SBIFF: An evening with Ben Affleck
By Emma Craine | Managing Editor of Student Life
January 27, 2013
As Haley and I walked with freshly brewed Starbucks, which clung in our tightly grasped hands, our knuckles were on the brink of turning opaquely white.
The rain lightly fell on my once perfectly blow dried hair, and effectively put to shame all my efforts to not let it frizz up.
Our anxiety and excitement grew to unimaginable heights with each seemingly heavy step we took closer to our destination.
We looked toward the Arlington Theater and noticed that some die-hard fans were already circling the red carpet barrier.
All of them there in the hopes of catching a glimmer of Ben Affleck, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s recipient of the Modern Master Award.
With our press passes proudly strung around our necks, we strutted past the jealous glare of onlookers and staked our spot among the many other media posts and attentively waited for the stars to arrive.
But even before I got to interview one of the recognizably non-famous red-carpet-walkers, my hair was no more than a frizz ball tangled in a mess of cameras and microphones.
As the night crept on and we waited and waited, it dawned on me that this entire experience was such a gift that I was never going to experience in the same way ever again.
Upon having this revelation, I did what any sensible 17-year-old would do.
I took a deep breath, enjoyed the moment, and persisted to laugh my head off all night.
“Who gets to say they interviewed Ben Affleck?” Haley and I each took turns chuckling nervously throughout the course of the night.
The biggest wake up call, however, came when Affleck came within reach of me being able to possibly brush his perfectly fitted suit.
I could see the individual bristles of his equally clean-looking, yet scruffy beard.
Reducing the urge to scream out like a little kid, or be one of the annoying paparazzi who shove microphones in his face, I had to practice extreme restraint and patience.
My mother would have been proud of how I lowered my voice and did not shout at the top of my lungs to get his attention.
But looking back at it now, I wish I had given up one night of my reputation and dignity for even a split second to talk to the multifaceted actor/producer/director.
That would be perfectly worth it for me, even though I’m sure many of the adults in my life would say otherwise.
But as fate would have it, we lost our chance.
All the anticipation was built up and immediately let down as his close presence quickly changed to far away disappointment as he rushed by us before we got could ask him a question.
A missed interview opportunity is one that sits in the mind for a bit, but no matter the circumstances, the night prevailed and we all carried on and continued to have a great time enjoying the presentation of the Modern Master Award.
The experience overall was spectacularly hilarious and pleasant to say the least.
To witness an actor of such prestige–and one of whom kids my age usually associate with a far off land of Hollywood and fame–act like a normal person was quite interesting to experience.
There was no beating around the bush with Affleck, and yet with each question thrown at him by the moderator–Leonard Maltin, who has been the moderator for the Modern Master Award for 22 of the 28 years of the SBIFF–he found some witty comment to sneak in and make the audience laugh and feel at ease.
Affleck’s natural inclination to speak the truth of what is on his mind and ability to be comfortable at all times when answering questions made him that much more desirable to listen to and highly engaging.
One of the spectacles that shocked me the most over the entire night was Affleck’s innate ability to laugh at himself and notice flaws in his past works of art.
Unlike some actors who strive to be perceived as perfect people all the time, Affleck had no problem critiquing his work or making fun of certain roles that he admittedly hating playing.
His unpretentious attitude wrung very well with the Santa Barbara crowd, and made for a much more enjoyable and relaxing evening.
As the night waned on and the award was finally presented by Affleck’s long-time and equally famous buddy Matt Damon, we gave the newly humanized star one last round of applause.
Eyes drooping and my bag of mixed popcorn and M&Ms finished, I reluctantly got out of those velvet, ruby red folding chairs, and once again walked into the cold winter night.
The residue of rain was everywhere around us and sleepy smiles were plastered permanently on our faces.
Exhausted and ready for bed, Haley and I drove away reveling in the experience we just had, and left our dreams of marrying an already-married, famous actor behind in that room full of flashing lights and bright smiles.