LOS ANGELES — Good Will Hunting — in which they played siblings — fixed the public perception of Casey Affleck as Ben’s younger brother. Casey has since gone on to a solid career as a character actor, most prominently in the Ocean’s Eleven series, but this fall he’s broken out, playing Robert Ford in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Patrick Kenzie in the adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Boston-based crime thriller Gone Baby Gone (directed by none other than Big Ben). At the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, he chats about his big year, his home town, and why smoking crack in your neighbor’s house isn’t always a good idea.
“I feel like I’m a pretty good parent. Never ever would I behave in the least way like the parents do in this movie.”
How are you handling all the attention you’ve been getting? Going to your head yet?
Well, it’s definitely been a good year. I’ve had a lot of years where people didn’t like the movies I did, or didn’t even pay attention to them. This feels nice. On the other hand, you spend so much time saying, “This one isn’t as bad as they say,” to be fair, you have to also respond to good reviews with, “You’re probably not as good as they say.”
But won’t 2007 forever be the year you escaped your big brother’s shadow?
It’s only the outside world that perceives a change. I don’t know anybody who goes through their life thinking, “God, how do I get out of this shadow” — you know what I mean? I’m kind of at the center of my own universe, doing my own thing, and other people have to go, “Wow, you’re great. You’re good now. This must be like a big change.” But nothing feels different for me except that I’m in two movies that people are seeing and responding to — movies that I also like.
I felt I had to point that out since everybody’s going to be thinking it anyway. Feel like a douche for bringing it up, though.
[Laughs.] You are a douche! [Walks to his suite’s balcony.] Mind if I smoke?
Back home in Detroit, my father used to smoke with the van’s windows rolled up. My lungs can take it.
[Casey laughs, but then he starts hacking . . . which he manages to do the whole time he smokes.]
So, what’s the #1 advantage to being directed by your brother?
Then what’s common language for “you’re a dick.”
Uh . . . dick.
How many “you always do this!” Moments were there?
The truth is, actors and directors bicker. There’s conflict, because these are two people who are trying to make something together they both really care about. You’re two different people, though, so you have different ideas. Whether you just met or you’ve been brothers for 32 years, you’re going to fight. The advantage of this was that Ben and I are very comfortable fighting, and nobody’s ego is going to get hurt, you know what I mean?