Painting ‘The Town’

Ben Affleck has admitted to hanging out with armed robbers.

They’re not his new homeys, but a bunch of convicted felons who helped him research his new movie “The Town.” It’s based in Charlestown, which just so happens to be the top U.S. city for bank robberies.

He says: “I wanted the audience to feel the thrill as if they were committing the crime.”

Your previous movie, “Gone Baby Gone,” and the new movie are based on crime novels. Are they your favorite?

It’s hard to say. The two novels have common themes like people trying to change their lives, questioning the environment they grew up in and children who pay for the sins of their fathers. They’re also about human relationships, loyalty and fidelity between male characters.

After “Gone Baby Gone,” were you in a hurry to direct again?

I was thrilled by the experience, and while the movie was not hugely successful, my goal was to keep doing this, hoping that I would keep learning. It really changed my life because it allowed me to express myself more fully. As an actor, you don’t get to paint the whole canvas. You just have your corner of it.

This is your third Boston-based movie, and your next film, “The Company Men,” is also based there. Do you consider it your true home?

The place you grow up during your fundamental years is imprinted on your soul in a way that can never really be stripped away.

Is Charlestown really the bank robbery capital of the world?

It is the bank robbery capital of America. There are more than 300 bank robberies a year [there]. The Charles­town area in the movie is absolutely known for breeding bank robbers.

Did you meet with any of them?

I’ve been to prisons and met with guys who were serving time for committing bank robberies, weapon charges. I also sat and talked with the Department of Justice and the FBI to find out the procedures and the techniques they use to catch them.

Did they tell you how much they enjoy bank robbery, the feeling it creates …

The guys I interviewed told me there is nothing like the moment they are approaching the bank and those last four or five seconds where the body feels the adrenaline and the heart starts racing. They take a deep breath and then, “Boom!” It’s something I tried to replicate with the camera so the audience would get the sense of realism and the feeling you get committing these crimes.


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