Old news, but Ben Affleck has stepped in for Edward Norton in Universal’s State of Play. This after Russell Crowe took over for costar Brad Pitt, who bailed only a few weeks before production was set to commence. The movie — based on a six-hour British miniseries of the same name — centers on a House member whose speedy political rise is
threatened by an investigation into the death of his mistress. Crowe plays a politico-turned-journalist whose relationship with the lawmaker (Affleck) is
compromised when he oversees his newspaper’s investigation into the
murder, and subsequently develops a relationship with the pol’s estranged wife.
Can anyone honestly say this pairing makes them more excited and interested in seeing the movie than a Pitt-Norton pairing? After Gone Baby Gone, I’m much more interested in Affleck’s career as a director than I am in seeing him in front of the camera anymore, especially in something where he has to lock horns with a heavyweight like Crowe. Affleck’s on-screen appeal, as it were, was always rooted in a matinee idol’s identification and a nimble sense of cleverly apportioned timing, and maybe that’s why it makes sense to some to cast him as a smooth, glad-handing politician. When he tries to play cunning, though, (e.g., Boiler Room), it just doesn’t fly. Less of this, please, Ben…