[Tokyo Flashback] Ben & Casey Affleck in Japan

I first met Ben Affleck when he just drifted into the Lexington Queen in Tokyo all by himself and hung out at the bar being friendly to everyone and quietly taking in the action at the dub. He was a rising star back then, and one of the nicest laid-back celebrities I have ever met.

I spent considerable time with this great guy whenever he visited Tokyo. On one of his visits I had a big bonus — Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler’s actress daughter, Liv, who’s not only beautiful and talented but also fun and really nice. Both were in town to promote the film Armageddon.

Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck and Bill Hersey at the Lexington Queen

Ben’s acted in films since 1984 and gained fame when he worked with now superstar Matt Damon as an actor and co-writer of Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting. His career went down in 2003 and 2004 with a couple of film flops. He made a comeback in 2006 with Hollywood Land.

Ben, before his marriage to Jennifer Garner, was considered to be a ladies’ man. He had a romance with Gywneth Paltrow and was later engaged to Jennifer Lopez. Remember the couple’s nickname “Bennifer”? He also really enjoyed meeting a lot of the foreign models when he partied here in Tokyo.

Now from all appearances, his marriage with dare-devil co-star Jennifer Garner is a happy one. Check Movie Plus for more on that dynamic lady. Ben is actively involved in politics, keeps busy with some very worthwhile charity projects, and is a devoted husband to his wife and almost three-year-old daughter Motet Anne.

Bill Hersey, Casey Affleck in Tokyo Lexington Queen

Ben’s younger brother Casey Affleck has been doing very well recently. He’s been in Ocean’s Eleven and ‘Darken, Good Will Hunting and the raunchy American Pie series. My favorite work of his was his first movie in the 1990’s To Die For where he worked with Nicole Kidman and Joaquin Pheonix.

He’s married to Summer; Joaquin and the late River Pheonix’s sister. They have a three and a half year-old son called Indiana August. Casey also partied at the LEX and became friends with a group of US jet pilots I introduced him to. You can see Casey with Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jessie James by Robert Ford, which Warner Brothers released in Japan.

Ben Affleck’s Tokyo Diaries

Ben Affleck with two sumo wrestlers at Lexington Queen.

The next time I saw Ben he was here with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and we did a big party at them for their the film Pearl Harbor. In early summer of 2001, Buena Vista International Japan hosted a “super premiere” of “Pearl Harbor” at Tokyo Dome on June 21, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Michael Bay, star Ben Affleck and top Buena Vista international execs flew in for the gala.

Special guests that evening included high-ranking Japanese government officials, diplomats, business leaders and show business personalities. I’m looking forward to spending time with Jerry, Michael and Ben all of whom I know from their “Armageddon” promo here a few years ago.

Two Japanese friends of mine are in the film. Mako was in “The Sand Pebbles” with Steve McQueen and the Broadway show “Pacific Overtures,” and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa whose credits include “The Last Emperor” and “American Me.” Nice to see they are doing so well.

Ben Affleck with Bill Hersey at Lexington Queen.

The film has renewed interest in Pearl Harbor and, in keeping up with the times, the History Channel will show a two-hour documentary, “Tora Tora Tora-Pearl Harbor” on Saturday, July 7, from 8 to 10 p.m. If you don’t get the History Channel, try to watch it with a friend who bas it.

By the way, I partied at the Lex with all here for “Pearl Harbor” (Ben Affleck was great). Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Michael Bay, actor Ben Affleck and their entourage were there for a Buena Vista party after the local premiere of “Pearl Harbor” at Tokyo Dome.

Thanks to B.V. Japan’s Managing Director Dick Sanno and long time friend Terri Ritzer Meyer, Senior Vice President, International Publicity, for Buena Vista International, I was able to set up a party at the Lex for producer Bruckheimer, director Michael Bay and superstar and super nice guy Ben Affleck.

Jerry Bruckheimer in Tokyo for National Treasure
Dick Sano and Jerry Bruckheimer have shared many memories together in Tokyo

The club was wall-to-wall beautiful people (models, Japan showbiz) that night, and the Hollywood group partied until 4 a.m. Happy to report success has not spoiled Affleck. He, as you’ve probably read, is having a drinking problem and spent some time in a rehab center. I’m sure, with his strength, character and the support of his friends, he’ll solve it.

A week or so later, I was walking in Roppongi when a couple of guys approached me and said, “We’ve been looking for you. We heard you had a party for Ben Affleck, and People Magazine would like a few comments.”

I told them the truth: he was just as great as a few years ago when he was here to promote “Armageddon.” He had a couple of beers-that’s what most people do at parties, and he didn’t even get close to getting drunk. He was really down-to-earth, nice to everyone and obligingly signed autographs and posed for photos with some of his many fans there. I read the article in People later, and they didn’t use my comments but quoted a silly-ass 21-year-old lapdancer at another club. According to her, “He was pretty drunk and walked around to the club’s different stages, wanting to be noticed.”

I’ve spent some time with Ben and, believe me, he doesn’t have to try to be noticed. He is noticed wherever he goes. I can safely say he didn’t notice or pay any attention to the one who made those statements. Oh, well, what would you expect from that kind of “lady.” I recently met with Rolling Stone Magazine musical editor Misha Anderson and, when I told her the story, she said, “Unfortunately that’s what sells magazines.”

Another evening, I sat by one of Hollywood’s hottest producers, Jerry Bruckheimer, at a “Pearl Harbor” dinner at Nobu’s. It was a great opportunity to get to know this dynamic and talented man. Jerry told me he was involved in three new productions, including “Black Hawk,” about the U.S. military tragedy in Somalia, directed by Ridley Scott and shot on location in Morocco. After the World Trade Center attack, release has been put on hold.

Spring 2004

UIP brought in one of my favorite actors, Ben Affleck, to promote the film “Paycheck:’ Ben, as you probably know, won a screenwriting Oscar with his buddy Matt Damon for “Good Will Hunting:

I got to know and really like the guy when he was here to promote “Armageddon,, and “Pearl Harbor” for Buena Vista, and I set up parties for him and the producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, director Michael Bay and other stars of the films at the Lex.

Believe me, you couldn’t meet a nicer guy. He was one of the first superstars to visit sailors and marines aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in the Persian Gulf, he was grand marshall for the Parade at the Daytona 500 car race this year, and he is involved in all kinds of charity projects. 

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