On the list of things I wish to never do again: Arrive at 5 p.m. for media check-in and wait almost two hours in nippy, windy, drizzly weather. Man, the things I do for Coda.
On the coldest day in several months, the Affleck boys came to town to screen their new film, Gone Baby Gone. The crime drama, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), was directed by Ben and stars his younger brother Casey. The screening for the film, Ben’s directorial debut, was part of the Chicago International Film Festival.
Ticketholders stood in line around the block of the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.), and fans (and one dog) showed up with photos, magazines, and even a life-size cutout for Ben to autograph.
Shivering and rubbing my hands together as I waited behind the velvet rope, I tried to entertain myself by remembering useless Ben trivia. I almost laughed out loud when I remembered that the elder Affleck was once the subject of a pretty horrid love song by Jennifer Lopez, titled “Dear Ben.” And then I felt ashamed for even knowing that piece of information.
Finally, the boys arrived—45 minutes behind schedule, Casey first, then Ben about 10-15 minutes later.
One of my favorite moments came when Ben was being interviewed. The traffic on Southport had been moving slowly but smoothly for the most part—until some guy grew extremely impatient and let out an extended honk as he drove by—not caring that, clearly, there was something “important” going on, with red carpet, celebrities, media, and tons of fans everywhere.
To the honker passing Music Box on Southport at about 7 p.m.: You are my hero.
The Affleck boys wore matching, preppy outfits: button-downs under sweaters, blazers, and jeans. Casey’s twist included a hat, tighter jeans, and Chucks.
Again, the good people at CIFF set up the red carpet such that the still photographers got mostly back shots. And that’s how I was able to see that Ben was wearing Seven corduroy jeans and that Casey had a small tear in the back seam of his jacket. Compelling stuff.
Both actors were gracious to fans, who had been barricaded behind the photographers. The boys signed a fair number of autographs before disappearing into the theater for the screening of their film.
As for the cardboard cutout, which had Ben’s head on James Dean’s body, Affleck said, “Could have been worse—a lot worse,” he said.
He’s right. It could have been Ben’s head on J-Lo’s body wearing that infamous green Versace dress.
Photography: Esther Kang