Ben Affleck Calls the Shots

When the coast appears to be clear, Affleck picks back up, talking about how badly he wants to prove to people (including himself) that Gone Baby Gone wasn't a fluke, that he has more than one good film in him as a director. He knows that some people might look at The Town and think he can make movies only about Boston. But he doesn't care. After Affleck read the script for The Town, he simply couldn't shake it. He began talking to real-life FBI agents and Charlestown criminals who'd done hard time, fine-tuned the screenplay (peppering it with true-crime tales he'd heard), and got $35 million from Warner Bros. to make his film. That may not sound like much money, but Affleck seems to prefer working in stealth mode: ''I'm sure it's one of the smallest movies Warner made this year. Which is great, because you don't get as much scrutiny as Harry Potter. Although I'm sure the Harry Potter folks have it figured out by now.''

As he says this, Affleck's cell phone starts humming. He looks at it and says he has to cut the interview short. His wife, Jennifer Garner, is out of town, and their two daughters are flying back to L.A. this morning with their nanny. Affleck has to pick them up at the airport. ''I'm Mr. Mom,'' he says, apologizing over and over. ''It's not the coolest thing, but what are you going to do? It's life. It's the real thing.''

When Affleck calls the next day, he apologizes again. This time, for dwelling so much the day before on his career frustrations. I tell him not to worry — that there are probably some EW readers still smarting from Gigli who will appreciate the sentiment. He laughs. ''Thanks, man. You've got to help me out in this article. You've got to help me sell the new movie. Don't write endlessly about Gigli. I understand it has to be in there, but...''

Switching topics, I ask what a typical morning is like at home, and what sort of impact getting married and starting a family has had on his quest to reboot. Silence. ''Well, I like to sort of maintain my privacy on that stuff,'' he says. ''But hopefully you get a little bit more mature. You get perspective. My wife is a world-class mom. We understand that being parents is the most important job we have. And she still manages to be beautiful and sexy, and I don't know how she does it, and I'm not going to ask questions.'' He laughs again, and I wonder if there's any food flying out of his mouth on the other end of the phone.

Twenty-four hours ago, Affleck seemed contrite about the films he regrets. Today, he focuses on the ones he likes: ''Good Will Hunting, Chasing Amy, Boiler Room, this little movie called Going All the Way, Changing Lanes, Extract I loved,'' he says, referring to the 2009 Mike Judge comedy that seemed to be on DVD even before its opening weekend was over. ''I probably got the best reviews of my life on that one. I don't know what that says, because the movie didn't make any money, but a lot of movies I like don't make money.''