Ben Affleck Says "Armageddon" Producers Made Him Get $20,000 in Dental Work
The actor says Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer were "focused on aesthetics" making the 1998 movie.
When Ben Affleck played an oil driller sent on a space mission to prevent an asteroid from colliding with the earth in the 1998 blockbuster Armageddon, he had to alter more than his Boston accent. In an Entertainment Weekly interview with buddy and frequent collaborator Matt Damon last year, the actor revealed that he had to get an all-new smile to match director Michael Bay's vision for the film, even though he was playing a blue collar hero. Read on to find out more about Bay's demands and Affleck's other thoughts on the outrageous action flick.
Affleck said Bay and Bruckheimer made him "be sexy."
Looking back over the early days of his career in the EW interview, the now-50-year-old actor admitted to being "a little naive" about the weight placed on his image and his looks. As it turned out, Affleck had a lot of work to do to appease Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer's "focus on aesthetics," he told the magazine. "You guys gotta go to the tanning bed!" he recalled them telling him, adding, "They made me fix my teeth and work out and be sexy."
Bay said Affleck was at the dentist for a solid week.
Bay shared the story himself more than two decades ago in the commentary for Armageddon's Criterion Collection DVD release. "We paid for a set of $20,000 pearly white teeth," Bay recalled, according to The Ringer, also revealing that Bruckheimer suggested the fix. "I always liked low shots that kinda come right under your chin and make you a little bit heroic and he kinda had these baby teeth…So I told Jerry Bruckheimer, 'God, he's got these baby teeth, Jerry, I don't know what to do!' Jerry used a very famous star in a plane movie that he replaced teeth with so he said, 'We did it to him, why not do it to Ben?' So my dentist had Ben sitting in a dentist's chair for a week, eight hours a day."
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It wasn't just his teeth that needed work.
Bay knew that teeth alone don't draw audiences to theaters, however. As Affleck also shared in EW, "Michael had a vision of a glistening male torso in the oil, and he was like, 'That's going to go in the trailer and sell tickets!'" And so in addition to tanning and some pearly veneers, the actor was sent to the gym for the film, which he described as "a long-form version of one of those male topless calendars, in a garage, carrying a tire, kind of greased up."
The strategy worked—the movie ultimately grossed more than $550 million worldwide. Its commercial success, and perhaps the reasons behind it, seem to have haunted Affleck in the years since, as evidenced by his famously (and hilariously) critical commentary on the Criterion release, in which he recalls (via Newsweek), "I asked Michael why it was easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts than it was to train astronauts to become oil drillers, and he told me to shut the [expletive] up."
"It's funny because that's the one movie of mine that my kids have watched and they'll kind of all admit to liking, even though they relentlessly mock it and me," the actor said to EW last year. "'What are you, driving a tank on the moon?' But they had fun, you know what I mean? They won't even watch The Town. So there you have it."
Affleck isn't the only star Bay and Bruckheimer glammed up.
In addition to that "very famous star" (who might be Tom Cruise) in a certain "plane movie" (which might be the Bruckheimer-produced Top Gun), Bay and Bruckheimer have also compelled other performers to undergo a makeover. Kate Beckinsale has opened up about the experience of filming their 2001 film Pearl Harbor shortly after the birth of her daughter, Lily Mo Sheen. In 2019, she told Women's Health that Bay asked her to lose weight and work out for her role as a World War II-era nurse. But she noted that she didn't feel especially targeted as a woman, as her male co-star had received similar treatment. "Ben [Affleck], who'd already done a movie with the director, was like, 'This happened to me. They made me get new teeth,'" she said. "And I was like, 'Cool, at least I get to hang on to my actual teeth.'"