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Ben Affleck (born Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt; August 15, 1972) is an American actor, film director, writer, and producer. He became known in the mid-1990s after his involvement in the film Mallrats (1995), and later played the lead role in Chasing Amy in 1997. Affleck has since become an Academy Award winner along with Matt Damon for their collaborative screenplay in the 1997 film Good Will Hunting. He has established himself as a Hollywood leading man, having starred in several big budget films, such as Armageddon (1998), Pearl Harbour (2001), Changing Lanes (2002), The Sum of All Fears (2002), and Daredevil (2003). Affleck recently has drawn critical acclaim for his work as a filmmaker in Gone Baby Gone (2007) and The Town (2010). In the latter of which he played the main role. He has collaborated on occasion with his younger brother, actor Casey Affleck.
After a high profile relationship with actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998, his relationship with actress/singer Jennifer Lopez attracted worldwide media attention in which Affleck and Lopez were dubbed as "Bennifer". Following their breakup in 2004, he began dating Jennifer Garner. The two married in June 2005 and have two daughters, Violet Anne, born December 2005, and Seraphina Rose Elizabeth, born January 2009. Affleck has been actively involved in politics, along with a non-profit organization called the A-T Children's Project. He and Matt Damon also founded the production company LivePlanet.
Affleck was born in Berkeley, California, the son of Christine Anne "Chris" ( née Boldt), a school district employee and teacher; and Timothy Byers Affleck, a drug counselor, social worker, janitor, auto mechanic, bartender, and former actor with the Theatre Company of Boston. Affleck's mother attended Harvard University and currently teaches in Cambridge Public Schools. His younger brother is actor Casey Affleck. Affleck has Irish, Scottish, and English ancestry, and is a distant cousin of actor Matt Damon. He was raised in a mostly Episcopal 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. The two would later attend Cambridge Rindge and Latin School together, although they were in different year groups. Affleck attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, as well as the University of Vermont.
Affleck worked as a child actor, appearing on the PBS kids' series The Voyage of the Mimi as well as in several movies made for television. Throughout the 1990s, he had acted roles in Lifestories: Families in Crisis as a steroid-abusing athlete, as well as in several notable films, including 1992's School Ties (with Damon), the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie (uncredited), 1993's Dazed and Confused, 1995's Mallrats and 1997's Chasing Amy. 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.
He came to national attention working with Damon in Good Will Hunting in 1997, for which they shared credit and received the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. 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 amongst other projects. Project Greenlight was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program in 2002, 2004 and 2005.
Following Good Will Hunting, Affleck starred in Armageddon (1998) as A. J. Frost, opposite Bruce Willis. The film generated mostly 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 Harbour. The film generated mixed reception, but was a box office success, earning $449 million worldwide.
In 2002 he was cast as Jack Ryan in the action film The Sum of All Fears. The movie also starred Morgan Freeman. The Sum of All Fears is based on the book of the same name by Tom Clancy. Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post wrote, Affleck and Freeman "create a believable chemistry". In the same year, Affleck starred opposite Samuel L. Jackson in the thriller Changing Lanes.
The following year he starred as the titular character Matt Murdock/Daredevil in Mark Steven Johnson's 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 stated another reason, being "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. Following Daredevil, Affleck starred in several critically panned box office flops, including Gigli (2003) and Surviving Christmas (2004), and his career waned considerably.
2006 to present
Affleck made what could be considered a comeback with the September 2006 release of 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, in review of the film, 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 of USA Today wrote that Affleck gives a "strong performance". For his performance, he was awarded the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival and 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 2007 action film Smokin' Aces. In the film, Affleck plays Jack Dupree, a bounty hunter. Smokin' Aces received mixed reviews from critics, and was a box office failure. Also in 2007, Affleck made his directorial debut, which starred his brother Casey, with Gone Baby Gone, for which he also co-wrote the screenplay, about two Boston area detectives investigating a little girl's kidnapping and how it affects their lives. Based on the book by Dennis Lehane, 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. Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly 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."
In 2009, Affleck returned to film, 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, 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, Affleck played Congressman Stephen Collins, an adaptation of the British television serial State of Play. The film is a political thriller which raises questions about 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 also a part of the cast that also includes Golden Globe-winner Jon Hamm, the Oscar-nominated Jeremy Renner, the Oscar-winning actor Chris Cooper and Gossip Girl-actress Blake Lively.
Affleck will star in an upcoming romantic drama written and directed by Terrence Malick, alongside Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz. Filming took place in fall 2010 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
Affleck's support of the non-profit organization, the A-T Children's Project, began after meeting Joe Kindregan while filming Forces of Nature. Kindregan, who was then nine years old, has the rare disease called ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T). Affleck attends benefits and spoke to Congress to advocate for the A-T Children's Project. 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. In 2007, Affleck was the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony of Falls Church High School in Fairfax, Virginia, from which Kindregan was graduating.
On June 23, 2008, he appeared in an ABC News exclusive exploring the humanitarian crisis in Congo. Affleck travelled to Congo 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 circumstance 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 refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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."
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 prior to 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 also 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 Caribbean. They have two daughters, Violet Anne, born on December 1, 2005 and Seraphina Rose Elizabeth, born on January 6, 2009. He has a holiday home in Savannah, Georgia, and the family was in Cambridge for the summer in 2006 while Affleck was directing Gone, Baby, Gone.
Affleck describes himself as a lapsed Protestant.
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."
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.
According to The Sunday Times, Affleck was apparently circumcised in adulthood, after suffering injury during the filming of a movie; a doctor decided that removing his foreskin would be easier than repairing it. He has since made it known that he is against routine infant circumcision.
Affleck got his first tattoo when he was sixteen. He now has about a half-dozen including a tattoo of a dolphin that was used to cover up a tattoo of his high school sweetheart's name. The tattoos have been done by numerous artists including Paul Timman. He quit smoking after starring in the 2007 film Smokin' Aces, in which he was required to smoke heavily, and lost his taste for it after a week of chain-smoking for his role. According to People Magazine Affleck is considered to have one of the most beautiful noses in the world.
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.
On November 6, 2000, the final day of the campaign, he 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 a.m., 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 a.m. when he made his final public pitch from a Rockefeller Centre 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."
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 political figures Ronald Reagan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger both came from the entertainment business. On December 21, 2010, Ben Affleck appeared on NPR and criticized CEO's for making so much money. "And 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 Greenbriar resort.
|1981||The Dark End of the Street||Kid in the street|
|1984||The Voyage of the Mimi||C.T. Granville||TV series|
|1987||Hands of a Stranger||Billy Hearn||TV movie|
|1988||The Second Voyage of the Mimi||C.T. Granville||TV series|
|1991||Almost Home||Kevin Johnson||TV series|
|Daddy||Ben Watson||TV movie|
|1992||School Ties||Chesty Smith|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Player 10|
|1993||Dazed and Confused||Fred O'Bannion|
|Against the Grain||Joe Willie Clemons||TV series; 8 episodes|
|1997||Good Will Hunting||Chuckie Sullivan|| Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) shared with Matt Damon
Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay shared with Matt Damon
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
|Chasing Amy||Holden McNeil|
|Going All the Way||Tom "Gunner" Casselman|
|1998||Shakespeare in Love||Ned Alleyn|| Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated — American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
|Armageddon||A. J. Frost||Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Performance - Male
Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo shared with Liv Tyler
Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated — Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple shared with Liv Tyler
|Phantoms||Sheriff Bryce Hammond|
|Forces of Nature||Ben Holmes|
|2000||Bounce||Buddy Amaral||Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss shared with Gwyneth Paltrow|
|Reindeer Games||Rudy Duncan|
|Boiler Room||Jim Young|
|Joseph: King of Dreams||Joseph||Voice|
|2001||Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back||Holden McNeil/Himself|
|Daddy and Them||Lawrence Bowen|
|Pearl Harbour||1st Lt/Captain Rafe McCawley||Nominated - Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple shared with Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett
Nominated - Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor
|2002||The Sum of All Fears||Jack Ryan|
|Changing Lanes||Gavin Banek|
|2003||Daredevil||Matt Murdock/Daredevil|| Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor also for Gigli and Paycheck
Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss shared with Jennifer Garner
|Gigli||Larry Gigli|| Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor also for Daredevil and Paycheck
Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple shared with Jennifer Lopez
|Paycheck||Michael Jennings||Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor also for Gigli and Daredevil|
|2004||Surviving Christmas||Drew Latham||Nominated - Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor also for Jersey Girl|
|Jersey Girl||Ollie Trinke||Nominated - Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor also for Surviving Christmas
Nominated - Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple shared with Liv Tyler and Jennifer Lopez
|2005||Elektra||Matt Murdock/Daredevil||(Scene cut)|
|2006||Clerks II||Gawking Guy|
|Hollywoodland||George Reeves|| Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Hollywood Film Festival Award for Supporting Actor of the Year
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
|Man About Town||Jack Giamoro|
|2007||Smokin' Aces||Jack Dupree|
|2009||He's Just Not That Into You||Neil|
|State of Play||Stephen Collins|
|2010||The Company Men||Bobby Walker|
|The Town||Doug MacRay|
|2007||Gone Baby Gone|| Austin Film Critics Award for Best First Film
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Filmmaker
Hollywood Film Festival Award for Breakthrough Director of the Year
National Board of Review Award for Best Directorial Debut
Nominated— Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Filmmaker
|2008||Gimme Shelter||short film|
|1997||Good Will Hunting||All the following shared with Matt Damon:
Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Writer
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Newcomer of the Year
Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
Humanitas Prize (Feature Film Category)
National Board of Review Special Achievement in Filmmaking
Satellite Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated— Chlotrudis Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated— London Film Critics' Circle Award for Screenwriter of the Year
Nominated— MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo
Nominated— Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated— Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay
|2007||Gone Baby Gone|
|2001–2005||Project Greenlight||Executive Producer
Nominated— Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program (2002, 2004, 2005)
|2002||Push, Nevada||Executive Producer|
|2003||The Battle of Shaker Heights||Producer|
|2007||Gone Baby Gone||Producer|