Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt (born August 15, 1972), better known as Ben Affleck, is an American actor, film director, producer, and screenwriter. He first came to attention for his performances in Kevin Smith's films such as Mallrats (1995), Chasing Amy (1997), and Dogma (1999). In 1997, Affleck gained recognition as a writer when he won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting (1997), which he co-wrote and in which he co-starred with actor Matt Damon. He later achieved international recognition for starring in films such as Armageddon (1998), Pearl Harbor (2001), Changing Lanes (2002), The Sum of All Fears (2002), Daredevil (2003), Hollywoodland (2007), State of Play (2009), and The Town (2010).
Affleck is a critically acclaimed film director. He gained recognition as a director for his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone (2007) for which he won the National Board of Review Award for Best Directorial Debut. He then directed and starred in The Town (2010) and Argo (2012), which won him the Golden Globe Award, BAFTA, and Directors Guild Award for Best Director, and the Golden Globe Award, BAFTA, the Producers Guild Award, and the Academy Award for Best Picture. He has worked with his younger brother, actor Casey Affleck, on several films, including Good Will Hunting and Gone Baby Gone.
Affleck has been married to Jennifer Garner since June 2005. They have two daughters, Violet and Seraphina, and a son, Samuel. Previously, he dated Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998, and his relationship with actress/singer Jennifer Lopez, in which they were dubbed "Bennifer", attracted worldwide media attention before it ended in 2004.
Affleck has been actively involved in politics and charitable causes. He and Matt Damon founded the production company LivePlanet. In 2012 they founded a new company, Pearl Street Films.
In 2013, Affleck received an honorary doctorate from Brown University.
Affleck was born in Berkeley, California. His mother, Christine Anne "Chris" Affleck (née Boldt), was a school district employee and teacher. His father, Timothy Byers Affleck, has been a drug counselor, social worker, janitor, auto mechanic, bartender,
writer, director, and actor with the Theater Company of Boston. Affleck's mother was a freedom rider in the 1960s; until her retirement, she was a public school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His younger brother is actor Casey Affleck. Affleck has English, Irish, German, Scottish, French, and Swedish ancestry. The surname "Affleck" is of Scottish origin, and his middle name, "Géza", was the name of a family friend. He was raised in a mostly Episcopalian family.
His family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, when he was very young, and his parents divorced in 1984. At age eight, Affleck met 10-year-old Matt Damon, who lived two blocks away. Damon is Affleck's tenth cousin, once removed, through a common New England ancestor. The two attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School together, although they were in different grades. Affleck attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, as well as the University of Vermont, where he studied Middle Eastern affairs for one semester, but then dropped out to pursue his acting career.
Career[edit source | editbeta]
Early work[edit source | editbeta]
Affleck worked as a child actor, appearing on the PBS children's series The Voyage of the Mimi, as well as in several movies made for television. In the mid-1980s Affleck appeared regularly as a news correspondent for Kidsworld, reporting on such diverse issues as lactose intolerance and the life of retired circus elephants. In the 1990s, he had roles in Lifestories: Families in Crisis, as a steroid-abusing athlete, as well as in several films, including School Ties (1992), Dazed and Confused (1993), Mallrats (1995), and Chasing Amy (1997). Mallrats and Amy marked the beginning of his collaboration with writer/director Kevin Smith. He had the starring role in Smith's Jersey Girl and has appeared in every View Askewniverse-Jersey film Smith has made to date, with the exception of Clerks and Zack and Miri Affleck also starred on several Saturday Night Live episodes early in his career. He made his directorial debut in 1993 with a 16-minute comedy called I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney.
Box office[edit source | editbeta]
Smiling young man with a trim goatee and moustache, wearing a white t-shirt and a baseball cap. He is surrounding by hands reaching out to him.
Affleck visiting the USS Enterprise (CVN‑65) in Manama, Bahrain, in December 2003.
Affleck came to national attention working with Damon in Good Will Hunting in 1997, for which they shared writing credit and received the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. They also starred in the film. Good Will Hunting's success transformed Affleck from a virtual unknown into a celebrity. Along with Damon and producers Chris Moore and Sean Bailey, Affleck founded the production company LivePlanet, through which the four created the documentary series Project Greenlight, as well as the failed mystery-hybrid series Push, Nevada, among other projects. Project Greenlight was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program in 2002, 2004, and 2005.
Affleck starred in Armageddon (1998) opposite Bruce Willis. The film received mixed to negative critical reviews, but was a box-office success, earning $553 million worldwide. In 1999, he co-starred with Sandra Bullock in the romantic comedy Forces of Nature. In 2001, Affleck collaborated with Armageddon director Michael Bay in the war film Pearl Harbor. The film opened to a mixed to negative reception, but was a box-office success, earning $449 million worldwide.
In 2002, he was cast as Jack Ryan, a role previously played by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford, in the fourth film in the techno-thriller series The Sum of All Fears. The movie, which ignored the story lines of the previous Jack Ryan films, also starred Morgan Freeman. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post wrote that Affleck and Freeman "create a believable chemistry". In the same year, Affleck starred opposite Samuel L. Jackson in the popular thriller Changing Lanes.
The following year, he starred as Matt Murdock/Daredevil in Mark Steven Johnson's film Daredevil (2003). Affleck said Daredevil was his favorite comic book as a kid and explained why he took the role by saying "Everybody has that one thing from childhood that they remember and that sticks with them. This story was that for me." He also said "I didn't want someone else to do it, because I was afraid that they would go out and do it different from the comic and screw it up." Roger Ebert, in review of Daredevil, wrote that both Affleck and co‑star Jennifer Garner were suitable for their roles. Daredevil grossed over $179 million worldwide.
Despite some critical missteps, his box-office successes reportedly earned Affleck an average of $15 million per film. Following Daredevil, Affleck starred in several critically panned box-office flops, including Gigli (2003) and Surviving Christmas (2004).
2006–2009[edit source | editbeta]
Affleck at the premiere for He's Just Not That Into You in February 2009
Affleck starred in the critically acclaimed George Reeves noir biopic Hollywoodland, directed by HBO TV-series veteran Allen Coulter. His performance was well-received; Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote: "The irony is that Affleck's battering at the hands of fame has prepped him beautifully to play Reeves. He knows this character from the inside: the surface charm, the hidden vulnerability, the ache of watching a career become a joke and being helpless to stop it." Claudia Puig wrote in USA Today that Affleck gives a "strong performance". He was awarded the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival, won the Supporting Actor of the Year award at the Hollywood Film Festival, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. Following the success of Hollywoodland, he appeared in the action film Smokin' Aces (2007), playing Jack Dupree, a bounty hunter. Smokin' Aces received mixed reviews from critics and was a box-office failure.
Also in 2007, Affleck made his feature film directorial debut with Gone Baby Gone, for which he also co‑wrote the screenplay based on the book by Dennis Lehane about two Boston-area detectives investigating a little girl's kidnapping and how it affects their lives. His brother Casey starred in the film. It opened to rave reviews in October 2007. When asked why he decided to direct the film, Affleck said: "Directing a movie was really instructive for me. I think I learned a lot about writing, and a lot about acting, and I learned how all the pieces fit together from the inside. That was really valuable. It was a good thing." The film received critical acclaim. In Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum noted that Affleck "shows excellent instincts" as a director. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com wrote: "As a director, Ben Affleck may turn out to be quite good with actors...But he may need to work harder at shaping material, and at making his characters emerge as rounded, believable people."
Affleck appeared in Jimmy Kimmel's 2008 video I'm Fucking Ben Affleck, a response to a video by Kimmel's girlfriend, Sarah Silverman, I'm Fucking Matt Damon. Many other celebrities appeared in the video including Good Charlotte's Joel and Benji Madden, Macy Gray, Dominic Monaghan, Lance Bass, Josh Groban, Don Cheadle, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Robin Williams, Harrison Ford, Huey Lewis, Joan Jett, Pete Wentz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Meat Loaf, Dicky Barrett and others.
2009–present[edit source | editbeta]
Ben Affleck and Jon Hamm on the set of The Town
In 2009, Affleck returned to acting, starring in three features, He's Just Not That into You, State of Play, and Extract. In He's Just Not That into You, a romantic comedy, he was part of an ensemble cast that included Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper, Justin Long, and Jennifer Connelly. The film generated mostly mixed reviews, but was a box-office success, earning $165 million worldwide. In State of Play, an adaptation of the British television serial State of Play, Affleck played Congressman Stephen Collins. The film is a political thriller which explores the relationship between politicians and the media. In the comedy film Extract, Affleck played Dean, a bartender, and the best friend to Jason Bateman's character. His performance in the film was well-received, with Barbara Vancheri of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporting that "Affleck is a hoot as a long-haired fount of bad advice and drugs he keeps in a little tin behind the bar. After playing a square-jawed crimefighter, an actor turned Superman and a congressman, he is actually loose and funny."
Affleck directed his second feature, The Town, an adaptation of Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves, that was both a critical and commercial success when it was released in theaters in 2010. Along with directing and co-writing the film, he was part of the cast that included Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Chris Cooper and Blake Lively.
Affleck was awarded the Chairman's Award in the 2011 Palm Springs International Film Festival. Commenting on Affleck, Festival Chairman Harold Matzner said:
If there is truly a renaissance man in today's cinema, it's Ben Affleck. He has distinguished himself as a premier writer and director, as well as an actor with a broad-ranging and impressive filmography. In his latest work, The Town, Affleck once again puts his acting, writing and directorial skills to work, in a stinging portrait of a New England town and the grip it has on generation after generation, who find it impossible to leave. For his ability to "do it all" and constantly evolve as an artist, The Palm Springs International Film Festival is proud to present Ben Affleck with the 2011 Chairman's Award.
Affleck starred alongside Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams, and Rachel Weisz in To the Wonder, a romantic drama written and directed by Terrence Malick. Filming took place in fall 2010 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and the film was released in cinemas in 2013.
Affleck also directed his third feature, Argo, for producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov. The film tells the story of a CIA operation to save six diplomats during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis by faking a production for a large-scale science fiction film.
Also with Argo, Affleck is the first director ever who failed to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Director, yet went on to win both the Golden Globe and the Directors Guild of America awards for best directing, in 2013. For the same film, Affleck has also won the Critic's Choice and BAFTA awards for best director, while the film has been named Best Picture in the previously mentioned organizations as well as the Producers Guild.
Following his work on Argo, Affleck was selected to replace David Yates as the director for the Warner Bros. adaptation of Stephen King's novel, The Stand, as Yates thought the novel was suited for a miniseries instead. In August 2012, it was reported that Warner Bros. was eyeing Affleck to direct a live-action Justice League film, though Affleck's representatives indicated that he passed on the offer.
Activities[edit source | editbeta]
Charitable and humanitarian projects[edit source | editbeta]
Affleck is a philanthropist. Affleck's support of the non-profit charitable organization the A-T Children's Project, began while he was filming Forces of Nature. Affleck met a then nine-year-old child, Joe Kindregan, who has the rare disease ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T). The disease, described as like having muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, immune deficiency and cancer all at once, is progressive; children with A-T usually do not live beyond their late teens. Affleck attends benefits and spoke to Congress to advocate for the charity, and in 2007 was the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony of Falls Church High School in Fairfax, Virginia, from which Kindregan was graduating.
In June 2008 he appeared in an ABC News exclusive report exploring the humanitarian crisis in the Eastern Congo. Affleck travelled to the African nation and interviewed refugees, warlords, and members of parliament. "I think the more painful something is, the more you want to distance yourself from it," he said. "I think the hard part is actually to let some of that go and to realize that when you see some of these images of people suffering in some way or another, to kind of remember that these are people who are in fact just in different circumstances than you are, but that are kind of dealing with [those circumstances] in a pretty brave and enduring way." In December 2008, he teamed up with the United Nations releasing a short film highlighting the plight of Congolese refugees, and in March 2010, Affleck announced the formation of the Eastern Congo Initiative, which he founded as "the first U.S.-based advocacy and grant-making initiative wholly focused on working with and for the people of eastern Congo". In April 2013, Affleck announced that he would take part in Global Poverty Project's "Live Below the Line" campaign, which consists in living on $1.50 a day to raise awareness of extreme poverty around the world.
Political activism[edit source | editbeta]
In the final weeks of the 2000 Presidential campaign, Affleck promoted the Democratic ticket, supporting Al Gore and repeatedly delivering a get-out-the-vote plea: "It's very important to vote. The president will appoint three or four Supreme Court justices." During the final week of the race, Affleck—along with Helen Hunt, Martin Sheen, Rob Reiner and other actors—spent an hour at a phone bank calling registered Democrats. "People in my generation have a low voter turnout. One of the reasons that I'm here is to demonstrate that no matter who you are going to vote for ...I think it's important to get involved and get out and vote," he told reporters. "But I'm going to tell people to vote for Gore."
On October 28, 2000, Affleck flew with Hillary Clinton, who was running for a Senate seat, to Ithaca, New York, where he introduced her at a Cornell University rally. He told the college crowd that Clinton had been advocating for women and working families since "Rick Lazio was running around the frat house in his underwear". Lazio, then a Long Island congressman, was Clinton's Republican opponent.
Affleck on the set of The Rachel Maddow Show, April 16, 2009
On November 6, 2000, the final day of the campaign, Affleck was one of several high-profile celebrities summoned to Miami Beach by Miramax Films boss Harvey Weinstein for a late-night Gore rally, just hours before polls opened nationwide. The Gore campaign's last event, a final effort to energize South Beach voters, did not end until about 1:00 am, but Affleck flew back to New York that morning and made a surprise live appearance on The Rosie O'Donnell Show. It was 10:15 am when he made his final public pitch from a Rockefeller Center studio, noting that he was "a little bit tired ... I've been out getting involved, doing stuff and trying to get people to vote. And that's why I came by here". Also, "Today is the get-out-the-vote day and ... I think this is the time to get involved, especially the young folks who are here ... I'm about to go vote," He then said, "I am personally gonna vote for Al Gore".
As votes were tallied that night, Affleck told Salon.com's Amy Reiter, "I'm nervous this evening, but one of the things that's exciting to me is the number of people who voted. No matter who wins, I think it's a healthy thing for our country that so many voters have come out and participated in the process. Either way, I think the most important number will be the turnout".
In the May 2001 issue of GQ, Affleck said, "My fantasy is that someday I'm independently wealthy enough that I'm not beholden to anybody, so I can run for Congress on the grounds that everyday people should be in government". However, when he was asked about his political ambitions in an April 2009 interview to promote the 2009 film, State of Play, Affleck said, "I really like my job that I have now. Plus, unlike in Hollywood where you need one director to hire you, in politics you have to have a lot of people to vote for you. I think it's harder work. I really am happy with what I'm doing now. In fact I've never been at a place where I've felt better about going to work everyday. I'm more engaged and very, very happy."
Affleck aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65) on a USO sponsored tour of the Persian Gulf in December 2003
In 2004, Affleck actively campaigned for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. During the first day of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he was featured on Larry King Live with Tucker Carlson and Al Sharpton. Larry King asked if he would consider running for office, and Affleck admitted to contemplating the proposition. Specific attention focused on whether he would run for Kerry's open Senate seat (as Affleck was from Massachusetts). He noted that the line between politics and entertainment is becoming increasingly blurred, as Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger both came from the entertainment business.
Affleck supports legalizing gay marriage, saying in 2004, "I don't think the government should be involved in any way in people's bedrooms or lives. With so much hatred and unpleasantness in the world, why would you want to get in the way of people who love each other marrying each other? Anybody who wants to be able to get married to anybody else should be able to. It's not my business." He also appeared in a print advertisement with his openly gay cousin in support of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Despite his opposition to George W. Bush's policies as president, in an interview with Bill O'Reilly in July 2004 Affleck said, "I had the pleasure of and the honor of meeting the President of the United States at the Daytona 500. I found him to be a collegial, affable, kind guy." He went on to say Bush "is a patriot and he's a man who believes in the country. He's trying to further an agenda he believes in. I happen to disagree with most of his policies, but I respect the man."
On December 21, 2010, Affleck appeared on NPR and criticized CEOs for making so much money. "CEOs' pay shouldn't be 200 times the average worker. It used to be nine times." On November 4, 2010, Affleck was commended for returning a second check for $250,000 that was mistakenly sent to him for appearing at the opening of a casino at The Greenbrier resort.
On March 14, 2012, Affleck wrote an article endorsing the Kony 2012 campaign. Affleck applauded the action taken by the Invisible Children in regards to raising awareness about child soldiers in Africa as well as raising awareness about the LRA. However, Affleck stated that "Westerners are not and will never be the 'saviors' of Africa".
On 12 March 2013, Affleck was officially censured by the parliament of New Zealand for misportraying the role of New Zealand diplomats during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis in his film Argo 
Personal life[edit source | editbeta]
Affleck has described himself as a lapsed Protestant.
Affleck at the 2008 World Series of Poker.
An avid poker player, Affleck has regularly entered local events. He has been tutored by poker professionals Amir Vahedi and Annie Duke, and won the California State Poker Championship on June 20, 2004, taking home the first prize of $356,000, which qualified him for the 2004 World Poker Tour final tournament. He is a fan of the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Celtics, and Boston Bruins.
Affleck entered alcohol rehab in 2001, with a spokesman for the actor saying that "Ben is a self-aware and smart man who had decided that a fuller life awaits him without alcohol".
Family and relationships[edit source | editbeta]
Affleck had a high-profile romance with actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998, following her breakup with actor Brad Pitt. In 2002 he began dating actress/singer Jennifer Lopez, whom he had met while filming Gigli. The same year, his engagement to Lopez was announced, and the relationship between the two received much attention from the entertainment media, who dubbed the couple "Bennifer". Despite a wedding planned for September 14, the couple broke up in 2004, both blaming the media attention—including an alleged incident in which Affleck partied with Christian Slater and some lap dancers in Vancouver. The negative publicity and media attention carried over to the 2003 film Gigli, which was a box-office failure.
He subsequently began seeing his Daredevil co‑star, actress Jennifer Garner, and the two were engaged after nine months of dating. Affleck and Garner were married on June 29, 2005, in Turks and Caicos, located in the Atlantic Ocean north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The couple have three children: daughters Violet Anne Affleck (born December 1, 2005) and Seraphina Rose Elizabeth Affleck (born January 6, 2009), and son Samuel Garner Affleck (born February 27, 2012). They have year-round homes in Los Angeles, and Massachusetts, an apartment in New York and a vacation home in Savannah, Georgia