One of the most talented and bankable actors in Hollywood, Ben Affleck is at the top of the food chain. The multimillionaire actor and director has reinvented his career so many times to adapt to an ever-changing business. He started off as a child actor, from there he had the transition to an adult star and he then had to reinvent himself after starring in a several blockbuster bombs. This Hollywood hunk climbed to the top and has stayed there for over three decades.
Born Benjamin Geza Affleck-Boldt, Ben was born in Berkeley, California. Ben’s family moved to Massachusetts when he was two and his brother was born there. The family would later settle in Central Square, Cambridge. His mother Christopher Anne was a Harvard educated teacher and his father Timothy Affleck was an auto mechanic, a carpenter and a bookie. Ben’s father had been an actor and a stage manager in Boston. Ben grew up in a troubled home because his father was an alcoholic; he couldn’t hold on to a job and this consequently led to Ben’s parents getting a divorce when he was just 12 years old. Ben, together with his also famous brother Casey, lived with their mother. When Ben was a teenager, his father moved back to California to a rehab facility where he became a counselor and a facilitator. With his life back in control, he reconnected with to his now adult sons.
Ben’s family was liberal and politically conscious. Their mother was an art loving woman who took her sons to the theater regularly. She encouraged her sons to make homemade movies and to express and explore their creativity. The two brother enjoyed art and they started auditioning for local commercials and local productions. Ben’s mother was friends with the Cambridge casting director and she got Ben’s first acting role at the age of seven. Ben’s wages were saved in a college fund because Anne wanted her son to be a teacher as she didn’t think acting was an honest and sustaining profession. David Wheeler who was a family friend became Ben’s acting coach and he would later state that Ben was very bright and curious. At the age of 13, Ben filmed a children’s program in Mexico where he learnt to speak Spanish. He spent a whole year travelling around Mexico together with brother Casey and their mother.
Ben met Matt Damon when he was at Cambridge Alternative Public School. They became close friends in high school at Cambridge Rindge and Latin. They were both into fine arts and theater and they both looked up to their drama teacher Gerry Speca. Ben and Damon had the same interests in acting and theater so they became very close. They spent a lot of time together discussing plans about how they would become actors. When not in school, they worked in constructions and as cinema ushers. They went to auditions together in different cities such as New York and they opened a joint bank account where they would save for trains and airline tickets.
Ben was a bright student, he scored high in his SATs but he was much unfocused in high school. He missed classes and after graduation he went to University of Vermont with his then-girlfriend. He left the college after three months without credits and moved to California at 18-years old. There he started studying Middle Eastern Affairs at Occidental College. He was a student there for a year and a half but dropped out after a professor refused his submission of creative writing. The submission was a draft of what would be one of his most successful movies; Good Will Hunting.
At the age of seven, Ben appeared in a local independent film called the Dark Side of the Street in 1981. He starred in the children series The Voyage of the Mimi (1984) and The Second Voyage of the Mimi (1988). In his teenage years he appeared in the ABC’s A Perfect Man (1986) and the TV movie Hands of a Stranger (1987). He also starred in a Burger King commercial. At Occidental College, he directed student films. He appeared in small part roles in movies such as Daddy (1991) and School Ties (1992) among other movies. He played a high school quarterback in the TV series Against the Grain (1993), a steroid abuser in Body to Die For: The Aaron Henry Story (1994). He became popular in the cult classic Dazed and Confused.
Ben’s first starring role was in the movie Glory Daze (1995) where he got positive reviews for the role. He starred in a leading role for the romantic comedy Chasing Amy (1997). He received positive reviews for his performance and this film became his break out moment.
The film that announced Affleck to the biggest stage was Good Will Hunting. He co-wrote the screenplay and got Matt Damon to play the leading role alongside him. The script had originated back in Harvard when Damon wrote it for script writing class. Matt later moved into Ben’s apartment and they wrote the script together. They sold the script to Caste Rock in 1994 but they disputed with the organization about who was going to direct the film. Ben and Matt convinced Miramax to buy the script; the film went into production and was directed by Gus Van Sant and co-starred Matt, Ben and Robin Williams. The actors got positive reviews for the screenplay and their performances.
Ben had the spotlight on him and the next film made him a leading man. He starred in Armageddon alongside Bruce Willis. He received praise for his role for which he had to lose weight, get a tan and cap his teeth. He tested his versatility in his next film in the comedy Shakespeare in Love. He starred as an Englishman and he had to get his accent right for the film. His performance was positively received and the film went on to win seven Academy Awards.
Ben reunited with his friend Matt in the religious satire film Dogma (1999). He later starred opposite Sandra Bullock in the romantic comedy Forces of Nature and opposite Courtney Love in 200 Cigarettes. All of these films had positive reviews propelling Ben to the height of the Hollywood food chain. He starred in the action film Reindeer Games (2000) where he shadowed his director throughout the film production because he was interested in a directorial career. The same year he starred alongside Gwyneth Paltrow in the romantic drama Bounce. Both of those films were well received.
Ben starred in the film Pearl Harbor (2001). The movie was derided and Ben would come out later and say he did the movie for the money. He switched up and starred in the thriller Sum of All Fears (2002) where he was praised for his performance. The same year he starred in two comedies; Daddy and Them as well as The Third Wheel. Ben went into television for a short while before returning to films. The following two years were hard for him. He eroded his leading man status by starring in Box Office flops and critically derided film such as Daredevil (2003) and Gigli (2003). He also starred in flops Paycheck (2003) and the romantic comedy Jersey Girl (2004). After the poor streak, Ben decided to take a break from acting and the tabloids.
He got married in 2005 and had a child. He reinvented his career and in 2006, he starred in the biopic Hollywoodland where he was praised for his performance and flexibility. He made his directorial debut in 2007 in the crime drama Gone Baby Gone which starred his brother Casey Affleck. The film had rave reviews and Ben was praised for his role. He starred in the 2009 comedy He is Just Not That into You opposite Jennifer Aniston where their chemistry was praised. He starred in the well-received film The Company Man and his performance was well received.
Ben was announced as batman for the next chapter of DC films. This was not well received but his performance was still praised in his Batman debut in the 2016 movie Batman VS Superman. The movie received poor ratings overall. He later starred as an autistic accountant in the film The Accountant. He starred and directed the gangster film Live by Night which he was praised for his directing but derided for his acting.
Known for his good looks, he was named the Sexiest Man Alive in 2002 by the People magazine. He was one of the most overexposed stars in the 2000s because of his active dating life and his good looks. Other than being known for his notoriety on the tabloids, Ben had been involved in a few high profile incidents. In 2001 he enrolled in a thirty day residential treatment program for alcoholics. Ben said that the program was a pre-emptive strike against a long history of alcoholism in his family.
Ben is an avid charity facilitator. After visiting the Congo between 2005 and 2007, he established a charity organization called the Eastern Congo Initiative together with Whitney Williams. The ECI acts as grant maker for charity organizations in Eastern Congo. Ben has been a witness to the UN and attends a lot of panel for the discussion concerning Congo. In addition to his Congo ben is a supporter of the AT children’s project. When he was shooting Forces of Nature he developed a friendship with a child who had AT. Ten-year old Joe Kindregan developed a close connection with Ben through letters and phone calls and Ben invited his family to a lot of movie premieres. Affleck and Kindregan testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education asking senators to support the stem cell research. Ben is a democrat and has campaigned for a lot of presidential candidates from the party such as John Kerry, Obama and Hillary Clinton. Ben has shown an interest in running for a political office when he is older although he says he has become disillusioned by party politics.
Ben dated actress Gwyneth Paltrow from 1997 to 2000. They met at a Miramax dinner and Ben was smitten by Gwyneth. When they were dating they worked together on Shakespeare in Love in 1998. They broke up in January 1999 but they worked on the film Bounce the same year and got back together. They broke up again in late 2000 and remained friends.
Ben dated pop star and actress Jenifer Lopez from 2002 to 2004 and they announced their engagement in November 2002. They met at the set of Gigli and worked together on other projects such as Jersey Girl and the ‘Jenny from the Block’ music video. They received media coverage but their planned wedding did not go through. They broke up in January 2004 because Ben was uncomfortable with the media coverage.
Ben met his future wife, actress Jennifer Garner, on the set of the movies Pearl Harbor and Daredevil. They became good friends and they started dating in 2004 and got married in June 2005. The wedding ceremony was small and only the vicar and two witnesses were present for the ceremony. Jennifer gave birth to the couple’s first child, a baby girl, Violet Anne in December 2005. They had two more children a girl; Seraphina (2009) and a boy; Samuel Garner (2012).
Written by: Emily Smith