Why Ben Affleck Jokes He's a Gangster Without a Gang

Ben Affleck from Live by Night
Ben Affleck from Live by Night

Ben Affleck of Live by Night Talks the Cool Allure of Gangster Movies

There must be something about those hats and spats that no actor can resist.

“I wanted to make a great gangster movie,” says Ben Affleck, the star, director and co-writer of the 1920s-set “Live by Night.” “I wanted to make a fun, pulpy, sexy gangster movie with cars and guns and suits and hats and love and betrayal and all that great stuff that goes into the genre.”

Maybe that’s because Affleck relates to those guys. “I’ve always thought of myself as a gangster — but with no weapons and no gang,” he laughs. “So I’m kind of a gangster of one.”

How Ben Affleck Got ’20s Look in Live by Night

The star tells Made in Hollywood reporter Kylie Erica Mar that capturing the authentic feel of the Roaring ’20s was key for “Live by Night,” about the son of a strict Boston police superintendent who turns outlaw, only to cross a powerful mob boss by stealing his money and his moll.

That starts with the real-life locations. “We found places that still look like the ’20s, believe it or not,” he says. “There are a few of them out there still.”

And it includes capturing the chaos of the climactic final scene, seven minutes of mayhem that took a week to shoot. “It was complicated,”  Affleck says. “It had to be done piece by piece. We had to storyboard each shot and make sure they all made sense geographically and knew who was who. It was a lot of work but it’s one of those things  where you put them together piece by piece by piece and you have this big jigsaw puzzle that’s all finished and looks pretty cool.”

Chris Messina on Gaining 40 Pounds for Live by Night

For costar Chris Messina, striving for authenticity meant packing on so much weight for his role that he’s virtually unrecognizable.

“I gained 40 pounds, so it was a fun experience of eating a lot of food, drinking a lot of beer, ice cream, pasta,” he says, then points to Affleck. “This guy, he gave me a trainer as a wrap gift to help me lose the weight. He’s a good friend.”