Exclusive Red Carpet Interview: The Way Back Director and Star Ben Affleck
Sports have a way of uniting lives and communities, and of becoming a catalyst for change. In sports drama THE WAY BACK, Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) must overcome a daunting set of personal and professional challenges to return to the game he loves. The movie dives into dark places to explore themes of redemption, second chances, and finding fulfillment in hard work.
“I saw this mainly as a real acting test for me, and it ended up being something more — [it] became a movie that’s actually quite meaningful to me personally as well,” Affleck said at THE WAY BACK world premiere, held just steps away from The Staples Center at L.A. Live.
Affleck's character was once a formidable basketball star. He won state titles during high school and even earned a full ride to a prestigious college sports program. Then he forfeited his chance to take his game to the next level. Years later, hardship has sent him on a downward spiral leading to alcoholism and divorce. When he’s asked to return to his alma mater as head basketball coach, he must rebound in his own life to make a difference in the lives of the kids.
"The [movie has] themes of redemption and second chances — and I’m a guy who’s needed, I feel like, 27,432 chances," Affleck said. Offering that chance is "one of the most graceful and beautiful things we can do as people." The movie's message is, in part, "to embrace our own flaws, [and the] flaws of others, accept that and try to see people who genuinely want to get better and help them."
The raw and relatable script seemed to have a profound impact on Affleck and his co-star, Janina Gavankar, who plays his ex-wife, Angela. Their on-screen intensity was difficult to shut off when the cameras stopped rolling.
"That’s my homie right there. That’s my homie for life," Gavankar said about Affleck.
"[The film’s director Gavin O’Connor] created an incredibly safe place for Ben and I to do whatever it took to get us to the places that we had to go to, to show these people’s lives and we’re really proud of that."
Check out the interview with Ben Affleck and fellow cast members from The Way Back at the world premiere:
THE WAY BACK opens on March 6!
All images courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.