Ben Affleck’s transformation from Basketball Player #10 to action movie star began with 1998’s Armageddon, but culminated three years later with Pearl Harbor, Michael Bay’s heavily fictionalized account of the the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. It is not an easy movie to watch (because it stinks, you see), and it wasn’t easy to make, either.
While making the promotional rounds for The Way Back, Affleck did one of those “Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters” for GQ. He discussed Good Will Hunting, Chasing Amy (now that he’s made nice with Kevin Smith), and Argo, among others, but saved the best material for Pearl Harbor, which he called a “miserable” experience. (Despite the miserable reviews, the film still made nearly $450 million at the box office.)
“I don’t know how they got permission to do this, but they put us in a boot camp in the actual U.S. army,” he said. “And it was horrible. It was an incredibly agonizing, painful, miserable experience, and I would have definitely quit, like the first day, if I just wouldn’t have been too embarrassed to have it get out that I quit the training.”
As part of the boot camp, the cast members were called by their Pearl Harbor character names, as we all remember that Michael Shannon played First Lieutenant Gooz Wood, obviously. “It was exhausting physically,” Affleck continued, “and to this day, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was really personally satisfying to get through it and to, like, after it was over, have the drill sergeants treat me like a normal human being.”
Two years later, he was in Gigli, which was way more agonizing, painful, and miserable.