Thrilling drama Runner Runner releases starring Ben Affleck as online poker tycoon Ivan Block, whose empire is the backdrop to a twisted story of seduction, crime and manipulation. Justin Timberlake stars as a college student who wins big in poker, but is ripped off by gaming mogul Ivan Block aka Ben Affleck. When he learns that the scamming site is hosted out of a remote island, he jets off to confront Ben Affleck and the drama follows.
How does it feel to play a bad guy, especially since you’ve played so many good guys in the past?
Yeah, I was really excited to get a chance to play a guy like this. This character is in the mould of great cinema characters from history like Michael Douglas’ character in Wall Street and others. Seductive, you know unapologetic, that kind of thing, so I was thrilled. The writing alone just made me excited to get a chance to play it.
What are the attractions of online gambling?
I think online gambling is sort of gambling on crack. We’re in a casino now and here you have to come in and take your credit card out and get some money and sit down and play cards and if you lose there is a sort of process to it and you can go home and sort of separate yourself from that. The thing about online gambling is that it’s never away, it’s always accessible. So, if you have an issue with gambling, it’s sort of designed to take advantage of that. That’s what I think is really insidious about it and kind of pernicious.
Do you play poker?
I don’t really. There’s a home game I play in LA once every two weeks which is a very friendly game with other actors and not a lot of money. I also do a fair amount of charity events. Hank Azaria has one that’s quite successful, and we throw one for the Eastern Congo Initiative that raises a lot of money. It’s the opposite of taking advantage of people - you enjoy the competition of it but it’s for a good cause.
Are you a natural risk taker?
I would say definitely now in my life the risks that I take I channel into my creative work. I think it’s really important to take risks as a filmmaker and an actor and a writer, otherwise you’re just repeating something that someone else did. I don’t ride a motorcycle any more - I’d rather have the risk of failure being somebody not liking my movie than totaling my motorcycle on the freeway.
In some ways it’s a surprise to see you still taking on acting roles when your directing career is taking off. What is your criteria now for picking a role?
It’s ‘What do I finding interesting? What do I feel like I want to do?’Part of it is just the urge to keep doing something different, and this is totally different from the other stuff I did over the last couple of years. The movie I’m starting now (Gone Girl) I took to work with David Fincher. Going forward, what I’d like to do is to try and balance movies that live more in the pop culture vein with movies that are more serious-minded, although I think you have to approach everything pretty seriously if you’re going to do it.