the director? I can do the math on who the asshole is here. That day, I had to go to the fucking Critics Choice Awards, which has, if my memory is correct, the single longest fucking red carpet in humanity. Every single stop, you don’t even have to say anything, they just hold the mic and they say ‘So, snubbed?’ You have to pretend that you’re OK, pretend it didn’t bother you.”
“And then we fucking won. So I went up and said, ‘Well I don’t want to thank the Academy.’ Because I didn’t give a fuck anymore. And then, of course, as it happens all the time in life, we never lost another award,” the actor concluded. There is no doubt that Affleck has unfinished business with the Academy, and that the Best Picture award he had to share with Grant Heslov and George Clooney, producers of Argo, is unable to appease him.