Ben Affleck

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Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck 2009 (cropped).jpg
Affleck in Los Angeles in 2009
Born Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt
(1972-08-15) August 15, 1972 (age 41)
Berkeley, California, U.S.
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater Occidental College
University of Vermont
Occupation Actor, director, producer, screenwriter
Years active 1981–present
Spouse(s) Jennifer Garner (m. 2005)
Children 3
Family Casey Affleck (brother)
Awards Awards and nominations

Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt (born August 15, 1972), better known as Ben Affleck, is an American actor, film director, screenwriter and producer. He first came to attention for his performances in Dazed and Confused (1993) and the Kevin Smith films Mallrats (1995), Chasing Amy (1997), and Dogma (1999). 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 starred in alongside childhood friend Matt Damon. He later achieved international recognition for appearing in films such as Armageddon (1998), Shakespeare in Love (1998), Pearl Harbor (2001), Changing Lanes (2002), The Sum of All Fears (2002), Daredevil (2003), Hollywoodland (2006) and State of Play (2009). In late 2014, he will star in David Fincher's Gone Girl and will portray Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).

Affleck has directed three films. He gained recognition for his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone (2007), winning the National Board of Review Award for Best Directorial Debut. He then directed and starred in The Town (2010) and Argo (2012), for which he won 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 will direct and adapt the novel Live by Night for a 2016 theatrical release.

Affleck and Matt Damon own the film production company Pearl Street Films. He has a younger brother, actor Casey Affleck, whom he has worked with on films including Good Will Hunting and Gone Baby Gone. In addition to film work, Affleck is actively involved in politics and charitable causes; he is the co-founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative. He has been married to actress Jennifer Garner since 2005; they have three children.

Early life[edit]

Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt was born in Berkeley, California on August 15, 1972.[1][2] His parents named him Géza after a Hungarian friend who survived the Holocaust.[3][4] His ancestry includes Irish, English, Scottish, German, Swedish, and French.[5][6] The family moved to Massachusetts when he was two;[7] living in Falmouth, where his brother Casey was born, before settling in Cambridge.[8] His mother, Christopher Anne "Chris" Affleck (née Boldt),[9] was raised on New York's Upper East Side by her mother Elizabeth Shaw (née Roberts), director of public information at the Museum of Modern Art for over thirty years,[10][11] and her mother's second husband, Samuel Shaw, an attorney who served in World War II.[12][13][14][15] Her father, O'Brien "Obie" Boldt, was a Democratic activist and professor of political science at the City University of New York.[16][17][18][19] Chris was educated at Radcliffe College and Harvard University,[20][21] was a Mississippi freedom rider in the 1960s, and taught at The Brearley School before becoming a public elementary school teacher.[22][23]

Affleck's father, Timothy Byers Affleck of Rhode Island, was a stage manager, director, writer and actor with the Theater Company of Boston in the mid-1960s[24][25][26] and worked alongside Dustin Hoffman,[27][28] Robert Duvall, Blythe Danner,[29] Jon Voight[30][31] and James Woods.[32][33] During Affleck's childhood, he worked as an auto mechanic,[7][34] a carpenter,[35] a bookie,[30][36] an electrician,[29] a bartender[37] and a janitor at Harvard University.[2][38][39][40] While Affleck has described his father as a "very gifted writer and thinker",[30] his chronic alcoholism often made Affleck's childhood "scary and trying."[3][29] His parents divorced when he was eleven and Affleck was raised by his mother.[4][32] His father's life "hit the skids" in Affleck's teens.[3][30][41] When Affleck was sixteen, his father moved to Indio, California, entered rehab, became an addiction counselor and later reconnected with his adult sons.[29][42][43][44]

Affleck was raised in a "very left-wing" household in the Central Square area of Cambridge.[30][45] Affleck and his brother were surrounded by people who worked in the arts, were regularly taken to the theater by their mother, and were encouraged to make their own home movies.[8][46][47] The brothers auditioned for roles in local film productions because their mother was friends with a casting director.[37][48] David Wheeler, another family friend, was Affleck's acting coach and later described him as a "very bright and intensely curious" child.[49][50] Affleck had acting jobs from the age of seven but his mother wanted her children to have a normal childhood;[51] she saved Affleck's wages in a college trust fund and only allowed him to audition during school holidays.[8][32][32][45][52] When Affleck was thirteen, he filmed a children's television program in Mexico; he spent nearly a year traveling around the country with his mother and brother and learned to speak Spanish.[8][53][54] Affleck later said that he has mixed feelings about being a child actor.[8][55][56][57]

At age eight, Affleck became friends with ten-year-old Matt Damon, who lived two blocks away and had recently moved back to the area.[58] Their mothers, who both worked in education and were acquaintances, made the introduction and encouraged them to spend time together.[59][60] Their circle of friends included Casey Affleck and future screenwriter Aaron Stockard.[48][61] The pair became extremely close while high school students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin.[8] Although they were in different grades, they had "identical interests" and spent their lunch breaks discussing their plans to become actors.[8][59][62] Both were greatly inspired by their high school drama teacher Gerry Speca, who encouraged them to write their own plays.[63][64][65] Affleck and Damon had many summer jobs together, working as construction workers and cinema ushers.[61][66][67] As teenagers, they traveled to New York for acting auditions, saving money for train and airline tickets in a joint bank account.[62][68]

While Affleck had good SAT scores,[32][45] he was an unfocused high school student with poor attendance.[3][32][41] He was accepted by the University of Virginia but instead followed a girlfriend to the University of Vermont, where he took Spanish classes.[45] He left the university months later with no credits, after fracturing his hip and realizing his love was unrequited.[69] He then moved to Los Angeles, studying Middle Eastern affairs at Occidental College for a year and a half.[70][71][72] He dropped out when a creative writing professor ridiculed an early draft of the Good Will Hunting screenplay.[30][73]

Career[edit]

Child actor and Good Will Hunting (1984–97)[edit]

Affleck had acting jobs through his childhood "but not in the sense that I had a mom that wanted to take me to Hollywood or a family that wanted to make money from me ... I kind of chanced into something."[74] He first appeared, at the age of seven, in Dark Side of the Street, a local independent film directed by a family friend.[52][75] Affleck's biggest success as a child actor came as the star of the PBS children's series The Voyage of the Mimi (1984) and The Second Voyage of the Mimi (1988). From the ages of eight to fifteen, Affleck worked "sporadically" on the shows, produced for sixth-grade science classes, in Gloucester, Massachusetts and Mexico.[74] He also appeared in a Burger King commercial,[65] a 1986 ABC after school special called Wanted: A Perfect Man[76] and, when he was fifteen, a TV movie called Hands of a Stranger with Forest Whitaker.[74] At the age of fifteen, he was cast as the lead in a movie opposite Sam Kinison and Christopher Walken. However, the New York-based production shut down after two days because of Kinison's drug issues.[51] Affleck and Matt Damon appeared together in a commercial for T.J. Maxx[77][78] and as extras in Field of Dreams.[79]

While studying at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Affleck directed a 16-minute student film called I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney.[80][81][82] Written and starring Affleck's longtime friend Jay Lacopo, Affleck later said the film was "atrocious".[83][84] Affleck and Damon befriended other aspiring actors including Cole Hauser, Rory Cochrane and Matthew McConaughey.[85] The childhood friends lived together in apartments all over Los Angeles.[35] Affleck had a series of "knock-around parts, one to the next."[74] He was Patrick Duffy’s son in Danielle Steel’s Daddy in 1991. He played a football coach in the swiftly-cancelled series Against the Grain, and a high school sportsman who abuses steroids in Body to Die For: The Aaron Henry Story, and appeared in Phantoms. He made a brief appearance in the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Affleck had a role in Lifestories: Families in Crisis, as a steroid-abusing athlete. He starred in Glory Daze, which the New York Times described as an "affably mopey performance finds just the right balance between obnoxious and sad sack."[74][86]

Affleck had supporting roles as an anti-Semite in School Ties (1992)[87] and as a high school bully in Richard Linklater's cult classic Dazed and Confused (1993).[88] Linklater sought a likeable actor for the role. While Affleck was "big and imposing," he was "so smart and full of life ... I just liked him."[89][90][91] Affleck later said the most valuable lesson was how Linklater "empowered actors to improvise."[84][92] Affleck played another unlikeable character in Mallrats (1995) and began to worry that he would be relegated to "throwing people into their lockers for the rest of my career." However, he became friends with director Kevin Smith during filming. Smith then wrote Chasing Amy (1997) with Affleck in mind.[51][93] Affleck lived on the director's couch during production.[74] Chasing Amy was a landmark moment for the actor: "I hadn't had a real movie, a good movie that felt like the fulfillment of my dreams before that."[51][94] In 2007, he said Smith "is responsible for a great deal throughout my career."[94] He then appeared in Phantoms; while he was excited to work with Peter O'Toole, he has admitted the finished movie was "abysmal."[74] Chasing Amy and Going All the Way both premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, with The New York Times describing Affleck as "a suave-looking actor whose flair for comic self-doubt made a strong impression."[95] Affleck has said the festival was "the most amazing experience. I will never forget how gratifying it was to feel like somebody actually saw something I did."[51]

Affleck came to national attention working with Damon in Good Will Hunting in 1997,[96] for which they shared writing credit and received the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.[97] They also starred in the film. Good Will Hunting's success transformed Affleck from a virtual unknown into a celebrity. The screenplay originated with Damon writing a 40-page script for Anthony Kubiak's playwriting class at Harvard. Damon asked Affleck to act out the scenes with him for the class and, when Damon later moved into Affleck's L.A. apartment, they began writing the script in earnest.[37][59] Affleck later said that much of the "resentment" about Harvard evident in Good Will Hunting came from his insecurity about not attending a "fancy" university.[43] Affleck's father's life was an inspiration for the film.[35] Terrence Malick, a friend of Affleck's godfather, agreed to meet with the pair to give notes on their script.[58] Affleck has said that period in his life was "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, 'Hundred Million Box Office! Awards!'"[69]

Blockbuster movies and tabloid notoriety (1998–2004)[edit]

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 starred in Armageddon (1998) opposite Bruce Willis.[98] The film received mixed to negative critical reviews,[99] but was a box-office success, earning $553 million worldwide.[100] Affleck later described it as a "magical", ""Hey, I've made it" experience.[101] In 1998, he also starred in the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love with Gwyneth Paltrow. In 1999, he co-starred with Sandra Bullock in the romantic comedy Forces of Nature.[102] He then starred in Bounce with Gwyneth Paltrow.[103] He appeared in Reindeer Games (2001), directed by John Frankenheimer, who described Affleck as having "s a very winning likable quality about him. I've been doing this for a long time and he's really one of the nicest - really one of the nicest."[104] In 2001, Affleck collaborated with Armageddon director Michael Bay in the war film Pearl Harbor. The film opened to a mixed to negative reception,[105][106] but was a box-office success, earning $449 million worldwide.[107]

Affleck next appeared in Boiler Room.[108] Along with Damon and producers Chris Moore and Sean Bailey, Affleck founded the production company LivePlanet in 2000, seeking to integrate the internet into mainstream television and film production.[109][110] The four created the documentary series Project Greenlight, as well as the failed mystery-hybrid series Push, Nevada, among other projects.[111] Project Greenlight was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program in 2002, 2004, and 2005.[112][113]

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.[114] Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post wrote that Affleck and Freeman "create a believable chemistry".[115] In the same year, Affleck starred opposite Samuel L. Jackson in the popular thriller Changing Lanes.[116][117] He later said the film was an "amazing experience," and that he learned from director Roger Michell.[74]

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[118][119] 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."[120] 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."[121] Roger Ebert, in review of Daredevil, wrote that both Affleck and co‑star Jennifer Garner were suitable for their roles.[122] Daredevil grossed over $179 million worldwide.[100] In 2014, Affleck said Daredevil was "only movie I actually regret ... It just kills me. I love that story, that character, and the fact that it got fucked up the way it did stays with me."[84]

Despite some critical missteps, his box-office successes reportedly earned Affleck an average of $15 million per film.[123] He also starred in Jersey Girl in 2004, directed by longtime collaborator Kevin Smith. While Affleck remains a fan of Smith's work,[124][125] they have communicated mainly via email since 2005.[126][127]

Following Daredevil, Affleck starred in several critically panned box-office flops, including Gigli (2003).[128] Affleck has repeatedly defended director Marty Brest since the film's release, arguing that the film would have been a "noble failure" if studio executives hadn't ordered re-shoots to market it as a romantic comedy.[129] He has described Brest as "one of the really great directors" and Midnight Run as his favourite film.[130][131] He thanked Brest in his 2013 Oscar acceptance speech for Argo's Best Picture win.[132]

In 2003, Affleck became, in the words of GQ, the "world's most over-exposed actor".[133] In February 2003, Affleck said the media attention surrounding his relationship with Lopez filled him with a sense of "drew ... People are going to grow weary of this."[119] An Off-Broadway play about Affleck and Matt Damon, written by and starring Mindy Kaling, characterised Affleck as "cute but dumb" and suggested that the screenplay for Good Will Hunting fell from the sky.[134] In 2003, the Wall Street Journal found that Affleck had an 82 percent recognition factor among members of the public, up from 75 percent the previous year. However, the percentage of people who don't like him also rose, from 12 percent to 18 percent.[135] In early 2004, Affleck remarked: "There is a real downside to having a barrage of personal publicity out there. It just makes it that much harder for people to forget all that when they're watching a movie."[136] He then took a two-year break because "I was a little bit exhausted of myself and my life, so I wanted to try to control it or manage it."[137] However, he has also stated that his transformation has been overstated: "I definitely reject the narrative that says, you know, Bad Guy Turns It Around. My life isn't Behind the Music. I wasn't a criminal!"[138] He has said that "the quality of scripts I was seeing was just getting worse and worse."[108]

Hollywoodland and Gone Baby Gone (2005–2008)[edit]

Affleck speaking at a rally for Feed America in 2009

Affleck starred in the critically acclaimed George Reeves noir biopic Hollywoodland, directed by HBO TV-series veteran Allen Coulter.[139] 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."[140] Claudia Puig wrote in USA Today that Affleck gives a "strong performance".[141] 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,[142] and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture.[143] Following the success of Hollywoodland, he appeared in the action film Smokin' Aces (2007), playing Jack Dupree, a bounty hunter.[144] Smokin' Aces received mixed reviews from critics[145] and was a moderate success at the box office .[100]

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.[146] He began writing the screenplay in 2003.[147] His brother Casey starred in the film.[148] It opened to rave reviews in October 2007.[149] 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."[150] The film received critical acclaim.[151] In Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum noted that Affleck "shows excellent instincts" as a director.[152] 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."[153]

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.[154][155] 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.[155]

The Town and Argo (2009–2013)[edit]

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.[156] The film generated mostly mixed reviews,[157] but was a box-office success, earning $165 million worldwide.[100]

Ben Affleck and Jon Hamm on the set of The Town (2010)

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.[158] In the comedy film Extract, Affleck played Dean, a bartender, and the best friend to Jason Bateman's character.[159] 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."[160]

Following the modest success of his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, Affleck met with Warner Brothers Pictures president Jeff Robinov, who invited him to become part of the Warner Brothers "family" and gave Affleck his choice of the studio's scripts.[161][162] Affleck has described it as a "dream relationship": "I wasn't having those meetings with every studio."[162][163] 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.[164] 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.[165]

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,[166] 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.[167] 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.[168] 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.[169][170][171][172] The film was again hailed as a comeback.[173] In 2013, he received an honorary doctorate from Brown University.[174]

Gone Girl and Batman v Superman (2014–)[edit]

Affleck will star in David Fincher's adaptation of Gone Girl in 2014.[175] He has said working with Fincher was "instructive and inspirational."[176] He will play Batman in the 2016 Man of Steel sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.[177] Affleck has said that while he respects fans' "strongly held opinions", "I don’t think projections about something that hasn’t happened yet are all that meaningful."[175] Affleck will then begin directing an adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel Live By Night; he also wrote the adapted screenplay for the "big, sweeping gangster-epic morality story."[84][178][179] The film will be released in 2016.[180] Affleck has co-written a screenplay with brother Casey and David Mandel for the baseball drama The Trade, to be directed by Jay Roach.[181][182] He has also co-written an unknown screenplay with Peter Morgan.[183] In early 2015, Affleck and Damon will begin filming the fourth season of Project Greenlight for HBO, a decade after the third season aired.[184] Their production company Pearl Street Films is named after the street that ran between their Cambridge homes.[185]

Political views[edit]

Charitable and humanitarian projects[edit]

Affleck is a philanthropist. Affleck's support of the non-profit charitable organization the A-T Children's Project,[186] began while he was filming Forces of Nature.[97][139] Affleck met a then nine-year-old child, Joe Kindregan, who has the rare disease ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T).[97][139] 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.[97][139] Affleck attends benefits and spoke to Congress to advocate for the charity,[97][139] and in 2007 was the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony of Falls Church High School in Fairfax, Virginia, from which Kindregan was graduating.[187] He is also involved with Feeding America and Paralyzed Veterans of America.[188]

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."[189] In December 2008, he teamed up with the United Nations releasing a short film highlighting the plight of Congolese refugees,[190][191] and, in 2009, wrote an essay for Time on the issue.[192] 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".[193] Affleck has worked with Cindy McCain to raise awareness of the region's conflict.[194][195] He visited the region again in 2012.[196] In April 2013, Affleck announced that he would take part in Global Poverty Project's "Live Below the Line" campaign, which consists of living on $1.50 a day to raise awareness of extreme poverty around the world.[197][198] In June 2013, Affleck and Bill Clinton co-hosted a charity event for The Clinton Foundation and the Eastern Congo Initiative in Beverly Hills.[199][200]

U.S. politics[edit]

Affleck attended a screening of Good Will Hunting at Camp David with Bill and Hillary Clinton.[20] 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."[201] 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.[202] "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."[201] 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.[203]

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.[201] 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".[201] 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".[204]

In May 2000, Affleck spoke at a rally at Harvard with living wage supporters; his father had worked as a janitor at the university. He later narrated a documentary, Occupation (2002), about the campaign.[205] 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".[206] 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."[207] In 2002, he supported former classmate Marjorie Decker in her bid as a Democratic city councillor in Massachusetts[208] and campaigned with New York Sen. Charles Schumer to toughen nuclear security.[49] In 2003, he visited troops in the Persian Gulf.[209]

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.[210] During the first day of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he was featured on Larry King Live with Tucker Carlson and Al Sharpton.[211] 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.[212] Also in 2004, he campaigned with Ted Kennedy to push for an increase in the minimum wage.[49][213] He attended the White House Correspondent's Dinner.[214] Also that year, he spoke out in support of gay marriage.[215]

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."[216] He also appeared in a print advertisement with his openly gay cousin in support of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.[217]

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."[218] In 2005, he supported the campaign of Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Deval Patric.[219] In 2006, he supported then-Senator Barack Obama at a rally, introducing him as "the most galvanizing leader to come out of either party, in my opinion, in at least a decade."[220] In 2007, he appeared in global warming awareness clips produced by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Center for American Progress Action Fund.[221] In 2007, he filmed an appearance in a nonpartisan campaign launched by the AARP seeking affordable, quality health care in America.[222] During the 2008 Democratic Convention, Affleck supported Second Harvest.[223] He developed a friendship with Anthony Weiner in 2008, meeting repeatedly, over dinner in Washington and New York, in preparation for his role as a politician in State of Play.[224]

Following the death of Howard Zinn, Affleck described him as "one of the great voices in the American political life ... I was lucky enough to know him personally, and I will carry with me what I learned from him - and try to impart it to my own children - in his memory."[225] On December 21, 2010, Affleck appeared on NPR and criticized CEOs for making so much money.[226] He also stated that, "we've devolved into pure political gamesmanship over any kind of substance."[227] On March 14, 2012, Affleck wrote an article endorsing the Kony 2012 campaign.[228] 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".[229] In 2012, Affleck spoke alongside Hillary Clinton at Georgetown University as part of the child survival initiative. Clinton said of him: "I've known this young man for a long time and I have watched him start his own family with three beautiful children and a wife that makes it all work. I have enjoyed him in person, I have enjoyed him on the screen, but I particularly admire his commitment."[230] In 2013, he appeared on stage with Hillary Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative event.[231]

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.[232] In late 2013, Affleck sent a fundraising letter for Bill Clinton's Clinton Global Initiative.[233] On 26 February 2014, Affleck was set to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss the mass killings of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Affleck is criticized for not having a "qualified resume" to take part in such activities–his only experience consisting of his philanthropic organization, the Eastern Congo Initiative. One aide at the House Foreign Affairs Committee claimed "People serious about resolving problems - especially problems related to life and death - want to have serious conversations with experts and leaders in the field; not celebrities." In response, to defend Affleck, another aide state "I think there's value in having someone like Ben there, he's pretty invested in the issue."[234][235][236]

Personal life[edit]

Family[edit]

Affleck is married to actress Jennifer Garner. They began dating in mid-2004, after co-starring in Daredevil together.[237][238][239][240] They became engaged in April 2005 and were married on June 29, 2005 in a low-key Turks and Caicos ceremony. Victor Garber, who officiated the ceremony, was the only guest.[139][237][241][242][243] The couple have three children: daughters Violet Anne (b. December 2005)[244] and Seraphina Rose Elizabeth (b. January 2009),[245] and son Samuel Garner (b. February 2012).[246][247] They have year-round homes in Los Angeles and Massachusetts, and an apartment in New York. The family own an 83-acre estate on the secluded Hampton Island near Savannah, Georgia. Affleck purchased the Greek Revival vacation home in 2003 for $7 million,[248][249][250][251][252] after filming Forces of Nature in the area.[215]

Paparazzi[edit]

The tragic thing is, people who see those pictures naturally think it's sweet. They don't see the gigantic former gang member with a huge lens standing over a four-year-old and screaming to get the kid's attention. The kids are always looking down because they're freaked out and scared of these people ... When people are around that, when they see twenty photographers taking photographs of a four-year-old, they're horrified. It's just that you don't see the sausage being made.

-Affleck on the interest in his family life[253][254]

While Affleck believes paparazzi attention is "part of the deal" of stardom, he has spoken out against paparazzi interest in his children: "They're not celebrities ... I don't think it's healthy societally and I know it's not healthy for my kids."[254] He believes the paparazzi specifically target his children: "If I drive out [of my house] and they see the kids aren't in my car, they will wait for Jen. If they see Jen without the kids, they'll wait for me."[253] He attributes the media interest to "housewives who hold up their child rearing to the child rearing of these [famous] parents."[253] "I really object to the objectification, the commercialisation of images of children."[254] He and his wife considered moving from Los Angeles to New York City but found the paparazzi there worse: "We try to shelter them, but then they don't leave the house, and that's weird. I don't want my kids to be weirdos."[253]

Affleck and his wife met with California lawmakers "to get legislation passed to establish a certain distance between paparazzi and children and also to prevent the stalking behavior on the part of the paparazzi ... I understand we won't be able to prevent them from taking photos of children or get them to blur the faces, even though I think that would be preferable. But at the very least there should be a bubble of safety ... I think the First Amendment and the public's right to know are adequately served by photographers who are at least 100 feet away."[255]

Relationships[edit]

Affleck previously had high-profile relationships with actress Gwyneth Paltrow and actress/singer Jennifer Lopez. He met Paltrow at the premiere of Good Will Hunting in 1997.[97] They dated from October 1997 to January 1999.[20] During their breakup, Paltrow persuaded Affleck to co-star with her in Bounce.[256] In November 1999, after Bounce wrapped, they became a couple again but separated for good in October 2000.[257] Their split was amicable.[258] Paltrow later said that Affleck "makes life tough for himself. He's got a lot of complication, and you know, he really is a great guy."[259] Affleck responded: "She's probably right about that. I trust her opinion about most things. Not all, but most. I think I probably do get in my own way."[260]

In late 2001 Affleck began dating Lopez, whom he had met while filming Gigli.[139][261][262] They became engaged in November 2002,[263] and the relationship between the two received much attention from the entertainment media, who dubbed the couple "Bennifer".[139] Their planned wedding on September 14, 2003 in Santa Barbara, California was postponed with four days notice because of press leaks and the resulting "excessive media attention".[264] In December 2003, Affleck said that they were trying to be more low-profile.[209][265] The couple broke up in January 2004.[266] The couple remain on good terms.[267] Affleck has said that, while he has made plenty of mistakes in life, "I just don't view that as one of them."[268][269] "The temptation is to say that I wouldn't have done any of the press we did for Gigli, but you're paid really well to do these movies, and the expectation is that you're going to support them."[270] In 2013, Affleck said he and Lopez occasionally "touch base" via email: "I respect her. I like her."[271]

Affleck remains close friends with Matt Damon, remarking in 2014: "Having a friend you've been connected to since you were a little kid, that's grounding. Matt and my brother Casey are the two people I rely on the most, emotionally and professionally."[30] They've lived near each other in Los Angeles since 2012, with Affleck commenting, "I've been hounding him and hounding him to live here so our kids can know each other and go to the same schools and hang out the way we did and finally he caved."[41][272]

Professional gambling[edit]

An avid poker player, Affleck has regularly entered local events. He has been tutored by poker professionals Amir Vahedi and Annie Duke. Duke has said Affleck "has the talent to become a fixture but not the time or inclination."[273] He appeared on Celebrity Poker Showdown in 2003. He won the California State Poker Championship on June 20, 2004, taking home the first prize of $356,400, which qualified him for the 2004 World Poker Tour final tournament.[274][275]

Affleck played in private, high-stakes, poker games held in Los Angeles area homes and hotel suites in the mid-2000s.[276] Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tobey Maguire were also known to frequent the games. The game organizer, Molly Bloom, later wrote a memoir, which was serialized in Vanity Fair.[277] In it, she described Affleck as a "smart" player with "a relaxed charisma" who "liked to limit his downside, especially at a table with a bunch of guys he wasn’t used to playing with."[278][279] "He didn't stay all night like a lot of the guys. He always had a specific time when he would stand up at the table. He would leave at a reasonable hour. He never lost a great deal. He usually won."[280]

In 2014, Affleck was banned from playing blackjack at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, after a series of wins aroused suspicion that he was counting cards; the gambling strategy is frowned upon by casinos.[281]

While there have occasionally been tabloid headlines about Affleck's gambling, he doesn't feel "that it's a big issue for me," enjoying as he does its "psychological aspects," rather than the potential payoff. "People think, 'This is a person who's prone to being swept up in bad behavior.' Just because I don't drink, I don't live in a convent."[136] He has spoken out against the assumption that, "If you're associated with [an addiction], you must have other problems, too ... It's seen as 'This guy's crazy.'"[270] "

Alcohol rehabilitation[edit]

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".[282] Affleck later described the decision as a "pre-emptive strike" given his family's history of alcoholism: "I just didn’t want it to get to that point."[283]

Media outlets speculated that Affleck was intoxicated during a 2004 interview with French-Canadian television presenter Anne-Marie Losique.[284] His representative later denied this.[285] Affleck and Losique had a long-running comedic routine since the 1990s, with Affleck taking on the persona of a drunken Frenchman in their interviews.[286][287][288][289] In one such clip, he joked about the "performance art".[290]

Miscellaneous[edit]

He was named Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine in 2002.[49] Affleck has described himself as a lapsed Protestant.[291] In 2007, he said he considered his faith a "private matter", but chose the Book of Matthew as one of the books that made a difference in his life.[198] He is a fan of the Boston Red Sox,[292] New England Patriots,[293] Boston Celtics,[294] and Boston Bruins.[295]

Filmography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Pierce Brosnan
People's Sexiest Man Alive
2002
Succeeded by
Johnny Depp