A delighted Ben Affleck sums up life as a film hero

    Ben Affleck is just a regular guy. He’s been to college, he’s loyal to his friends and he works hard. Affleck is also a popular movie star, and while the rest of us are doing odd jobs this summer, he will be watching to see how his new movie, “”The Sum of All Fears,”” survives in the box office against this summer’s heavy hitters.

    “”The Sum of all Fears”” is Hollywood’s latest adaptation of author Tom Clancy’s spy novel of the same name. In the past, the principle character of CIA agent Jack Ryan has been played by Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin, but the role has since been passed on to Affleck.

    “”Getting to play Jack Ryan is sort of like getting to play Hamlet,”” Affleck said about his decision to take on the role. “”It was kind of a no-brainer for me.””

    To accommodate the younger Affleck in the role, the filmmakers chose to portray the character of Ryan at the beginning of his career. The change in plot, however, did not deter Affleck, who is a self-professed “”huge fan”” of Clancy’s novels.

    “”I was just kind of a fan going in [to the project], and then as a fan being asked to be part of something that you’d always admired is a really big deal,”” Affleck said. “”I thought [“”The Sum of All Fears””] was kind of a thinking man’s or woman’s movie and I thought they took some really bold choices.””

    “”The Sum of All Fears,”” which began filming in early 2001, packs some radical plot components that are shockingly similar to current national events. Affleck, however, is confident that the movie still has an audience among American moviegoers.

    “”We started off making a kind of scapist political thriller, and the movie didn’t change, but the audience changed and now that political thriller has become a drama,”” Affleck said.

    Bold plot lines aside, the opportunity to star alongside Morgan Freeman, who plays CIA senior agent William Cabot, excited Affleck most. Affleck equated the experience of working with the famous star to that of having a chance to play basketball with Michael Jordan.

    “”I was respectful of Morgan, bordering on sort of reverential, probably bordering on annoying to him,”” Affleck said. “”I just considered it an honor to be in the same movie as him.””

    Affleck lives a life that many of us can only dream of. His best friend and business partner is Matt Damon, who wrote and stared with Affleck in “”Good Will Hunting.”” Affleck also considers director Kevin Smith a good friend and will be appearing later this year in Smith’s “”Jersey Girl.”” Working with Smith is a completely different experience for Affleck, and one that rivals an appearance in a summer blockbuster.

    “”To be honest with you, in some ways Kevin’s movies are more personally satisfying to me,”” Affleck said. “”Although there is something really fun about being in a movie that is a big flashy thrill ride.””

    The idea of working behind the camera again, as he did with Damon in “”Good Will Hunting,”” also excites Affleck. In addition to helping to create “”Project Greenlight,”” which helps aspiring filmmakers, Affleck is working on a reality/drama TV show called “”Push, Nevada.””

    An ambitious work ethic will be secondary this summer, however, as Affleck will be watching the box office, keeping an eye on the progress of his latest project.

    “”There is kind of a nebulous, unknowable Movie God who somehow, in the course between you taking the movie and it coming out, either smiles or kind of frowns on the movie,”” Affleck said. “”And you just never know.””

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