Ben Affleck may be a two-time Oscar winner, but the actor says his greatest accomplishments are his three children.
Affleck, 44, opened up about his career and personal life while participating in a Times Talk at the NYU Skirball Center for Performing Arts on Monday night. When asked what the most defining moment of his life has been, the actor didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“In my career or otherwise, it is the birth of my children,” he said. “The entrance of my children into the world.”
Affleck also gave a sweet shout-out to his ex Jennifer Garner, calling her the “world’s greatest mom.”
“It’s a joy to hang out with them,” he added. “I think the meaning of life is to make good people.”
The actor was there promoting his new film Live By Night, which he wrote, directed and stars in. Affleck called the passion project a “love letter to the ’30s and ’40s gangster movies,” and described it as “the most formal presented movie I ever made.”
This isn’t Affleck’s first time wearing multiple hats on set. He also served as the writer and director for the critically acclaimed film Gone Baby Gone, along with Argo, which won him a Best Picture Oscar in 2013.
But while Affleck may view Live By Night as a career high, he certainly wasn’t shy in talking about a few of his career lows as well. He opened up about the highly criticized 2003 film Gigli, which he admitted was doomed from the start because of his then-offscreen relationship with costar Jennifer Lopez.
“It could have been a bad movie no one cared about,” said Affleck. “Angelina Jolie had a bad movie that year and no one cared. But it was because I was dating Jennifer Lopez that made it a big f—–g deal. So not only was it just a bad movie but ‘they dated each other.’ “
Affleck said he still remembers how the media was particularly harsh after the film flopped at the box office. “There was a reporter doing stand-up in front of the theater that Friday morning, [saying] ‘Here I am outside of Gigli, and as you can see, no one is here in line.’ I was like, ‘What is this, hurricane coverage?’ “
He also discussed his latest role as the caped crusader in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, even jokingly assuring fans that in Live By Night, “nobody is wearing a cape in the whole movie.”
But Affleck has nothing against capes. He recalled that he and close friend Matt Damon actually auditioned for the first Batman and Robin movie on one of their trips to New York together as teens. Sure enough, Affleck was eventually personally approached to be Batman. He credits his 4-year-old son Samuel for convincing him to take the role.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to be Batman’, and he was like, ‘Dad, you have to be Batman.’ He’s right. If you can be Batman, you have to be Batman,” said Affleck. “He still thinks I really am Batman. He thinks I’m in my Batcave right now. Eventually, he will understand, and it will be a steep therapist’s bill, but I’ll take it.”
Live By Night hits theaters Dec. 25.