Call him "The Man With a Reasonable Amount of Fear."
Ben Affleck may be currently spending his days squeezed into the horn-headed crimson costume of Marvel Comics' Daredevil, but the actor is quick to point out he's no superhero in real life particularly when it comes to "The Man With No Fear's" famously acrobatic fighting moves. Affleck may have put in five weeks of gymnastic training to prepare for the role, but he has no illusions about pulling off the bulk of the complex stuntwork in 20th Century Fox's upcoming DAREDEVIL film adaptation.
"They kind of indulge me by letting me do a couple of things," Affleck says, "and then they say, 'Let's bring in the world-class gymnast. We know you worked really hard for five weeks, but ...' And so that's how that goes. What are you gonna do? You let the [stuntman] do it, and it looks good, and you kind of stand there on the side and watch him and go, 'Wow, I can really do triple flips!'"
As for playing DD's alter ego, crusading attorney Matt Murdock, that's a little more up Affleck's alley though he's facing a unique acting challenge in trying to portray the radar-like ability that allows the blind hero to sense objects in a 360-degree radius around him.
"It's hard because is he blind or is he not blind?" Affleck says. "I don't have eyes all around the back of my head, so I have to perform all these tricks. I got them to give me these contact lenses that actually make me blind, but the problem with that is then I really do walk into tables and stuff, which he wouldn't do, because he's a superhero. So it's a challenge and we're working on it."
Talking up DAREDEVIL while doing the press rounds for his upcoming Tom Clancy thriller THE SUM OF ALL FEARS, Affleck says the decision whether or not to play ol' hornhead was never really a decision at all. He was simply too big a fan to turn down the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"That was a no-brainer to me because it doesn't really matter what happens," he says. "That was a comic book I loved so much when I was a kid, that if I didn't do it, I'd always just hate myself afterward."
Of course, there are other good reasons to star as a screen superhero, Affleck points out.
"The great thing about movies like this one of the other reasons to do them is that they're really the single thing that can motivate me to get into shape, because otherwise I won't do it," he says. "When people are hounding me, going, 'The studio really wants you to be doing the flips,' I kind of go, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right.' So I go down and work out and try to do the flips."
Set for release in 2003, director Mark Steven Johnson's big-screen DAREDEVIL co-stars ALIAS' Jennifer Garner as the hero's assassin lady love Elektra, Colin Farrell (HART'S WAR) as his archenemy Bullseye, Michael Clarke Duncan (THE SCORPION KING) as the hulking crime boss known as the Kingpin, and Jon Favreau (SWINGERS) as Matt Murdock's law partner and friend, Foggy Nelson.
With SPIDER-MAN's record-breaking opening weekend at the box office seeming to signal that the day of Marvel heroes has arrived at last, it's a safe assumption that the DAREDEVIL team will be under considerable pressure not to drop the billy club, so to speak. Reacting to SPIDER-MAN's amazing commercial success, however, Affleck characteristically makes fun of what it all means to his costumed superhero flick.
"There's no money left!" he cracks. "SPIDER-MAN has all the money!"