Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Take a Break in the Boston Common

April 22, 2009
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Affleck_GarnerThe first article I wrote for BetsysView was about Mel Gibson.  Last fall I had stumbled upon the Edge of Darkness set in the Boston Common.  It was total luck and great timing as Mel Gibson greeted the small crowd while he nibbled on the Craft food service spread and I was fortunate that I happened to have my camera with me that day.

Lately, I consider myself to be in the right place at the right time, but these types of celebrity encounters happen by chance. Try as I might, I can’t make a photo opp happen, and, unfortunately, I don’t carry my camera with me every day. Thank God for my BlackBerry!

On my way to work this morning, I was walking through the Boston Common and I saw the familiar ‘signs’ that guide movie cast and crew, typically, to their parking locations.  One swift look to the right and I saw the Boston Common lined with movie trailers. Whoo hoo! It was a sure bet that at some point today, they’d be filming in the Common.  And I didn’t have my camera. (You’d think I would have learned this lesson by now.)

GTX is the movie set code for “The Company Men”, and oh, was I excited!  If you don’t know who’s in the John Wells movie, the lead characters are Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and (sigh) Kevin Costner. Three of the biggest names in Hollywood are filming right here in Boston, and by some accounts, trying to watch some of the filming is as tough as getting in to Fort Knox.

Today, luck was on our side.

On my lunch break, I decided to walk through the Common to see if I could learn anything about when or where they Ben_Affleck_Jennifer_Garner_5might be filming.  I’m not aggressive when it comes to movie sets though. I never know how someone will react, so I tend to listen more to what’s going on, rather than be pushy and start asking a lot of questions.  But, there were two gentlemen who seemed quite approachable, and I asked if they knew when they’d be filming and they indicated they were currently doing so across the street.

Armed with this information, I started walking.  Having passed two trailers, I stopped abruptly.  There stood a man, dressed in a suit, and I thought, “oh, he looks familiar!’ But I questioned whether or not it truly was Ben Affleck.  He resembled him, but many stand-ins look very similar to the actors, so I had to do a triple take – was it, wasn’t it..him…not him….  I figured that the police officer standing between me and this person answered my question. Yes, it was Ben Affleck.

Now that my stopping had garnered the attention of the police officer, I politely asked him if I could take a photo.  He smiled and said, ‘no’.  No?  What do you mean no?  I said, “really?, no?”.  And “no” was the answer.

My mission was accomplished.  Sort of.  I had gone to the Boston Common to spy a celebrity, and I did.  But it was a bit of a let down since I had to ‘keep on walking ma’am’.

Ben_Affleck_Jennifer_Garner_4Disappointed, but not deterred, I kept walking and headed into the Common where they were filming.  However, it wasn’t really obvious where they were filming.  I walked down different paths and found some film trucks.  I stopped and spoke with a few park rangers and we chatted about the movie set.  They informed me that yes, I could watch later, but I couldn’t get close because the Boston police would remove people as necessary.

Mel Gibson’s Edge of Darkness set was gated and we were able to stand at the barriers and watch.  Not so with The Company Men.  They were mobile and setting up gating would have been too difficult.  I didn’t have too much time to spend, so I decided I’d come back after work, hoping they’d still be filming later as they had with the Edge of Darkness.

As I made my way back through the Common, I was on the phone talking to my favorite blogger Lynn DeVries and I was relaying my excitement to her.  All of a sudden, I stopped dead in my tracks. Standing right in front of me were Ben Affleck, his wife and actress Jennifer Garner and their two children.  Whoooa! Unexpected!

I quickly disconnected the phone and turned on that BlackBerry camera as fast as I could. Darn it all! It’s just not the same as a real camera!  I was able to get a couple shots of the Afflecks as they asked for directions and walked up the hill towards the playground.

With a little time still left on my lunch break, I then went into what some may call paparazzi mode.  Oh boy. Can you still be considered paparazzi if all you have is a BlackBerry camera?  Somehow, it just doesn’t seem to have the same impact! For every 1 shot I get, a true paparazzo would have about 60.  You tell me.  Ben_Affleck_Jennifer_Garner_6

I found the Afflecks, Jennifer, Ben, their gorgeous little girl, and the new baby still obviously asleep in the carriage, at the children’s playground. The playground was packed!  The Afflecks didn’t seem to be bothered at all by the crowd, and they were kind and respectful as a few people asked for photos or came up and said hello or shook their hand.

It was all very sweet to see the family taking a little movie set lunch break and strolling through the Boston Common.  And then, it started to rain. Little sprinkles started and the Afflecks quickly stood up to walk out.

I tried to get a photo as they walked towards me, but …well, the BlackBerry isn’t the quickest to focus and shoot.  And as Ben walked through the gate, he looked at me, and while I could be wrong, it looked like I got a little bit of a scowl.  Ha! Perhaps not.

I spoke with a girl next to me who had an awesome shot of the family walking out of the playground and I cursed myself once again for not having my camera.

The Afflecks quickly walked away and I kept a very far distance away. I walked back towards work, and as luck would have it, I walked past their trailer where Jennifer had just pushed the stroller and baby indoors.

I walked through the Common on my way home and found the film crew taking everything down.  It seemed to be a rather unsuccessful day due to the weather, and the hope is that they’ll be back tomorrow when I WILL have my camera (and fresh batteries).  As I walk through the Common tomorrow, I’ll have my answer.  If the trailers are still there, it’s a good day to film.  However, the streets could be empty, with the trailers having magically disappeared into the night.

I don’t know if or when Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Costner will be back in Boston.  I sure hope they are. But if not, it was pretty neat to see Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck with their children in the Boston Common.  They didn’t have tons of people following them or cameras clicking like you see in Los Angeles.  That has to be refreshing.  As to when we’ll see Ben next – undoubtedly, Ben will be at the Red Sox vs. Yankees series opener later this week, as everyone knows how huge a fan Ben Affleck is!

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