Ben Affleck Praises 'The Tender Bar' Co-Star's Performance and 'Extraordinary Presence'

Ben Affleck's newest film The Tender Bar is a heartfelt drama-biopic directed by George Clooney, co-starring Lily Rabe, Tye Sheridan, and Christopher Lloyd. However, there was one cast member Affleck feels had an "extraordinary presence" on-screen. During a virtual press conference with PopCulture.com and other media for The Tender Bar last month, a PopCulture question was posed to actress Brianna Middleton — who plays Sydney, the college girlfriend of writer J.R. Maguire, whom Sheridan portrays in the film.

After Middleton finished answering and speaking about her character, Affleck spoke up, heaping praise for her performance, which was also her feature film debut. "I hope that people remember this movie, and like it for a lot of reasons, but I can promise you — I can promise you that this movie will be remembered, for sure, as Brianna's first movie," Affleck said. He went on to share that he'd recently watched The Tender Bar on a large screen in a movie theater, and gushed over the "nuances" of Middleton's performance, including the "delicacy, honesty, [and] elegance" of what she brought to the film. "You're a spectacular actor," Affleck said, turning his attention directly to Middleton, further adding, "I think you're going to have a long, successful career."

The Tender Bar is a coming-of-age drama that is based on writer J. R. Moehringer's 2005 memoir of the same name. It is directed by Clooney from a screenplay by William Monahan and produced by Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Ted Hope. In The Tender Bar, Affleck plays Moehringer's Uncle Charlie, whom he grew up with as the most prominent father figure in his life due to his own father's frequent absence. 

J.R. is played by two actors: newcomer Daniel Ranieri and Sheridan, who most recently appeared opposite Oscar Issac in The Card Counter. Ranieri portrays the adolescent Moehringer, while Sheridan plays him as a young adult. Additional stars of The Tender Bar include Rabe, Lloyd, Max Martini, Sondra James, Max Casella, and Middleton.

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In a previous interview with Deadline, Affleck spoke about working with Clooney on The Tender Bar and how deeply he felt about the project. "It is really only one of two times in my whole career that I had a great director send me a great script with a great part and offer it to me. It is very unusual," Affleck told the outlet. "I always kind of thought I was generating my own material and putting things together, and this was one of those things I thought happens to luckier people. It was just manna from heaven." The Tender Bar is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.