Affleck speaks…

Posted on Mar 14, 2000

First of all, I would like to wish a very happy birthday to a friend of mine: Liz Olivera. I would give you her email so that you can all send her a wish…but she would stop being my friend after she gets bombed with all your emails.

There’s more rumblings of casting for Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor project. According to a number of sources, Alec Baldwin is currently in talks to take on the film’s role of the real life Gen. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, a part that Kevin Costner previously negotiated for but chose to pass on when the production could not meet his financial requirements.

Ben Affleck talks on his site ( affleck.com )about “Pearl Harbor.” WARNING, there are some minor spoilers:

“Which brings me to…my next movie and it’s one I’m really thrilled about. In fact, I haven’t been this excited to do a movie in a long time and nobody is as surprised as I am at that. If you had asked me a year ago if I’d be doing Michael Bay’s next movie–and FOR NO MONEY at that–I’d have said you were crazy. And maybe I am, but I don’t think so.

When I got the script I was fully expecting the kind of saccharine, popcorn that was Armageddon. I was shocked, to say the least. Jerry and Michael are working from a script by Randall Wallace (Braveheart) that is uncompromising, true to the accounts of survivors and striving to be the definitive epic on the day that “lived in infamy” and ultimitely proved to be the definitive moment in the greatest conflict of the last century.

Rather than some jingoistic cowboy story about yee-haw Americans getting “snuk-attacked” by cagy “Japs,” this is a much more complex story. It begins with a nation that, according to a gallup poll, is 88% AGAINST getting involved in “the war in Europe” (!!!) It is a place suffering mightily from the hangover of a costly (in suffering) and senseless (in both geo-political and humanistic terms) war where thousands of American boys died in trenches in Europe. It is a place where Henry Ford and Charles Lindburgh lead HUGE rallies where the great applause line goes: “Hitler is our friend!!” The “peace in our time” movement which advocated isolationism in the face of the Axis powers invasions in Europe and Asia–an unimaginable concept in retrospect, but one that had an invincible political currency at the time. In fact, there are many fascinating parallels to the post Vietnam era, where the populace absolutely DID NOT want to send our young men overseas EVER AGAIN.

In the White House, a democratic President is running for his fourth term and facing the fight of his life. His Republic opponent, Willkie, is making great political hay by implying that FDR wants to “Drag America to war.” A fistfight breaks out in the House of Representatives after a vociferous anti-wr, anti-FDR speech–each congressman takes and suffers six blows to the face. FDR publicly aknowledges that “The Axis powers will give anything in the world to have me licked the fifth of November!” and he barely squeaks by in the election but only after repeatedly promising “your boys are not going to be sent into any foriegn wars!”

An advisor to FDR, Mccollum, puts forth an internal memo indicatating that they fully expected that “upon defeat of England, the United States could expect an immediate attack from Germany.” Yet FDR simply did not have the support of the populace to enter the war–just lending the British a few ships had caused a political shitstorm on capital hill and lead FDR to have to employ his famous “garden hose” analogy in a “Fireside Chat” the thrust of which being “If your neighbor’s house is on fire, you lend him your hose…”

At a terrible political crossroad, FDR was stuck. Until that day in 1941, when a fleet of Japanese Battles ships, attack fighters and a group of bombers led a shockingly brazen assualt on the US Naval base at Pearl harbor, leaving 2403 Americans dead and 1178 wounded in less than an hour. The Japanese lost less than two hundred men, and only one was captured.

The movie will capture, using the most advanced special effects, and reproduce the exact events of that terrible day. if there is one thing I am certain of, it is that Michael’s emormous visual storytelling talents will bring the attack sequence a sense of horrifying realism and terrible majesty. The third act of the movie is also culled from true wartime events in the pacific (and I don’t want to give anything away) but it is truly gripping and extremely well executed in the script. the fictional love story that Mr. Wallace crafted (a la Braveheart) is well done and entirely absent false sentimentality. Suffice it to say that there is (I believe) very good reason that Michael, Jerry, the rental houses, and so many crewmembers and actors (including me) have waived our “fees”: we want to make a good movie–and we want every nickel up on the screen to help tell the story. Ultimitely, I’ve found, it’s a lot more satisfying to make a movie you can be proud of than it is to cash a big check. This time, we’re taking the route of the former. I hope you’ll like it. Memorial Day 2001.”