For his new film, Ben Affleck returns to the work of author Dennis Lehane, whose novel Gone Baby Gone was the basis for his first directing job in 2007. The new film is 1920s gangster drama Live by Night. He opens up about working from source material of that calibre.

Ben Affleck stars in 'Live By Night'Ben Affleck stars in 'Live By Night'

"Obviously I'm not the first person to discover Dennis Lehane. He's had great directors adapt his work," Affleck says, referring to Clint Eastwood (Mystic River) and Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island). "His dialogue is really sharp and crackles, the characters are punchy and sexy. Everything just sort of jumps right onto the screen. You don't have to do a lot of work to adapt that stuff because it's just written in a cinematic way in the novel."

Affleck also admits that the cast came together easily, including Chris Cooper (who worked with Affleck in The Town), Chris Messina (Argo) and Sienna Miller (who tested with Affleck for Paycheck). "I just got really lucky and got all my first choices for this movie," he says. "So I was incredibly grateful that these people agreed to be in my movie."

Like Gone Baby Gone, Live by Night is set in Affleck's hometown of Boston. "I think you recognise what's closest to home," he says. "Dennis really gets Boston. He infuses his story with a love for the place, even if parts of it aren't that lovable."

Watch the trailer for 'Live By Night' here:


Then after the first act, the story moves to Florida's Gulf Coast. "You see a lot of New York and Boston gangster movies," Affleck says, "but seeing those kinds of movies in Florida while Florida was still being developed is different. Back then there was wild jungle out in the suburbs!"

Affleck has had a stellar career, but is realistic about its peaks and valleys. He has won two Oscars, for writing Good Will Hunting (1997) and for producing Argo (2012), and in between there were some lean years. "I'd always had a strong idea about my values and the direction I wanted to be headed in," he says, "and then I ran into getting famous and it totally spun me around and I flailed around for a few years. When you're a young man in your 20s, part of that is making mistakes and learning from them. I just made those in front of everybody!"

And he says he hopes to reunite on-screen with his buddy Matt Damon. "I'd love to get a great two-handed script and do a movie with Matt," Affleck says. "But for whatever reason, those scripts are rare."