It seems Ben Affleck wasn’t serious about his threat to switch baseball team allegiances when the Red Sox lost on his birthday for the 14th year in a row this past August.
Affleck recently told the New York Times that while filming Gone Girl, he refused to wear a Yankees hat for a scene in which his character, Nick Dunne, attempts to remain inconspicuous while walking through a New York airport. We all know that Affleck is a diehard Red Sox fan, so it is no surprise that when the movie’s director, David Fincher, wanted Affleck to wear the cap in this one scene, the actor adamantly refused.
According to Affleck, the dispute went like this:
"“I said, ‘David, I love you, I would do anything for you, but I will not wear a Yankees hat. I just can’t. I can’t wear it because it’s going to become a thing, David. I will never hear the end of it. I can’t do it.’ … It was a one-man riot against the Yankees.”"
For many, Red Sox fandom is akin to a religion–I get that. Wearing a Yankees cap wouldn’t be something I would want to do either, and just the thought of doing so makes most Boston fans, including Matt Damon, very uncomfortable. Affleck might be right that it would become “a thing” that he would never live down. He also probably feels a sense of pride in his stand against the rival team and is likely satisfied with the compromise he struck with Fincher to have Dunne wear a Mets cap.
But I took an Intro to Acting class in both high school and college, so I feel qualified to say that Affleck should have adhered to the true job of a thespian, which is to portray a character so well that the audience is able to separate the character from the actor. The Gone Girl audience should not be watching Ben Affleck–they should be watching Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Nick Dunne. Nick Dunne would have worn a Yankees cap, according to the director, and Affleck should have respected this directing choice as an actor. In this movie, Nick Dunne is also married and having an affair, but this doesn’t mean Affleck is cheating on Jennifer Garner. But he feels he would be cheating on his team if he wears a Yankee cap for a few seconds while in character?
This minor wardrobe detail is not a crucial aspect of the film and nothing about the plot hinges upon whatever logo appears on this hat, so the Mets hat compromise doesn’t change the movie at all. Yet, while Affleck’s refusal to wear the Yankees hat is admirable from the standpoint of the Fenway Faithful, his hesitation to devote himself entirely to a role says something about his talent as an actor.
If Affleck isn’t going to stay true to his characters, he should stick to directing. Seeing him in a Yankee hat briefly in one movie is not going threaten his credibility as a Red Sox fan, and his willingness to venture outside his comfort zone for a role would actually add to his credibility as an actor.