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German_Scn_News <german_scn_news@hotmail.com>
Wed, 19 Apr 2000 16:48:19 -0400

Apostate Angel on a Campaign of Revenge

Ben Affleck talks about humor, Hollywood
and religious satire - "Dogma"

Schwerin, Germany
April 19, 2000
Schweriner Volkszeitung

In his religious satire "Dogma," American producer and specialist comedian Kevin Smith sends his protagonists on a holy crusade which he has cynically sprinkled with unorthodox gags, biting dialogue and subversive humor. In the USA, this provocative comedy movie even kindles protests from religious groups.

The overnight success "Good Will Hunting" made Ben Affleck and Matt Damon instant celebrities. They play two angels in the controversial religious satire "Dogma." "Better to get people worked up than they doze off over their boxes of popcorn." Not everybody reacted as calmly to the film as Ben Affleck. In view of such godless dealings, the Catholic League in the USA went into such a righteous rage that the Disney giant put a low-key apology at the end of the film and gave the credit for the comedy to an independent.

Meanwhile, producer Kevin Smith has been not only a proven talent in film since "Clerks and Mallrats," but also a professed and biblically devout Catholic. "Dogma" unfolds into a hunt for two fallen angels who, after two thousand years in purgatory, seek to join the heavenly hosts by means of truly devilish deeds in Wisconsin. We spoke with Ben Affleck.

You are regarded as the dynamic duo from Hollywood. Do you prefer working as a pair?

No, we're keeping all roads open, but are just at the start of our careers. Matt Damon and I have been friends since childhood. We had the same dreams and know each other's weaknesses and faults. Now this great success has also bound us together. The more so because I have always had someone who knows exactly what I am talking about. Everybody walks their own road, but we also like to appear together before the camera. Our role models there are Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Did the evil, impulsive angel Bartleby suit you exactly right?

Evil creatures are much more fun that the good. Both of the angels are torn within themselves. They are not all bad. But when you have gotten two thousand years of Wisconsin under your belt, you have to figure that in as a mitigating circumstance. In any case, we were completely free in forming our roles. Nobody could talk us into anything, not only that, there is no union for heavenly hosts.

There's already more than enough annoyance about the film ...

What is theater supposed to do?

Okay, it was clear to us that the Pope would not exactly be so thrilled as to fall off his throne. But I don't understand what people are getting so excited about. When the storm of indignation dies down, you will find nothing anti-Catholic in "Dogma." Everything in there was done tongue-in-cheek.

Are you enjoying people's annoyance even a little bit?

I love talking things over controversially. That way one is most likely forced to re-think his own position. As soon as people become dogmatic, I start to provoke them. A controversial film - I accept that as a compliment for our work. What we ought to do next is a film about these New Age fairy tales. Or one about Scientology. But no, that would be too dangerous.

You are getting a $12 million offer. Do that put pressure on you?

Enormous. When it came out that Matt and I were working on a film script, things got totally hysterical. Sometimes I think that I should keep $100,000 and give away the rest.

But you've also played in "Armageddon"?

That was a giant film. One was part of the machinery that resolutely went its own way. I often had the feeling that I had actually landed in one of the films that I loved so much as a child. I was at NASA, even in a real space shuttle. But you can't help but notice that, in the end, you are only one small cog in the operation of this gigantic business strategy.

Interview: Dorothee Lackner


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