Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt (born August 15, 1972) is an American actor and filmmaker. His accolades include two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTA Awards, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
His biggest success as a child actor was as the star of the PBS children's series The Voyage of the Mimi (1984) and The Second Voyage of the Mimi (1988), produced for sixth-grade science classes. Affleck worked sporadically on Mimi from the age of eight to fifteen in both Massachusetts and Mexico. As a teenager, he appeared in the ABC after school special Wanted: A Perfect Man (1986), the television film Hands of a Stranger (1987), and a 1989 Burger King commercial.After high school, Affleck moved briefly to New York in search of acting work.
Later, while studying at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Affleck directed student films. As an actor, he had a series of knock-around parts, one to the next. He played Patrick Duffy's son in the television film Daddy (1991), made an uncredited appearance as a basketball player in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film (1992), and had a supporting role as a prep school student in School Ties (1992). He played a high school quarterback in the NBC television series Against the Grain (1993), and a steroid-abusing high school football player in Body to Die For: The Aaron Henry Story (1994).
Affleck's most notable role during this period was as a high school bully in Richard Linklater's cult classic Dazed and Confused (1993). Linklater wanted a likeable actor for the villainous role and, while Affleck was big and imposing, he was so smart and full of life ... I just liked him.
Affleck later said Linklater was instrumental in demystifying the filmmaking process for him. Affleck's first starring film role was as an aimless art student in the college drama Glory Daze (1995), with Stephen Holden of The New York Times remarking that his affably mopey performance finds just the right balance between obnoxious and sad sack. He then played a bully in filmmaker Kevin Smith's comedy Mallrats (1995), and became friends with Smith during the filming. Affleck began to worry that he would be relegated to a career of throwing people into their lockers, but Smith put him in the lead role in Smith's romantic comedy Chasing Amy (1997).
The film was Affleck's breakthrough. Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised Affleck's wonderful ease playing the role, combining suave good looks with cool comic timing. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly described it as a wholesome and quick-witted performance. When Affleck starred as a recently returned Korean War veteran in the coming-of-age drama Going All the Way (1997), Todd McCarthy of Variety found him excellent, while Janet Maslin of The New York Times noted that his flair for comic self-doubt made a strong impression.
The success of 1997's Good Will Hunting, which Affleck co-wrote and acted in, marked a turning point in his career. The screenplay originated in 1992 when Damon wrote a 40-page script for a playwriting class at Harvard University. He asked Affleck to act out the scenes with him in front of the class and, when Damon later moved into Affleck's Los Angeles apartment, they began working on the script in earnest. The film, which they wrote mainly during improvisation sessions, was set partly in their hometown of Cambridge, and drew from their own experiences.
They sold the screenplay to Castle Rock in 1994 when Affleck was 22 years old. During the development process, they received notes from industry figures including Rob Reiner and William Goldman. Following a lengthy dispute with Castle Rock about a suitable director, Affleck and Damon persuaded Miramax to purchase the screenplay. The two friends moved back to Boston for a year before the film finally went into production, directed by Gus Van Sant, and co-starring Damon, Affleck, Minnie Driver, and Robin Williams.
On its release, Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised the smart and touching screenplay, while Emanuel Levy of Variety found it funny, nonchalant, moving and angry. Jay Carr of The Boston Globe wrote that Affleck brought a beautifully nuanced tenderness to his role as the working-class friend of Damon's mathematical prodigy character. Affleck and Damon eventually won both the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Affleck has described this period of his life as dreamlike: It was like one of those scenes in an old movie when a newspaper comes spinning out of the black on to the screen.
You know, '$100 Million Box Office! Awards!' He remains the youngest writer (at age 25) to ever win an Oscar for screenwriting.
In the mid-1960s, he had been an actor and stage manager with the Theater Company of Boston. During Affleck's childhood, his father had a self-described severe, chronic problem with alcoholism, and Affleck has recalled him drinking all day ... every day.
He and his younger brother attended Al-Anon support meetings from a young age. His parents divorced when he was 12, and he and Casey lived with their mother. His father continued to drink, and spent two years homeless. When Affleck was 16, his father moved to Indio, California, to enter a rehabilitation facility and, after gaining sobriety, he lived at the facility for many years while working as an addiction counselor.
Affleck was raised in a politically active, liberal household. He and his brother were surrounded by people who worked in the arts, regularly attended theater performances with their mother, and were encouraged to make their own home movies. The brothers auditioned for roles in local commercials and film productions because of their mother's friendship with a Cambridge-area casting director, and Affleck first acted professionally at the age of seven. His mother saved his wages in a college trust fund, and hoped her son would ultimately become a teacher, worrying that acting was an insecure and frivolous profession.
David Wheeler, a family friend, was Affleck's acting coach and later described him as a very bright and intensely curious child. When Affleck was 13, he filmed a children's television program in Mexico and learned to speak Spanish during a year spent traveling around the country with his mother and brother.As a Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school student, Affleck acted in theater productions and was inspired by drama teacher Gerry Speca. During this time he became close friends with Matt Damon, whom he had known since the age of eight.
Although Damon was two years older, the two had identical interests, and traveled to New York together for acting auditions. They saved their acting earnings in a joint bank account to buy train and airline tickets. While Affleck had high SAT scores, he was an unfocused student with poor attendance. He spent a few months studying Spanish at the University of Vermont, chosen because of its proximity to his then-girlfriend, but left after fracturing his hip while playing basketball.
At 18, Affleck moved to Los Angeles, studying Middle Eastern affairs at Occidental College for a year and a half.
Affleck was a longtime comic book fan, and had written a foreword for Kevin Smith's Guardian Devil (1999) about his love for the character of Daredevil. The film was a commercial success, but received a mixed response from critics. Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times said Affleck was lost in the role: A big man, Mr. Affleck is shriveled by the one-dimensional role .
.. [Only his scenes with Jon Favreau have] a playful side that allows Mr. Affleck to show his generosity as an actor. In 2014, Affleck described Daredevil as the only film he regretted making.
He next appeared as a low-ranking mobster in the romantic comedy Gigli (2003), co-starring Lopez. The film was almost uniformly panned, with Manohla Dargis of the Los Angeles Times remarking that Affleck doesn't have the chops or the charm to maneuver around (or past) bad material. Yet Affleck has repeatedly defended director Marty Brest since the film's release, describing him as one of the really great directors. In his last film role of 2003, Affleck starred as a reverse engineer in the sci-fi thriller Paycheck (2003).
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian remarked on Affleck's self-deprecating charm and wondered why he could not find better scripts. Manohla Dargis of the Los Angeles Times found it almost unfair to critique Affleck, given that he had such a rough year.Affleck's poor critical notices continued in 2004 when he starred as a bereaved husband in the romantic comedy Jersey Girl, directed by longtime collaborator Smith. Stephen Holden of The New York Times described Affleck as an actor whose talent has curdled as his tabloid notoriety has spread, while Joe Leydon of Variety found his onscreen role as a father affecting.
Later that year, he starred opposite James Gandolfini in the holiday comedy Surviving Christmas. Holden noted in The New York Times that the film found a clever way to use Ben Affleck's disagreeable qualities. The actor's shark-like grin, cocky petulance and bullying frat-boy swagger befit his character. At this point, the quality of scripts offered to Affleck was just getting worse and worse and he decided to take a career break.
The Los Angeles Times published a piece on the downfall of Affleck's career in late 2004. The article noted that, unlike film critics and tabloid journalists, few industry professionals seem to be gloating over Affleck's travails.
Daphne Merkin of The New Yorker remarked: Affleck demonstrates a sexy Paul Newmanish charm and is clearly bound for stardom. Later in 1998, Affleck had a supporting role as an arrogant English actor in the period romantic comedy Shakespeare in Love, starring his then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow. Lael Loewenstein of Variety remarked that Affleck does some of his very best work, suggesting that comedy may be his true calling, while Janet Maslin of The New York Times found him very funny. Shakespeare in Love won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, while the cast won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast.
Affleck then appeared as a small-town sheriff in the supernatural horror film Phantoms. Stephen Holden of The New York Times wondered why actors like Affleck and Peter O'Toole had agreed to appear in the junky film: Affleck's thudding performance suggests he is reading his dialogue for the first time, directly from cue cards.Affleck and Damon had an on-screen reunion in Kevin Smith's religious satire Dogma (after having appeared in Smith's previous films, Mallrats and Chasing Amy), which premiered at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. Janet Maslin of The New York Times remarked that the pair, playing fallen angels, bring great, understandable enthusiasm to Mr.
Smith's smart talk and wild imaginings. Affleck starred opposite Sandra Bullock in the romantic comedy Forces of Nature (1999), playing a groom whose attempts to get to his wedding are complicated by his free-spirited traveling companion. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly remarked that Affleck has the fast-break charm you want in a screwball hero, while Joe Leydon of Variety praised his winning ability to play against his good looks in a self-effacing comic turn. Affleck then appeared opposite Courtney Love in the little-seen ensemble comedy 200 Cigarettes (1999).
Interested in a directorial career, Affleck shadowed John Frankenheimer throughout pre-production of the action thriller Reindeer Games (2000). Frankenheimer, directing his last feature film, described Affleck as having a very winning, likable quality about him. I've been doing this for a long time and he's really one of the nicest. He starred opposite Charlize Theron as a hardened criminal, with Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times enjoying the unexpected casting choice: Affleck often suggests one of the Kennedys playing Clark Kent .
.. He looks as if he has never missed a party or a night's sleep. He's game, though, and his slight dislocation works to the advantage of Reindeer Games. He then had a supporting role as a ruthless stockbroker in the crime drama Boiler Room (2000).
A.O. Scott of The New York Times felt Affleck had traced over Alec Baldwin's performance in Glengarry Glen Ross, while Peter Rainer of New York Magazine said he does a series of riffs on Baldwin's aria, and each one is funnier and crueler than the next. He then provided the voice of Joseph in the animated Joseph: King of Dreams.
In his last film role of 2000, Affleck starred opposite his girlfriend Paltrow in the romantic drama Bounce. Stephen Holden of The New York Times praised the understated intensity and exquisite detail of his performance: His portrait of a young, sarcastically self-defined 'people person' who isn't half as confident as he would like to appear is close to definitive.Affleck reunited with director Michael Bay for the critically derided war drama Pearl Harbor (2001). He later characterized it as a film he did for money – for the wrong reasons.
A.O. Scott of The New York Times felt Affleck and Kate Beckinsale do what they can with their lines, and glow with the satiny shine of real movie stars. But Todd McCarthy of Variety said, the blandly handsome Affleck couldn’t convince that he’d ever so much as been turned down for a date, much less lost the love of his life to his best friend.
Affleck then parodied Good Will Hunting with Damon and Van Sant in Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), made a cameo in the comedy Daddy and Them (2001), and had a supporting role in the little-seen The Third Wheel (2002). He portrayed the CIA analyst Jack Ryan in the thriller The Sum of All Fears (2002). Stephen Holden of The New York Times felt he was miscast in a role previously played by both Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin: Although Mr. Affleck can be appealing when playing earnest young men groping toward maturity, he simply lacks the gravitas for the role.
Affleck had an amazing experience making the thriller Changing Lanes (2002), and later cited Roger Michell as someone he learned from as a director. Robert Koehler of Variety described it as one of the actor's most thoroughly wrought performances: The journey into a moral fog compels him to play more inwardly and thoughtfully than he ever has before.Affleck became more involved with television and film production in the early 2000s. He and Damon had set up Pearl Street Films in 1998, named after the street that ran between their childhood homes.
Their next production company LivePlanet, co-founded in 2000 with Sean Bailey and Chris Moore, sought to integrate the Internet into mainstream television and film production. LivePlanet's biggest success was the documentary series Project Greenlight, aired on HBO and later Bravo, which focused on first-time filmmakers being given the chance to direct a feature film. Project Greenlight was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program in 2002, 2004 and 2005. Push, Nevada (2002), created, written and produced by Affleck and Bailey, was an ABC mystery drama series that placed a viewer-participation game within the frame of the show.
Caryn James of The New York Times praised the show's nerve, imagination and clever writing, but Robert Bianco of USA Today described it as a knock-off of Twin Peaks. The show was cancelled by ABC after seven episodes due to low ratings. Over time, LivePlanet's focus shifted from multimedia projects to more traditional film production. Affleck and his partners signed a film production deal with Disney in 2002; it expired in 2007.