Ben Affleck on What His Relationship With Jennifer Lopez Did to His Career: "I Wasn't Cool and I Wasn't Talented"

Ben Affleck recently appeared on HBO's Any Given Wednesday With Bill Simmons, and in addition to going on a very heated rant about "Deflategate," the actor opened up about the effect his ill-fated relationship with Jennifer Lopez had on his career in the early 2000s. "If you went by what people said . . . I wasn't cool and I wasn't talented," he said. "I was, like, the lowest rung of cool and talented that you could possibly be in the public consciousness at that time. I had broken up with Jennifer Lopez and I had, like, three or four movies in a row that had bombed." By 2004, Ben and Jen had ended their engagement after two years of dating and two of Ben's movies were box-office bombs (Gigli and Jersey Girl), but the tabloid phenomenon of "Bennifer" lived on for a while, which Ben claims turned his life into a joke.

"So that guy had to look around and go, 'Who's below me that I can sh*t on?' And he picked me," Ben said about comedian Robert Wuhl, who had a clip with a joke about Ben featured on United Airlines flights. "He did a whole bit about me that I saw on United Airlines and I [thought], 'This is it, it really doesn't get much worse than this.' That was where I found myself when I thought, 'Hey, I want to take up directing, which is for people that are taken seriously.' That became my mantra — 'I'm just going to work harder than everybody else.'" Thanks to the critical and commercial successes of movies like Argo and The Town, Ben gradually worked his way back up to the top, but he credits estranged wife Jennifer Garner with helping him. "My wife was really instrumental and helpful in me doing a lot of that work because I was just so focused [on it] and it was harder to balance family and all that."

Although Ben's latest film, Batman v Superman, wasn't exactly a hit with critics, he hasn't let it slow him down. Along with spending plenty of time with Jennifer and their kids, the actor has been hard at work filming the upcoming crime drama Live by Night and getting back into the mindset of Bruce Wayne for Justice League.