When Ben Affleck turns the camera on his native Boston in Gone Baby Gone, a film about two detectives in search of a kidnapped 4-year-old girl, he doesn't find the stereotypical Hollywood movie faces. He finds people who are broken, struggling and damaged, yet who manage to hold themselves together.
In his directing debut, Affleck says the people he filmed in Boston added a sense of reality and authenticity to his film.
"You don't see anybody here who is complete or all the way together in the way you see folks in a lot of Hollywood movies," Affleck tells Steve Inskeep.
The characters portrayed in Gone Baby Gone are all real people, Affleck says, and he tried his best to make the camera disappear while filming the scenes. In some cases, his crew used tricks to make people feel not self-conscious. He would wait until they got bored or he would attract attention to himself, "the famous actor guy in the middle of the street," he says.
"What we had to have was the people not feeling as though the camera was pointing at them," Affleck says.
Affleck says that one of the most appealing and intriguing aspects of Dennis Lehane's story, which Affleck adapted for the screen, were all unusual, interesting and well-drawn characters that couldn't be pinned down. There was no good and bad, and the morally complex ending left him wondering about the book for a long time, Affleck says.
Underneath the story of the kidnapping, Affleck says, are deep sociopolitical issues that resonate with him — the cycle of poverty, abuse and neglect and how that cycles from parent to child.
In one scene in the film, a young girl is kidnapped.
"At first you think she's a victim," Affleck explains. "But then you see her mother, who is really foul and uses racist language and you see the squalor the girl lives in and your heart goes out to her for where she used to live, not only where she's been taken to. So it raises all kinds of questions about how we're living and how we're treating kids."