Ben Affleck Says George Clooney Gave Him The 'Best Notes Of Any Director' He's Worked With


Ben Affleck can't stop talking about how much he likes working with George Clooney, and it's honestly very sweet. The very much from Boston actor has dived headfirst into the press tour for "The Tender Bar," an Amazon Studios-produced film directed by Clooney and based on a memoir by J.R. Moehringer, and he has nothing but good things to say about his working relationship with Clooney. The film is all about the love and admiration between a young J.R. (played by Tye Sheridan) and his bartender uncle Charlie (played by Affleck), and fittingly, it seems like the film has fostered a new mentor/mentee relationship of its own.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Affleck spoke effusively about Clooney's directing skills, saying:

"He gave me the best notes of any director I've ever worked with; the most playable, useful notes. It's a function of his having done this job for so long, having done it really well and learned from really good directors. He credits other directors he's worked with but even more than that, it's just as much a credit to his own experience and the time he's devoted to acting and playing the kinds of roles that he has..."

Considering Affleck has worked with a suite of incredible directors over his career, including giants like David Fincher, Gus Van Sant, Kevin Smith, and Richard Linklater, that's quite the compliment. While Affleck doesn't mention it in the interview, it makes you wonder if his time working with Clooney has made him think differently about the way he approaches his own directing. With Affleck's experience at the helm of lauded films like "Argo" and "The Town," he seems to be pretty comfortable in the director's chair, but it sounds like his experience working with Clooney has been pretty singular. 

Affleck continued on with the praise in The Hollywood Reporter interview, giving some concrete examples of what he appreciated about Clooney's approach:

I've had experiences when a director talks for 45 minutes before a scene and it can be circuitous and abstract and you leave thinking, I don't know how to play this. George gives notes that are both about the character's internal life but also the specificity of what's actually happening in the moment. He really is an expert. I'm just lucky that I got the chance to work with him."

There's a lot to unpack in this statement, and 99% of what I want to unpack is who are these other directors? Who is rambling for 45 minutes before a scene? Was Fincher doling out college seminars before every take in "Gone Girl?" Was Michael Bay bombarding everyone with diatribes about the ... symbolism ... in "Armageddon?" I need to know and I'm also mad that I'll never know. This is a blessing and a curse Affleck has given us. We'll always be wondering who is the most annoying director he's ever worked with, but we'll never know for sure.

However, my favorite tidbit from Affleck's interview is this line about some of the notes Clooney gives:

"He can, in a very specific, shorthand way, articulate not only what he wants but he does it in such a way that the choices are so right on the money that you're embarrassed you didn't think of it. Oftentimes, it's simple, like, 'No, that line's funny. This is funny.' And it changes the whole scene and everything you're doing to the point that he makes it five times better."

It is obviously Affleck's job as an actor to take notes from his director, even if they're straight up burns like, "that's not funny," but can you imagine being in the room when Clooney says that to Affleck? That has to sting, even just a little bit.

"The Tender Bar" will have a limited release starting December 17, 2021 and will open nationwide on December 22, 2021 before hitting Amazon Prime Video on January 7, 2022.