Making a movie with Terrence Malick is unlike any other experience for an actor. The reclusive director shoots and shoots and shoots, barely relying on a script and pushing his ensembles along with new ideas that he later cuts into the finished project. Ben Affleck, who stars in Malick’s latest, To the Wonder, didn’t get the memo before signing up.
“The experience of [shooting To the Wonder] seemed half-crazy in that we didn’t really have dialogue, so I didn’t really know what was happening,” Affleck told GQ in Dec. 2012. “It was kind of a wash for me in terms of learning something as an actor, because Terry uses actors in a different way — he’ll [have the camera] on you and then tilt up and go up to a tree, so you think, ‘Who’s more important in this — me or the tree?’ But you don’t ask him, because you don’t want to know the answer.”
Affleck isn’t the only actor ever to be left in the dark on a project. Whether it’s an actor turning down a movie based on an incomprehensible pitch, reading a script that they couldn’t ground in their own reality, or performing in a movie without ever considering the material, actors are routinely in a state of “not understanding.” Sometimes it’s for the best.
Who else couldn’t swallow now-memorable blockbusters? Head to our gallery: “Stars Who Just Didn’t Understand.”
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches