Ben Affleck on How George Clooney Helped Him Maximize Time with His Kids While Filming 'The Tender Bar'

The father of three tells PEOPLE how director George Clooney helped him prioritize his family during down time while filming their new movie The Tender Bar alongside Tye Sheridan

For Ben Affleck, being directed by friend and fellow father George Clooney in their new film The Tender Bar made his efforts to be home with his kids as often as possible a lot easier.

"My life has really changed a lot. Once I had kids, it became very obvious to me that the priority was time with them," Affleck, 49, tells PEOPLE in the latest issue about spending as much time as possible with daughters Violet, 16, and Seraphina, 12, and son Sam, 9, with ex-wife Jennifer Garner.

"George was spectacular in that way. He's a dad too and would let me out on the weekends or cut me early. He really understood and appreciated how important it was for me to see my kids," Affleck says.

Clooney himself is father to 4-year-old twins Ella and Alexander with wife Amal Clooney.

Affleck says prioritizing family over work became especially important "when I got divorced and had half the time. ... So I'm trying to fit a whole week of dad into three and a half days, [it's] hard and stressful. My standards really changed. I don't want to go travel and do something if it's not really rewarding and meaningful. Yeah, I have to work. The kids know I have to work. Their mom has to work. They understand that. But it's not like I'm some martyr for my kids. I get more out of it than anything else," he shares.

In The Tender Bar, based on J.R. Moehringer's memoir, Affleck plays Uncle Charlie, a father figure character to actors Tye Sheridan and Daniel Ranieri, who play the adult and kid versions of J.R., Charlie's nephew. Affleck says he enjoyed having a personal connection to the material and a natural mentor-like relationship with his costars.

Ben Affleck
Matt Baron/Shutterstock

"I have to find a way to make [a role] resonant to me," he says. "Some things are easier, some things are a stretch. In my case, there are some very clear [parallels to my Tender Bar character]. My dad was a bartender. My dad was really interested in writing and literature and storytelling and passed that on to me. And it was a community very similar to the community on Long Island that's depicted in the movie. And now my son is Daniel's age. So it was really easy to fall into that. And because he's such a lovely young guy and such a wonderful actor, it was even easier. And then I also think the relationship between parents and children shifts into a more mentor-y sort of thing when they reach young adulthood, which I was comfortable with because Tye made it so easy."

For Ready Player One star Sheridan, 25, the chance to act with Affleck and be directed by Clooney was an opportunity he did not take lightly.

For much more on Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan, and The Tender Bar, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday

"Getting this opportunity was a lot of fun," says Sheridan. "When the script first came my way, I was obviously blown away by it and excited about working with George and had seen Ides of March and Good Night and Good Luck. I was a fan of his films, directorially, and same with Ben. I saw it as a huge opportunity to learn and work with two people I really admire."

Adds Affleck: "He was so excited and talented and curious. And I don't know whether it was flattery or not, but he wanted to hear what me and George thought about things. And that was fun. You know? We were running through all the movies that we thought [he] had to see and getting in arguments about it."

"That was a lot of fun!" echoes Sheridan. "I'm still working my way through the list."

The Tender Bar is now playing in theaters.

Related Articles