Back in 2016, Ben Affleck and co-star Henry Cavill gave an interview during a press junket for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” that unexpectedly went viral, due to Affleck’s forlorn expression while Cavill addressed a question about the film’s tepid reviews.
A brief clip from the interview, with the sound replaced by Simon & Garfunkel’s morose “The Sound of Silence”, went viral, sparking a series of “Sad Affleck” memes in which a screenshot of Affleck’s miserable facial expression was accompanied by all manner of commentary, ranging from “When you put on your earphones and realize that one of them is broken…” to the more pointed “When you wanted to be Batman but now everybody hates you.”
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Affleck admitted that while he personally found the memes to be funny, the affect they had on his children was no laughing matter.
“I think when I was young, people saw me as somebody who had too much or was successful too easily or looked like some kind of cavalier, insincere, callow frat guy. That was nothing like how I felt. I felt like this sort of insecure, anxious, overly verbal kid from Boston who had tried to break into this business and was dealing with his own stuff. But there is an interesting thing about how we come off versus who we are,” Affleck explained.
“I had a therapist once who gave me really good advice. This was 2003 or 2004 and I was really struggling. People were just writing vicious, awful, hateful stuff about me all the time and it really started to affect me,” he recalled.
“The therapist said, ‘What I find about criticism is that if you can look at it honestly and take in what resonates with you, then the rest of it you can let go.’ And that was a process that got me into directing and gave me the confidence to start doing that,” he added.
“I got to a place where [the public perception] was so different from who I am that I just stopped reading and stopped caring. But then, as my kids got older and started seeing the internet themselves, that’s the difficult part. Even the ‘Sad Affleck’ meme — that was funny to me,” Affleck continued.
“I mean, there’s nobody who hasn’t felt that way at a junket. But then my kids see it and I think, ‘Oh, are they going to think their dad is fundamentally sad or they have to worry about me?’ That’s really tough.”