During Ben Affleck’s L.A. premiere of “The Tender Bar” on Saturday night, the actor turned one simple red carpet press question into a five-minute answer, sharing his thoughts on the ever-changing film industry and why “The Last Duel” didn’t do so well.

The actor attended the premiere with girlfriend Jennifer Lopez by his side and spoke about whether or not his glowing reviews in his recent work in the successive films “The Way Back”, “The Last Duel” and “The Tender Bar” feels different on the inside than it appears on the outside.

“It does feel different to me but maybe not in exactly the way you think,” the recent Golden Globe-nominated actor answered. “I mean, look, part of being an actor, and I guess people don’t like to say this often, but it’s just the simple math of it. At the end of the day, you’re never going to be better or more interesting or more moving than the material and the director. The material, inherently, is the role that you’re playing and as a younger guy, there weren’t as many opportunities to play characters with as rich, varied, complex lives.”

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Affleck explained how some of that is achieved by taking on lead roles and checking off certain boxes that attract large audiences. “When you’re the protagonist, you have to do this and you can’t do that and there’s a certain essential virtuousness that has to be present or people think, well, the audience will lose their ability to identify with this person, and then we’ll lose $100 million.”

He continued, “That may be true in the case of a $100 million, but I’ve found it more interesting and always have, actually, to play rich characters. The similarity, for me, is playing parts in films where I’m not the protagonist, whether it was ‘Good Will Hunting’, ‘Shakespeare in Love’, ‘The Last Duel’ or [‘The Tender Bar’] where I get to be somebody on the side who is allowed to be more complicated, flawed, and interesting.”

The topic led to a discussion on how Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel”, the film that also stars Matt Damon and Adam Driver alongside Affleck, was one of this year’s biggest box-office bombs. Despite being a well-reviewed film receiving 85 per cent raves on Rotten Tomatoes, it barely surpassed $10 million in box office sales since its October debut.

Before Affleck shared that five-minute answer, he proffered his take on director Scott’s previous comments in which he blamed millennials for “The Last Duel”‘s lacklustre performance and told a journalist to “go f**k yourself, sir,” after the writer criticized the drama for being too realistic compared to his previous films.

“I mean, let’s be honest, who hasn’t wanted to say that in a press junket?” the actor admitted with a laugh. “Ridley is at the stage in his career where, obviously, he’s completely unencumbered by concerns about what people think.”

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Sharing his thoughts on the response to Scott’s historical drama, Affleck said, “Really, the truth is that I’ve had movies that didn’t work that bombed, that weren’t good. It’s very easy to understand that and why it happened. The movie is s**t, people don’t want to see it, right? This movie, ‘The Last Duel’, I really like. It’s good and it plays — I saw it play with audiences and now it’s playing well on streaming. It wasn’t one of those films that you say, ‘Oh boy, I wish my movie had worked.’ Instead, this is more due to a seismic shift that I’m seeing, and I’m having this conversation with every single person I know. Though there are various iterations, the conversation is the same: How is [the movie business] changing?

“One of the fundamental ways it’s changing is that the people who want to see complicated, adult, non-IP dramas are the same people who are saying to themselves, ‘You know what? I don’t need to go out to a movie theatre because I’d like to pause it, go to the bathroom, finish it tomorrow,’” Affleck continued.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker, producer, and star added that the industry was already changing before the pandemic hit.

“I remember feeling like, ‘S**t, I really love this movie, and no one’s going to see it.’ I could just tell; it’s not going to land in the theatres. People don’t want to go see dramas. Then the pandemic hit, and ironically, one of the first few films that was rushed to streaming was ‘The Way Back’, and people did see it. I said, ‘You know what? This isn’t bad.’ I would rather have people see this and watch it, and I don’t need to be stuck to the old ways [of doing business],” Affleck said.

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Although the theatrical experience is great and viewers are shifting to different platforms to watch movies, Affleck nods to the change, saying, “I think that’s okay.”

“Actually, the good news is — and I don’t have the numbers in front of me right now — but I would strongly guess that people are watching more [content] now, and are consuming more. So, that’s a good thing and one of the reasons for it is that streamers are doing such great stuff. I mean, the content is spectacular. ‘Succession’? Spectacular! ‘Ozark’? Spectacular! When I started in this business, television, per se, was okay. It was serial programmers creating content and some of the shows were done great but they were still one thing and movies were trying to be art. That’s not the case anymore. You see shows on streaming that are just magnificent,” the actor raved.

Closing out his red carpet TED Talk on film, Affleck confessed that he’s guilty of staying in for at-home premieres as well.

“I went to see one movie theatrically. That movie was ‘Licorice Pizza’. There are probably two or three directors, people like Paul Thomas Anderson and Quentin Tarantino, who have people saying, ‘Okay, I’m going to see two or three movies in the theatre this year, I’ll go see theirs.’”

“I think maybe [‘The Last Duel’] would’ve done better on streaming because the way [studios and streamers] have of identifying and marketing directly to people who like it is really effective. For God’s sake, think of this movie, [‘The Tender Bar’], I mean, Amazon has an enormous reach. Everybody uses Amazon. They may be buying groceries, refrigerators, whatever, but they still use it and you can reach people that way. I think you have to adapt with the times or you risk becoming a dinosaur, as my children tell me.”

The coming-of-age story “The Tender Bar” debuts Dec. 17 on Amazon Prime Video.