Ben Affleck Talks Bennifer: Convicted Murder Scott Peterson Had ‘Better’ Press

Affleck on Bennifer
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Like any Hollywood A-lister, Ben Affleck is used to bad press. But there’s one period of his personal life that drew a particularly poisonous breed of disdain from the press — his two-year relationship with former fiancée Jennifer Lopez.

“At the time, I knew on some level, ‘This is insane,'” Affleck recalls in the latest issue of GQ of hateful headlines about the romance. “What was that guy’s name who killed his wife and dumped her off the side of a boat?” he asked, referring to Scott Peterson, who is now on death row for murder of his wife Laci and unborn son Conner. “I remember thinking he actually gets slightly better treatment than I do in the press. At least they had to say ‘alleged killer.'”

After shooting to fame following 1997’s Good Will Hunting, Affleck became the toast of the town, as press and fans alike fawned over his and Matt Damon’s success story — childhood pals from Cambridge, Mass., who quickly garnered Hollywood glory after writing and starring in the Oscar-winning film.

But all the accolades were silenced just a few years later. After starring in a string of box office bombs — Daredevil, Paycheck and critically panned Gigli — Affleck sparked a relationship with Lopez in 2002. It was a perfect storm that turned the media against him.

“Unfortunately there’s an aspect of that that’s like one of those fights you see on YouTube where one of them falls down and then a bunch of people who were standing around come over and kick the person,” Affleck explains of the endless ridicule he endured during Bennifer, the pseudonym given to the celebrity couple. “They don’t know them, they have no involvement in the fight, but they recognize a moment that they can get a free shot in, and for some people it’s just too much to resist. And that was definitely me at that point. I was the guy. I was the designated person to loath.”

And Affleck knew that his once-shiny reputation was being smeared. “I knew how disastrous it was,” he says. “It was the last thing I wanted, and I could tell how it was damaging me. But there was still this idea: This is what this guy wants, he’s a shallow guy, a camera whore or whatever. And there was no convincing people that that wasn’t the case.”

But he concedes some of his choices didn’t help the situation. “There were ways I did contribute to it, still kind of naively,” he says. “Like these car dealerships would often say, ‘Hey, do you want to drive around a car? Go take it as long as you like. You can drive this Rolls-Royce for nothing, for free.’ The Boston kid in me thought, ‘This is great! What a deal! I can just drive this car around. Let my friends drive it.’ But then this image of a young guy in a Rolls-Royce was very off-putting to people. Probably be off-putting to me now if I saw it. And I didn’t quite have the wherewithal to be smart about that at the time.”

Affleck and Lopez broke off their engagement in 2004, just months before they were set to say “I do.” But the all the contempt took a toll. “[It] was really bad for me in all kinds of different ways, particularly in terms of my emotional life, my sense of self.”
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