George Clooney talked with Ben Affleck before the Good Will Hunting star took on the role of Batman. But Affleck didn’t take Clooney’s sage advice. Both actors have taken on the iconic DC Comics character on the big screen, with varying results. Clooney, for his part, starred in Batman & Robin, which is still considered to be amongst the worst comic book movies ever made. So it’s perhaps not surprising to learn that he tried to tell Affleck not to take on the role for himself.
Ben Affleck played the Caped Crusader for the first time in Zack Snyder’s ever divisive and ambitious 2016 movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Affleck, prior to that, directed and starred in the Best Picture winner Argo, which George Clooney served as a producer on. That gave Clooney the opportunity to offer some advice to Affleck before he officially signed on to play Batman. Here’s what Clooney had to say about it in a recent interview.
“I actually did talk to him about it. I said, ‘Don’t do it.’ It was only from my experience, which is, you know… He did great, though.”
It’s tough to say if Ben Affleck would have been better off had he taken George Clooney’s advice. Affleck’s tenure as the character will always be something of a mixed bag. He never got a solo movie and the movies he did appear in proved to be divisive. Though, many, like Clooney, have praised Affleck’s turn as Batman, despite the movies themselves being something quite divisive.
1997’s Batman & Robin proved to be a turning point for the franchise. George Clooney took on the role after Val Kilmer, who played the role just once in Batman Forever. Clooney’s entry was nothing shy of a disaster, featuring a famously hammy performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, as well as a cartoonish take on Bane and, perhaps most importantly, the “Batnipples.” Clooney also reflected a bit on his short tenure as the comic book icon.
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“[Arnold] Schwarzenegger was paid, I think, $25 million for that, which was like 20 times more than I was paid for it, and, you know, we never even worked together! We worked together one day. But I took all the heat. Now, fair deal; I was playing Batman and I wasn’t good in it, and it wasn’t a good film, but what I learned from that failure was, I had to rethink how I was working. Because now I wasn’t just an actor getting a role, I was being held responsible for the film itself.”
Ultimately, the failure of Batman & Robin, in a way, turned out to be good for everyone. It forced Warner Bros. to reconsider how to handle the franchise moving forward, which led to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. And it didn’t hurt George Clooney’s career at all, as he’s since gone on to be nominated for eight Oscars, taking home two. Clooney will next be seen in Hulu’s series Catch-22. This news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.