Born in California in 1972, Ben Affleck is an actor and screenwriter whose big break came with a role in the Academy Award-winning Good Will Hunting, which he co-wrote. In 1998, he starred in the successful blockbuster Armageddon, and landed a part in the Academy Award-winning film Shakespeare in Love. Having starred in a wide array of additional projects, he then directed and co-wrote the acclaimed 2007 film Gone Baby Gone. In 2012, he directed, co-produced and starred in the film Argo, which earned him a Golden Globe for best director and the 2013 Oscar for best picture. More recent projects have included Gone Girl and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Background and Early Career
Benjamin Geza Affleck was born on August 15, 1972, in Berkeley, California, to Chris and Tim Affleck. His parents separated soon after he was born, and officially divorced when he was 11. After the split, Affleck and his siblings moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Ben Affleck's first acting experience came at the age of seven, when he appeared in The Dark End of the Street (1979), an independent film produced by a friend of the family. At the age of eight, Affleck was featured in a PBS production, The Voyage of the Mimi. That same year he met his future best friend, Matt Damon, a 10-year-old who lived two blocks away. The boys later attended the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, where they both took drama classes. While still in high school, Affleck appeared in several network-TV dramas.
Affleck briefly attended the University of Vermont and California's Occidental College, but left to pursue his dreams of acting in Hollywood. His first major film was School Ties (1992), which also featured Damon and Brendan Fraser. Affleck then appeared as a bully in the cult classic Dazed and Confused (1993). Ben was later part of an ensemble cast for director Kevin Smith's Mallrats (1995), and was the romantic lead in Smith's Chasing Amy (1997).
Big Break: 'Good Will Hunting'
In 1992, Affleck and Damon collaborated on a screenplay called Good Will Hunting about a troubled young math genius. After a long struggle to get the script produced, Miramax purchased the rights to the film in 1996. Starring Damon, Affleck and Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting was released in 1997 to both critical and popular acclaim. Affleck and Damon won Golden Globe and Academy Awards for best original screenplay, thrusting the friends into the public eye.
Affleck began getting a great deal of media coverage after the Oscars, which earned him several leading film roles. He starred alongside Bruce Willis and Liv Tyler in the blockbuster disaster movie Armageddon (1998), which became the second top-grossing movie of that year, earning over $550 million worldwide. That same year he landed a supporting turn in the popular film Shakespeare in Love, which won a number of Academy Awards, including the prize for best picture.
Affleck made headlines when he began a high-profile romance with Shakespeare in Love co-star Gwyneth Paltrow. The couple announced their breakup in late 1998, but they remained good friends.
Affleck had less success in 1999 with Kevin Smith's irreverent comedy Dogma, co-starring Damon, Chris Rock, Janeane Garofalo and Alanis Morissette. That year he also starred in the poorly reviewed romantic comedy, Forces of Nature, co-starring Sandra Bullock.
In 2000, Affleck turned in a supporting performance in the slick stock-market drama Boiler Room, and headlined the fast-paced action thriller Reindeer Games, co-starring Charlize Theron and Gary Sinise. He also co-starred opposite Paltrow in the romantic drama Bounce.
In the summer of 2001, Affleck teamed up again with Armageddon director-producer team Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer for the blockbuster action flick Pearl Harbor, co-starring Kate Beckinsale, Josh Hartnett and Cuba Gooding Jr. Shortly after the film hit theaters, Affleck checked himself into an exclusive rehabilitation center in Malibu, California, to undergo treatment for alcohol abuse. The son of an alcoholic, Affleck announced through a spokesman that he "decided that a fuller life awaits him without alcohol."
A year later, a newly sober Affleck found romance with actress and musician Jennifer Lopez. Their relationship pushed Affleck back into the glare of the spotlight, and earned the couple the moniker "Bennifer."
In the fall of 2002, Affleck moved to the small screen when he co-produced the ABC mystery series Push, Nevada. The show promised $1 million cash to the viewer who solved its mystery, but was canceled just a few weeks into the season. Affleck also partnered with friend Damon yet again, and founded the production company LivePlanet. The duo produced the documentary series Project Greenlight, which gave aspiring screenwriters the opportunity to produce their creative visions. The show earned three Emmy nominations in the category of reality programming.
Affleck returned to feature films later that year when he appeared as Tom Clancy's young Jack Ryan in The Sum of All Fears. The movie fared well at the box office and cemented Affleck's reputation as an action star. His next film, the comic book action-adventure movie Daredevil (2003), also performed well, setting a box-office record for its Presidents' Day-weekend debut.
Affleck saw one of his biggest cinematic successes in 2012 with the release of Argo, a film about former CIA operative Tony Mendez, who led six American citizens to safety during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. Affleck directed, co-produced and acted in the film, playing Mendez.
Argo earned Affleck a Golden Globe Award for best director. The film also won a Golden Globe for best picture in the drama category and the 2013 Academy Award for best picture. Argo had garnered Academy Award nominations in six other categories, including best adapted screenplay and best actor in a supporting role for Alan Arkin.
'Gone Girl' and 'Batman v Superman'
After his tremendous success with Argo, Affleck took on an interesting mix of projects. He starred in the 2013 thriller Runner Runner with Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton. For his next directorial effort, Affleck has been working on a film adaptation of Dennis Lehane's novel Live by Night.
Affleck also starred in 2014's Gone Girl, the film adaptation of Gillian Glynn's bestselling novel. He plays a husband who becomes a suspect in the disappearance of his celebrity wife, as portrayed by Rosamund Pike. Around the time Gone Girl was released, Affleck announced a new project with Damon. The pair's production company, Pearl Street Films, will develop a new series, Incorporated, for the Syfy cable network in cooperation with CBS Television Studios.
In August 2013, Affleck made headlines for another project in the works. He has signed on to play the shadowy Caped Crusader in the upcoming Batman v Superman, with Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel. Reaction by many Batman fans to Affleck's casting was swift and harsh, with some even starting a petition to remove him from the role. But Affleck also received tremendous support from within the Hollywood community from the likes of director Joss Whedon and Val Kilmer, who starred in Batman Forever. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released domestically in March 2016 to much media fanfare and blockbuster box office numbers, though the film received generally poor reviews from critics.
In November 2003, Affleck announced his engagement to Lopez, who began sporting a $3.5 million ring. He then co-starred with his fiancee in the highly anticipated film Gigli. Despite the hype, box office sales only reached $3 million over its opening weekend. The film marked the beginning of a difficult time in Affleck's film career and personal life.
Affleck and Lopez called off the wedding in early 2004, citing too much media attention as the reason for the split. That same year, Affleck starred in the sci-fi thriller Paycheck, which performed poorly at the box-office and was panned by critics. His next two films, Smith's Jersey Girl (2004) and the comedy Surviving Christmas (2004), also struggled to capture the attention of audiences.
After his breakup with Lopez, Affleck began seeing Daredevil co-star Jennifer Garner. The two were engaged after nine months of dating, and married on June 29, 2005. They welcomed their first daughter, Violet Anne, on December 1, 2005.
The next year was a busy one for Affleck: He starred in Smokin' Aces (2006); the critically acclaimed Hollywoodland (2006); the Smith-produced Clerks II (2006); and Man About Town (2006), all of which made decent showings at the box office.
In 2007, Affleck worked on the other side of the camera as the director and co-writer of the film Gone Baby Gone. The Boston-based crime drama, which starred the director's brother Casey Affleck, earned rave reviews from critics.
In January 2009, Garner gave birth to the couple's second daughter, Seraphina. Affleck also starred in three new projects that year: the box office hit He's Just Not That Into You as well as the action films State of Play and Extract. The couple's first son, Samuel, was born on February 27, 2012.
In 2015, after much media scrutiny about their marriage, Affleck and Garner announced they were divorcing. News of their split came just after their tenth wedding anniversary in June. However, in March 2017, People magazine reported that the couple had called off the divorce to work on their marriage. Affleck also posted on Facebook in March that he had completed treatment for alcohol addiction. "I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I've dealt with in the past and will continue to confront," he wrote. "I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step. I'm lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I've done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery."
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