Two-time Academy Award-winner Ben Affleck – most recently seen in the critically praised The Accountant and in early 2016 playing crime fighting icon Batman/Bruce Wayne in the global blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – now directs and stars in Warner Bros. Pictures’ new gangster film Live by Night.
Affleck plays Joe Coughlin who went overseas to fight valiantly for his country, but quickly found himself utterly disillusioned by the war. He ultimately finds himself back home in, as he tells us, a life he didn’t expect…paying the price for the American dream.
“Joe fully acknowledges that he’s chosen to be an outlaw in a town run by gangsters, with the Irish and Italian mobs at war,” offers Affleck. “What I find most intriguing about him though is that, while he breaks the law and makes his own rules, it’s his own morality that prevents him from considering himself one of them, a gangster.”
But it’s Joe’s inherent sense of decency that could be his undoing.
For the ten years following the war, Joe Coughlin managed to live like an outlaw—under his policeman father’s roof, no less—before it all caught up to him. “The things that Joe witnessed as a soldier made him decide there wasn’t any meaning to the rules we follow in life, to playing it straight,” Affleck states. “He even sees the organized hierarchical nature of the gangster life as an equal anathema to the hierarchy of the military. He wants no part of that, no part of taking orders from anybody. He’s going to make his own rules.”
And he does so with a fair amount of success, so long as he keeps it, as Affleck describes, “small-time, running around with just two other guys and doing little stick-ups, that kind of thing.”
But it isn’t Joe’s distaste for authority, or even an ill-chosen robbery, that causes him to make his gravest error. It’s love. And it’s that singular emotion in its many forms—from passion to compassion—that will continue to be his downfall for years to come.
Live by Night was a true passion project for Affleck, who says, “As a filmmaker, this was a chance to pay homage to the classic Warner Bros. gangster movies of the 1930s through the `70s. I grew up watching them and they had an epic, sprawling feel that really took you into a different world, a different era.”
Affleck adapted the screenplay from author Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name; the two first collaborated when Affleck made his acclaimed directorial debut with his screen adaptation of Lehane’s crime thriller Gone, Baby, Gone. Lehane served as an executive producer on Live by Night.
As a lifelong film buff, Affleck posits that the story has all the tropes that made him a fan of the gangster genre in particular: beautiful women, dangerous men, cops, the mob, shootouts, car chases…the whole fiery, combustible mix. “As soon as I read Dennis’s book I knew that there was something there for anyone who just really likes to have a great time at the movies.”
Opening across the Philippines on January 18, 2017, Live By Night is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.