Ben Affleck Blasts Paparazzi Who Follow Kids: “It’s Wrong and Disgusting”
Ben Affleck talks about how the paparazzi harass his children and coping with nasty gossip in a new Playboy interview. The actor says that his high-profile relationships (with Jennifer Lopez a decade ago, and with wife Jennifer Garner now) have been fodder for brutal tabloid treatment, what he calls “the crucible by flashbulb.” “It was magazines then, and those days are more or less gone. Now it’s online, but it’s the same thing,” says Affleck. “At the nadir of that I felt I was being treated worse than [convicted wife murderer] Scott Peterson, who at least got the benefit of the word alleged when they talked about him.”
He tells the outlet, “I felt like I was at the bottom. I became the guy people could kick around, even if they hadn’t seen the movie, because they saw other people taking shots. I thought it was unfair.” Eventually, Affleck refused to let himself be sucked into the tabloid vortex. “Once I saw my way out of it, I said, You know what? I don’t even care anymore,” he tells Playboy. “I’m going to focus on my job. I don’t give a sh*t. Take my picture. Write what you want to write. At the end of the day, what you write in a gossip column doesn’t matter. What matters is how the movie works.”
But when he had kids, he had to draw the line. Affleck explains, “You can say what you want about me. You can yell at me with a video camera and be TMZ. You can follow me around and take pictures all you want. I don’t care. There are a couple of guys outside right now. Terrific. That’s part of the deal.” “But it’s wrong and disgusting to follow children around and take their picture and sell it for money,” he says. “It makes the kids less safe. They used to take pictures of our children coming out of preschool, and so this stalker who had threatened to kill me, my wife and our kids showed up at the school and got arrested. I mean, there are real practical dangers to this.” It was that frightening stalker situation that really made Affleck fearful for his children.
“He was in the pack of paparazzi,” recalls the actor. “They didn’t know he was a guy who was threatening to murder our family. That makes me angry. It’s a safety thing, and there’s also a sanity thing.” He continues, “My kids aren’t celebrities. They never made that bargain. We were offered a lot of money to sell pictures of our kids when they were born. You’ll notice there aren’t any. I make no judgment about people who decide differently; a lot of them give the money to charity. For me it was a matter of principle. I didn’t want someone to be able to come back and say I was complicit, that it wasn’t a question of principle as much as price.” Affleck takes shielding his children very seriously.
“As their father it’s my job to protect them from that stuff,” he says. “I try my very best, and sometimes I’m successful.” He goes on to say, “The tragic thing is, people who see those pictures naturally think it’s sweet. They don’t see the gigantic former gang member with a huge lens standing over a four-year-old and screaming to get the kid’s attention.” “The kids are always looking down because they’re freaked out and scared of these people. And so they yell. Which is fine if you’re Lindsay Lohan coming out of a club, or me or any adult,” remarks Affleck. “With kids it’s tasteless at best.”