Gone Baby Gone - Ben Affleck interview

Ben Affleck

Suspect culture

Similarities with the Madeline McCann case led to the UK release of Gone Baby Gone being delayed but the project was almost shelved before it even got off the ground. Director Ben Affleck tells Kaleem Aftab why

Ben Affleck returns to his childhood stomping ground for his directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone. It focuses on the story of a child who gets kidnapped with the mother a prime suspect and, like Mystic River, it is adapted from a work by Dennis Lehane. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the similarities of the story with the Madeline McCann case led to the release of Gone Baby Gone being delayed in the UK.

‘You see a lot of postcard images of Boston and there is a part of Boston that is worth being put on a postcard,’ reflects 35-year-old Affleck as we sit together in a Parisian hotel. ‘There is also part of this city that looks like what I’ve photographed and shot; bars that are ugly and streets that are full of regular people. What I think is beautiful about that is the very fact that they’re not physically beautiful people, they just look like normal people; some are heavy, others look like they’ve been pushed down by the world, but what is elegant is that they’re holding themselves up with dignity against this force.’

Affleck bought the rights to Lehane’s novel several years ago and admits that there was a certain fear in his heart when he heard that Clint Eastwood was adapting Mystic River and that it would be out first. He says, ‘At first, there was part of me that thought “well I should go find something else to do now as Mystic River is going to be this towering masterpiece and so I should go and find another author to adapt, because I shall inevitably be compared to something that is just going to be way better than what I’m going to do”. Then I thought, so what? It’s not like somebody will have the revelation that I’m not Clint Eastwood!’ It’s a false modesty: Gone Baby Gone is a rollercoaster of emotions and the more entertaining of the Lehane adaptations.

Gone Baby Gone is out on Fri 6 June.