It’s official…

Posted on Mar 6, 2000

It’s official now, as previously reported, Ben Affleck will join Michael again for “Pearl Harbor.”

Affleck serves ‘Harbor’ duty for no upfront

By Anita M. Busch

Ben Affleck is the second high-profile actor to jump aboard Disney’s “Pearl Harbor” for filmmakers Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay, despite the project’s budgetary restrictions on casting. Negotiations were completed late Friday night on a deal by which Affleck will take no money upfront for the lead role.

“Harbor” is emerging as a case of talent rallying around talent. Cuba Gooding Jr. was first to come aboard for Bruckheimer and Bay. The involvement of Affleck and Gooding Jr. comes after the filmmakers’ very public, very bumpy negotiations with the studio to get the project greenlit. Adding to the interest from A-listers is Randall Wallace’s gritty, engaging script, several sources said.

Both actors are friends of the filmmakers. Affleck was cast in the Bruckheimer-produced, Bay-directed “Armageddon” before winning a best original screenplay Oscar for “Good Will Hunting”; Gooding Jr. plays in Bruckheimer’s hockey league.

Gene Hackman, who has worked with Bruckheimer on “Enemy of the State” and “Crimson Tide,” might also come aboard, but no decision has yet been made.

Bruckheimer and Bay experienced a rough review at the studio for “Harbor” after the departure of former chairman Joe Roth, who championed the project and gave it its first greenlight. After Roth left, Eisner re-evaluated Roth’s decision to make the film at a price tag of $145 million and had the filmmakers make further cuts to bring it down another $10 million.

Bruckheimer and Bay reduced their own fees and then, because the bulk of the project cost is being applied toward its massive production, were left with only a small budget to cast even the lead roles. The filmmakers plan to re-create fully the Dec. 7, 1941, early-morning bombing by the Japanese of the Hawaiian naval base, a pivotal moment that pulled the United States into World War II. Any budgetary overages must be shouldered by the filmmakers.

Affleck began talking seriously last week about joining the project (HR 3/2). He will play the lead fighter pilot in the story that follows two brothers who fall in love with the same woman. A lead actress has yet to be cast.

“Harbor” is expected to go before cameras in April or May and shoot for six months.

Affleck’s agreement to join “Harbor” delays two other projects: “Cinderella Man,” a Universal Pictures/Miramax Films co-production in which he was expected to star, and Warner Bros.’ “The Ugly Truth,” in which he was negotiating to star with Gwyneth Paltrow. The latter project is seeking a director after Barry Sonnenfeld exited last month to direct “Big Trouble” at Disney.