SELF-assured, smart and engaging, Ben Affleck is a man who's clearly found his stride as he releases his third directorial offering.
Called Argo, the film's based on true events during the Iranian revolution in 1979, and it's already garnering critical acclaim.
"If I was making a political movie I'd say it but this is a movie about imperialism, about democracy and the tyranny of totalitarianism," says Affleck, 40, who studied Middle Eastern affairs at university.
He's come a long way from those days when he was vilified for his film choices, following the glory of his screenwriting Oscar for Good Will Hunting in 1998, with childhood friend Matt Damon. There were successes, such as Armageddon and Shakespeare In Love, but as the Noughties rolled in so too did the flops, such as Pearl Harbor and Paycheck and the unanimously loathed Gigli in which he starred alongside his then fiancee Jennifer Lopez?
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When people had written him off, Affleck put in a sterling performance as the ill-fated actor George Reeves in the 2006 noir drama Hollywoodland, and then Gone Baby Gone which also starred his brother Casey.
Adapted from Dennis Lehane's novel of the same name, he co-wrote the script and directed, and in 2010 he penned, acted in and helmed heist thriller The Town, which earned Jeremy Renner a best supporting actor Oscar.
"I don't think I'm a better actor than director, or better writer than actor. I just try to make movies and to me these things are all co-mingled," says Affleck.
The events of 1979 are like something straight out of a movie. When militants stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took 52 people hostage, six Americans found refuge in the home of the Canadian Ambassador. Knowing they would soon be discovered, Canada and America asked the CIA to intervene.
Agent Tony Mendez, played by Affleck, hatched an outrageous plan for them to pose as Canadian film-makers on a location scout so they could simply fly out of the danger zone.
Part thriller, part pastiche of Seventies Hollywood, one of the biggest challenges the film posed Affleck as a director was its juxtaposition of life-or-death drama and dry comedy.
"The humour was important," he says, "but it was the hardest line to walk. My main concern was making sure the laughs did not jeopardise the sense of urgency or realism."
Luckily, he had the likes of Alan Arkin and John Goodman handling most of the comedy.
"They say directing is 90 per cent casting and it's in evidence here. Everybody knew what they were doing, and often they came up with ideas that were more interesting than mine," he admits.
Although notoriously private, Affleck reveals that his take on the role was helped by the fact he could relate to the character.
"I could identify how being away can take a toll on you because you miss your family," says the actor, who's father to Violet, six, Seraphina, three, and eight-month-old Samuel, with his Daredevil co-star wife Jennifer Garner.
Believability was the watchword, but Affleck "didn't want it to feel like a history lesson because who wants to see that," he says, before revealing that it was his mother who instilled his interest in politics.
"She was a freedom writer and we grew up with a real sense of responsibility," he says.
Affleck may soon be revelling in more Oscar glory, as Argo could well place him in the frame for the best director gong.
Side-stepping the topic, he says: "Right now I'm more interested in humans coming out and buying tickets!"