Ben Affleck On Playing The Leading Man And Why Denzel Washington Does It So Well

Some of the biggest Hollywood actors are pretty much above reproach when it comes to their acting skills. Denzel Washington is one such star, and even has better performance expectations than fellow A-Lister Will Smith. He’s working with some of the best directors in the game, and his colleague Ben Affleck has now expressed why he thinks Washington plays the leading man so well, and why it’s such a difficult undertaking in the first place.

In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Weekly about George Clooney’s film The Tender Bar, where he plays one of the leads, Ben Affleck broached the subject of acting the star and playing the leading man in films. Affleck explained the difficulty of these tasks, and how getting older, coming to terms with who you are and being able to decode certain feelings makes it all a little more simple. He also sent out some major props to Denzel Washington, saying that it's stars like him that make the leading man role admirable. As Affleck put it:

It’s deceptively difficult to play the leading-man role. It’s like Denzel [Washington], you just can’t help but like him and want to be him and admire him. That’s a level of being interesting so that you draw people in. One of the nice things about getting older, if you’re lucky, is you stop bullshitting yourself and you start going, ‘You know, I actually know where my feelings are. And the more I figured it out, the more accessible that was. I know what painful is and I know what disillusioned is and I know what ambivalent is, I know what nostalgia is.’

While Denzel Washington and Ben Affleck haven't been in a movie together, the two have well over half a century of lead roles between them and two Oscars each. They are heavily respected names in the game, and for someone as accomplished as Affleck to lay the praises on thick to another actor is pretty major.

Despite Ben Affleck and Denzel Washington not having shared the screen yet, they have a great deal in common with each other. We’ve already covered how epic their acting careers are, but they are both also becoming somewhat revered in other avenues of the film industry. Both Washington and Affleck have moved into the directorial world, Washington having recently released A Journal for Jordan and Affleck having a few titles lined up for the future, with the titles already under his directorial belt including Argo, The Town and Gone Baby Gone.

Ben Affleck, just like Denzel Washington, is known for his acting chops, but he also has a long history in the writers room and more directing credits to his name. In fact, both of Affleck’s Oscars are for films he had a larger hand in, while Washington’s Oscars are both for Best Actor. Washington’s immense success as a leading man may just be what makes him so different as a director, and he seems to be in a place in his career where he is being more picky about acting roles. Perhaps he's even getting close to retiring from performing altogether.

Playing the leading man might be a difficult job, but Denzel Washington, as well as Ben Affleck, have shown that they are more than up for it. After years of taking on that position, though, it might be time to see the stars in a different role more often. If you need a refresher on Washington’s epic screen presence, there are plenty of his movies available to stream, whether you have a Netflix subscription or one at HBO Max and other streamers. 

Carlie Hoke
Content Writer

Constantly thinking about books, coffee, and the existential dread I feel from Bo Burnham’s Inside.  While writing I’m also raising a chaotic toddler, who may or may not have picked up personality traits from watching one too many episodes of Trailer Park Boys.