Ben's autograph ain't worth much: 25 bucks
Neither is Sandy's: Same as above
Sandy's high school award: "Most Likely to Brighten Your Day." Really.
SCUM LIKE US Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock talk about the bottom-feeding media and FORCES OF NATURE
So if you've read my interview with Courtney Love, you'll find that I don't like interviewing actors, because for some strange reason they seem to think their private lives are sacred or something. Ha! Okay, yeah, actors are allowed their privacy, sure, yeah, I know, actors are people, too, up with actors, yeah, yeah, I know. But still! Throw us a bone, here! We media types may be scum, we may be inappropriate, and snoopy, and callous, but we're just trying to get the best story, right? Right?
Yeah. So. I got this interview with Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck, co-stars in FORCES OF NATURE. Thing is, not only do Ben and Sandra do the interview TOGETHER, which is kinda lame, but also, the publicist enters the room beforehand to warn us to "keep our questions to the MOVIE, please." Oh, jeez. It feels like we've been sent to the principal's office or something. Feeling churlish, I yell, "So we can't ask about GWYNETH??" Publicity Lady gives me a withering look. "Um. No."
So we're all in a state of stunned silence when Ben and Sandra come in (I'm madly ticking off questions that I can't ask: "Inappropriate. Not about the movie. Inappropriate"). Mr. Cranky of the infamous website finally asks the first question, about their being in the public eye and having their privacy encroached upon by scum like us. Interesting angle. An interview about the act of being interviewed. Mr. Cranky is my hero.
Mr. Cranky: I don't think personal-life questions are really--
Sandra: But that's what sells magazines...Doesn't mean you have to answer it. You notice, I'm always kinda...not-very-direct about my answers anyway. Not that I don't answer them truthfully, but if I find them too offensive--you know, it's always gonna be asked, it's like somebody you meet on the street, people feel like they can cross the line. I think, in that genre, people are gonna try to get as deep as they can.
Ben: I think it's too bad; I think it contributes to this scenario we have where Monica Lewinsky's on Barbara Walters being asked, I think, wildly inappropriate questions. I mean, really, honestly, I don't need to hear Barbara Walters ask about phone sex. I mean, use your imagination, Barbara. It's kind of grotesque--although, I do also think there's this kind of journalistic ethos about "asking tough questions," and I think that can be really good, in a Woodward and Bernstein kind of Pentagon Papers way, you know, where they're really probing the Nixon administration, trying to get at the corruption they're covering up. I think when you start waving around, you know, Voltaire, talking about "the public's right to know" about who you're having sex with, I think that's kind of a stretch, frankly.
(Who's waving around Voltaire? Did Babs wave around Voltaire without me noticing?)
Ben: But certainly, of the things you have to endure, it's rather mild. And the benefits are, you know, quite substantial. So the onus is on you to just say, I don't want to talk about that, I'm sorry.
(WHAT ABOUT GWYNETH??)
Mr. Cranky: Well, it's a double-edged sword, isn't it? Because as a celebrity, you have to sort of thrive on the public's interest in you, yet there's a point...we've seen with this whole Clinton thing, the questions can be even more probing and more inappropriate...where [do] you think that's gonna end--
Ben: If it's not a question you'd ask somebody in a polite conversation who you know, I think it's probably not a question you could ask a complete stranger. Think about asking that question of yourself. Barbara Walters: Do you have phone sex? Well, she doesn't want to answer that. Barbara Walters: Did this man satisfy you sexually? I mean, what kind of questions are those?
Me (tossing in my two cents for no good reason): Yeah, but Senators were asking the same questions, so I really think that whole thing was totally--
Ben: Senators weren't asking quite the questions that--
Me: They wanted to know whether he touched her breast in a sexual way--
Ben: Kenneth Starr was. Kenneth Starr was extremely lascivious about it, and very, I thought, grotesque in the way that he kind of turned a special prosecutor's inquiry into a bad airport sex novel.
Sandra: And there's nothing wrong with those.
(WHAT ABOUT GWYNETH?? NOW IS THE TIME WHEN WE TALK ABOUT GWYNETH!!)
Chick reporter: Because you guys are definitely in the public eye, do you feel limited as to what you do in your private life because it might ruin your reputation? Do you feel you have a responsibility?
(Do they feel they have a responsibility? For God's sake, DO THEY?!)
Sandra: I absolutely think you have a public responsibility; you're obviously influential, and you don't realize how influential you are until you're actually around it. I don't deny myself anything privately that I want to explore, to see what's right or wrong for me. It's what I do in public, and how I conduct myself with other people, that I feel very strongly about. You don't want to say, I'm gonna curb who I really am in order to make the proper impression, but I feel who I am as a person sets a good example. Ben?
Ben: I do feel a sense, nowadays, that I sort of check twice to see whether or not what I'm doing can be misconstrued, or written about in some way, but ultimately, I live a fairly boring life, and still I've been cast as this kind of...
Ben: Something either tawdry or--
Ben: Or whatever, you see yourself in the paper
Ben: and it's quite a thing to find out about yourself. If I got amnesia, and tomorrow, I woke up and wanted to find out what kind of guy I was, I think I'd be pretty shocked. But ultimately, once you start really altering your behavior and changing who you are in order to appease some unseen audience or to manufacture some image you have in your head, you've done yourself a great disservice.
(GWENNIE GWENNIE GWENNIE.)
Reporter: Ben, this is your first leading romantic role in a big Hollywood movie. Would you like to continue in that direction?
Ben: I'm more interested in doing things that I think are interesting; the size of the role to me is less important to me than the performance. Actors I like, that I look up to, range from Don Cheadle to Benecio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, or J.T. Walsh--who I think was a brilliant, brilliant actor while he was alive--I don't think any of those guys have ever been the lead in a "big Hollywood movie." So that's the kind of acting that I want to be doing. And it's not as specific to where your name is in the title--although, I did wish that my name came before Sandy's...
Reporter: That was my question for Sandra. Are you impressed by the fact that it's "Sandra Bullock" first and then Ben?
Sandra: You know what? It's just a ridiculous part of the business, it's just...it's part of the business. I mean guaranteed, it's not gonna be that way anymore. I could care less...[so you try to go with] the alphabetical thing--"B"--you know, you're kinda screwed that way--
Ben (mumbling): This one should have been alphabetical.
(In case you don't remember, Ben's last name starts with an "A.")
Sandra (serious): It should have been alphabetical; it should have had you at the top!
Ben: Oh, come on, you're just being so nice about it (laughs coyly)--
(A guy from the University of Texas paper asks Sandra about Austin and how she lives there. She says she loves it, shot HOPE FLOATS down there, is redoing a house by the lake; she "lives for architecture" and redoing houses. She's "never been happier.")
Guy reporter: FORCES OF NATURE is a message film, I think, and it's a film about romance, it's a romantic comedy. When people see this movie, what would you like them to leave the theater with?
Sandra: Think twice before you get married. You know, "measure twice, cut once"; it's the same thing in building a house, you know, you just--
Ben: That's good! Have you been using that the whole time today?
Sandra: No--you've been with me the whole time today! (Laughing.) I think because of society, we pressure people: "Why aren't you married? Why don't you have kids?" I mean, people have been wanting to marry me off since I set foot in this business, but thank God I haven't done it. I've had long-term relationships that I counted as important--same thing, we just didn't have a paper. And, had I been married, I would have been divorced. I respect it, and I fear the institution so much that I have no intention of doing it haphazardly, or on a whim because we're in a honeymoon period. But then again, I've never met the person that made me say, "I respect you, and you challenge me enough to make me want to go into battle for the worst part of the 'better or worse.'"
Ben: I don't know that there's a message in particular...[but] I'd like them to think about relationships a little bit differently. Most movies show you a very romantic side...oh, you just fall in love. You have to work on yourself to accept love, you have to adjust yourself, figure out more about yourself, and work, compromise, and share, and really invest. It's not just like letting love fall all over you and that's it. It takes some work, like anything that's worthwhile. But, you don't want some fortune-cookie-message one-liner--if that's all they were gonna get, then you might as well hand those out and not make the movie. So I think, hopefully, they'll take a lot of things away from it, in ways that can be communicated by just looking at human behavior in a different way.
The publicist shouts "Thank you!" and ushers them out of the room. What about Gwyneth? We'll never know. It's a brave new world of ethical reporters out there, and they don't ask tacky question like that. Frankly, I'm feeling a little lonely.
Reprinted without permission for fan appreciation only.