Ben Affleck has offered a “thank God that‘s over” recap on the bad old Bennifer days in a Details interview with Mark Harris. I can relate. I can look back at my life in ’02 or ’03 and feel good about this or that thread being absent from the current fabric. But when you’re “there,” you’re there. You have to play what’s dealt.

Harris: “By 2003, you were the star of two potential franchises, Daredevil and The Sum of All Fears, that didn’t go forward. We probably knew more about your romantic life than you would have preferred. And then Gigli. I don’t think a lot of people would have said, ‘By 2012, this guy will have directed three very good movies.'”

Affleck: “In our culture, we get very much into shorthanding people. And I got shorthanded as That Guy: Jennifer Lopez, movies bombed, therefore he must be a sort of thoughtless dilettante, solipsistic consumer blahblahblah. It’s hard to shake those sort of narratives. If you were looking at that one-liner on me in 2003, which was definitely the annus horribilis [laughs] of my life — it’s funny how that rhymes with Sacha Baron Cohen‘s pronunciation of ‘ah-noose’…

Harris: “Well, you were kind of in that place.”

Affleck: “Exactly! I made a bunch of movies that didn’t work. I was ending up in the tabloids. I don’t know what the lesson is, except that you just have to find your compass.

“I liked Sum of All Fears. Daredevil I didn’t at all. Some movies should have worked and didn’t. At a certain point, it’s just up to the movie gods. Anyway, this image becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I just said, ‘I don’t want to do it anymore. This is horrible. I don’t want to be in this spotlight, this glare, in this way. It’s tawdry, it’s ugly, it’s oppressive, and it’s inane. So I’m going to try to get away.'”

Every now and then it hits me that the term “movie godz” really is swimming and swirling around out there, even if some people spell it wrong.

“And most of the way I did that was by not acting. I said, ‘I’m going to steer myself toward directing. I’m going to do something that takes me toward a place where the work that I do is reflective of what I think is interesting dramatically.’ People bring up 2003, and I get it. Jennifer Lopez, and Gigli, and all this shit just kind of blew up. But, you know, in 2003, Barack Obama was a state senator in Illinois! Okay?”