Actors often have to undergo physical preparation for a part. This can mean working out, or adopting a different haircut. For Ben Affleck in disaster movie Armageddon, it was new teeth, at the absolute behest of director Michael Bay.
Bay himself explains what happened in one of the film’s Criterion commentary. Per The Ringer, Affleck looked the part, but his teeth didn’t, and something had to change. “We paid for a set of $20,000 pearly white teeth, Ben’s gonna hate that story,” Bay starts. “I always liked low shots that kinda come right under your chin and make you a little bit heroic and he kinda had these baby teeth.” A solution was required immediately.
“So I told Jerry Bruckheimer, ‘God, he’s got these baby teeth, Jerry, I don’t know what to do!’,” Bay recalls. “Jerry used a very famous star in a plane movie that he replaced teeth with so he said, ‘We did it to him, why not do it to Ben?’ So my dentist had Ben sitting in a dentist’s chair for a week, eight hours a day.”
The Ringer does a comparison between Affleck in Armageddon and Dazed and Confused, and yeah, the work on his chompers is evident. Was it wholly necessary for the shots Bay wanted to achieve? Debatable, but that’s another conversation.
Affleck’s own commentary attached to that Criterion is the stuff of internet legend. He essentially sits down and just starts tearing his own film apart, from his performance, to Bay’s directing, to the rest of the cast and the writing. He recounts questioning the whole concept of the story – a bunch of oil miners are sent to stop an asteroid hurtling towards Earth – and Bay just not having it.
Alas, Armageddon, also starring Bruce Willis, Steve Buscemi, and Liv Tyler, was a huge success for all involved. Imagine how badly it would’ve bombed without Affleck’s new pearly whites.