Making an in-person appearance at today’s Deadline Contenders London alongside his producing partner Grant Heslov, Clooney said Good Will Hunting star Affleck is “coming to the age where you get to grow into certain parts.”
“I’m at the age where you grow out of them but he’s growing into them,” added Clooney.
“This was exactly the right time for Ben and he was the first person we thought of [for the film].”
Clooney went on to joke that “Ben did OK with Batman but has only been named ‘sexiest man alive’ once”, while stating: “I don’t think anyone would argue that of all the batmen I’ve been the best.”
Heslov added that Affleck is “funnier than most people I know,” citing his comic scenes in Good Will Hunting.
Scripted by The Departed Oscar winner William Monahan and based on J.R. Moehringer’s 2005 memoir, The Tender Bar is about the author’s experience looking for a father figure in the patrons of his uncle’s Long Island bar. It also stars Tye Sheridan, Lily Rabe, Christopher Lloyd and newcomer Daniel Ranieri.
Clooney explained the source material reminded him of his own upbringing.
“I related very much to this story” he added. “My dad used to give me 50 cents to buy a bag of cigarettes from the machine in a bar.”
Clooney also heaped praise on Ready Player One star Sheridan, who plays Moehringer as a young man, and especially Daniel Ranieri, a first timer who plays the future author as a child. Clooney had seen a viral video shot by his mother, in which the youth railed about “the fu*king lockdown” from the Covid pandemic that left him housebound. He saw the young man was taping Jimmy Kimmel and called the host, who put Ranieri on the phone to read some lines that convinced Clooney and Heslov the young man could handle the role.
“I worked with a lot of kids on ER and you just want to murder them,” he said. “But we saw Daniel on Jimmy Kimmel and I said to Jimmy ‘Tell him not to take any more jobs’. There’s a seven-page scene in a car with his father and he did it in one take. Ben or I couldn’t do that.”
Amazon Studios opens the coming-of-age drama December 17 in Los Angeles and New York, followed by a national rollout five days later. The film will be available globally for streaming January 7 via Amazon Prime Video.
Check out the panel video above.