what might have been

Let’s Imagine the Deep Water Press Tour We Didn’t Get

What would have happened had Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas set aside their awkwardness and jumped headfirst into a Deep Water press tour? Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Getty Images

In our hour of need, Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas were there for us. During the darkest days of quarantine, the romance between the two stars of the erotic thriller Deep Water almost single-handedly kept the celebrity industrial complex in business. Was it real? Was it fake? Who cares — it was distracting, and that was enough.

But as the world calls out for more stupid gossip to distract us, Affleck and de Armas have abandoned their duties. The couple’s reign of gratuitous pap walks ended when they broke up in early 2021, and Affleck soon moved on to another tabloid-friendly relationship with ex Jennifer Lopez. Deep Water’s fate would be just as dispiriting as its stars’ romance: After many, many pandemic delays, the film was shuffled off to Hulu last Friday with nary a peep from Affleck or de Armas. Two years ago, the couple couldn’t help but promote this movie with everything they did; now that it’s actually out, these Daily Mail mainstays have suddenly become as publicity-shy as Daniel Day-Lewis.

Their reticence to discuss the film that brought them briefly together extends to their collaborators as well. As far as I can tell, the entire Deep Water promo tour appeared to consist of a few online Q&As with director Adrian Lyne and a Jacob Elordi Hot Ones interview. We demand more! When they’re on, Affleck and de Armas play the game of self-promotion better than anyone else in Hollywood. So let’s imagine what could have been had they set aside their awkwardness and jumped headfirst into a Deep Water press tour.

The Deep Water premiere! Lest anyone get confused, Affleck arrives on the red carpet with Lopez in tow as the A-listers serve up a feast of PDA for the flashbulbs. De Armas walks the carpet solo in a stunning Ralph & Russo gown that the tabloids promptly dub a “revenge dress.” The stars’ entrances have been coordinated to keep them far apart for as long as possible, but they gamely pose together with Lyne before the lights go down. Caught on the red carpet by People, co-star Lil Rel Howery says there’s no hard feelings between them: “That was a long time ago now. It’s all love.”

Lyne gets the New York Times profile treatment as the Gray Lady asks, “Remember When Hollywood Movies Were Sexy?” The story posits Lyne as the master of a vanished art form and delves into the story of why he went 20 years between movies. Michael Douglas, star of Lyne’s Fatal Attraction, offers some secondary quotes but mercifully refrains from saying anything about cunnilingus.

Having used up his quota of soul-searching interviews on The Way Back’s press tour, Affleck decides to take another tack and poses shirtless on the cover of GQ. “On the Verge of Turning 50, Ben Affleck Is Finally Living His Best Life,” the mag crows. The actor’s limbs are carefully positioned to avoid showing off his phoenix tattoo.

Now it’s de Armas’s turn. In an Elle cover story titled “Don’t Call Ana de Armas an ‘It’ Girl,” the actress speaks on her love for New Orleans and plays coy about whether she’ll be in the Knives Out sequel. None of this gets as much attention as her brief nod to her relationship with Affleck: “Dating an older man? Never again.”

Meanwhile, Affleck stops by The Bill Simmons Podcast to promote Deep Water, though the movie quickly takes a back seat in favor of the host’s preferred topics: Tom Brady’s return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Simmons recently hitting on a five-game parlay, and whether Volodymyr Zelenskyy can be “the guy.”

De Armas visits The Tonight Show, and she brings along a special guest: the Ana de Armas cutout! Jimmy Fallon has his own cardboard cutout, and all four of them play a game of ping-pong together. De Armas and her cutout win 11-7.

Affleck appears on “The Howard Stern Show.” Stern asks whether it’s awkward to watch sex scenes with his ex. Affleck admits he hasn’t watched Deep Water yet. Nevertheless, the exchange is aggregated across the film blogosphere.

The New Yorker publishes a small “Talk of the Town” feature on Tracy Letts, who plays a nosy neighbor in the film. Letts and the reporter visit a snail emporium; he calls the experience “quite sacred.”

Finn Wittrock gets a Bustle digital cover headlined “Finn Wittrock Is Ready to Rock You.”

Affleck visits Jimmy Kimmel, but when he walks out, who should pop up from behind the desk than … Matt Damon! Damon grills Affleck about whether Deep Water will flop harder than The Last Duel. Affleck notes that Damon was the star of that one — he was only a scene-stealing supporting player. Both laugh for slightly longer than seems natural.

Thanks to its stars’ promotional efforts, Deep Water debuts to a 39 percent Tomatometer score, three points higher than it got in our reality.

Let’s Imagine the Deep Water Press Tour That Never Was