Affleck in June 2006
|Born||Caleb Casey McGuire Affleck
August 12, 1975
Falmouth, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Alma mater||George Washington University
|Spouse(s)||Summer Phoenix (m. 2006; separated 2016)|
|Relatives||Ben Affleck (brother)
Joaquin Phoenix (brother-in-law)
Rain Phoenix (sister-in-law)
Liberty Phoenix (sister-in-law)
Caleb Casey McGuire Affleck (born August 12, 1975), better known as Casey Affleck, is an American actor, film director, screenwriter, and producer. He first came to attention for his performances in Gus Van Sant's films To Die For (1995), Good Will Hunting (1997), and Gerry (2002). He appeared in the Ocean's Trilogy (2001–2007), a caper comedy film series, as Virgil Malloy.
Affleck starred in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and Gone Baby Gone, directed by his brother Ben Affleck. In 2010, he directed the mockumentary I'm Still Here, starring his brother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix. He also received critical acclaim for his performance in Out of the Furnace and Ain't Them Bodies Saints (both 2013).
Affleck was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts. He has English, Irish, German, Scottish, French, and Swedish ancestry. His mother, Christopher Anne "Chris" (née Boldt), was raised on New York's Upper East Side by her mother, longtime Museum of Modern Art director of public information Elizabeth Shaw (née Roberts), and her mother's second husband, Samuel Shaw, an attorney. Affleck's maternal grandfather, O'Brien "Obie" Boldt, was a Democratic activist and professor of political science at the City University of New York. One of Affleck's maternal five times great-grandfathers was congressman Adam Rankin Alexander.
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. During Affleck's childhood, he worked as an auto mechanic, a carpenter, a bookie, an electrician, a bartender and a janitor at Harvard University. His parents divorced when he was eight due to his father's chronic alcoholism. Affleck was raised by his mother. When Affleck was 13, his father moved to Indio, California, entered rehab, became an addiction counselor and later reconnected with his adult sons.
Affleck had one older brother, Ben. He was childhood friends with actor Matt Damon; Damon has described Casey as "a little brother to me." As a child, he had numerous pets, including cats, snakes, guinea pigs and turtles. Affleck graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in June 1993. He was inspired by his high school drama teacher Gerry Speca. Affleck went to George Washington University for one year to study politics and later transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in physics, astronomy, and Western philosophy for two years, but never graduated. Affleck worked sporadically on television while finishing high school and attending college during the early 1990s.
Early work (1995–2006)
Affleck's first movie role was as a sociopathic teenager in Gus Van Sant's 1995 dark comedy To Die For. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone felt he "skillfully capture[s] the pang of adolescence among no-hopers." After co-starring with Halle Berry and Jim Belushi in the 1996 box office flop Race the Sun, the following year he appeared in two films featuring his brother Ben: Chasing Amy and Good Will Hunting.
Affleck's next few films, the underground movie Desert Blue (1998) with Kate Hudson, the black comedy Drowning Mona (1999) with Bette Midler, Jamie Lee Curtis, Neve Campbell, and Danny DeVito, and the 2001 horror movie Soul Survivors (co-starring Luke Wilson) were all critical as well as commercial failures.
In 2001, Affleck became part of an ensemble cast in the remake of the Rat Pack movie Ocean's Eleven, directed by Steven Soderbergh. Supporting the star leads, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, Affleck played Virgil Malloy, one of the pair of Mormon brothers who join the team. Affleck reprised this character in two sequels, Ocean's Twelve (2004) and Ocean's Thirteen (2007). In the third installment of the trilogy, several scenes are set in Mexico and he has extended dialogue in Spanish. Affleck lived in Mexico as a child and speaks Spanish.
Affleck co-wrote the screenplay for the 2002 film Gerry with Gus Van Sant and Matt Damon. The film, about two men who get lost while hiking in the desert, received mixed reviews; after premiering at the Sundance film festival, it got only a limited release in the United States in 2003. In 2006, Affleck featured in Lonesome Jim and The Last Kiss, where he plays a friend of Zach Braff's character. He then made a cameo in the Joaquin Phoenix-directed video "Tired of Being Sorry" for Balthazar Getty's band Ringside.
In 2007, Affleck starred in the Western drama The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, playing Robert Ford opposite Brad Pitt's Jesse James. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times described his performance as a "revelation" which "manages to make the character seem dumb and the actor wily and smart." Similarly, Claudia Puig of USA Today declared him a "real revelation [who] perfectly inhabits the role" while Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly observed that "a revelatory Casey Affleck brings Ford to life with a mature sense of an underling's craven, fawning petulance." Todd McCarthy of Variety said Affleck made "an indelible impression as the insecure, physically unprepossessing weakling." For his performance, he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, a nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role - Motion Picture, and an Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.
Also in 2007, he starred in the Boston crime thriller Gone Baby Gone as the protagonist, Patrick Kenzie. Directed, produced, and co-written by Ben Affleck, the film was critically acclaimed and earned Casey further plaudits for his acting. The Boston Globe commented, "I'd never stopped to consider Casey Affleck as a movie star before, but under his big brother's tutelage, he blooms as a leading man of richly watchable savvy and intelligence." The New York magazine similarly praised Affleck's portrayal of the tough private detective and concluded, "Casey Affleck has never had a pedestal like the one his brother provides him, and he earns it. His Patrick is pale and raspy ... He's not physically imposing, but he reels off four-letter words so fast that it leaves his bigger and more dangerous opponents staring in disbelief." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said: "I’m not sure exactly when Casey Affleck became such a good actor ... Most actors want you to love them, but [he] doesn’t seem to know that, or maybe he doesn’t care."
In 2010 Affleck released his first major directorial effort, I'm Still Here, a mockumentary about the musical career of his friend and brother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix, who attempted to live a lifestyle of a rapper in one year. After much speculation, Affleck admitted shortly after the film's release that Phoenix's role was a "performance" rather than genuine behavior, stating that he "never intended to trick anybody", rather, the production was a work of "gonzo filmmaking" inspired by journalists such as Hunter S. Thompson.
Next, Affleck played a sociopath in the violent crime drama The Killer Inside Me (2010), a film adaptation of the 1952 novel of the same name. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised "a mesmeric, implosively powerful performance." Ty Burr of The Boston Globe said "the performance is very good — a little surprising, given the actor’s soft, high voice and slender bearing." Todd McCarthy of Variety said Affleck "proves a fine choice, his cracking voice and boyish look providing an intriguing contrast to the man’s rapacious ways." However, while describing him as " an exceedingly nuanced actor", Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times felt the character's "interior madness seems closed to Affleck ... He never finds the black heart that should send chills whenever his hand clenches into a fist, or the animal magnetism that would make plausible the women's willingness to stay despite the pain." Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times said" "Much of what makes the film so effective is the lead performance by Casey Affleck. [He] showcases his uncanny ability to project a person holding two thoughts in his head at once, as he often gives away nothing in his face to convey the firestorm obviously raging in his soul." A.O. Scott of The New York Times said the actor, "with his reedy voice and sneaky Boy Scout demeanor — Eddie Haskell on his way to strangle a puppy in the Cleavers’ back yard — turns out to be perfect for Lou Ford, and his performance is the most effective thing in “The Killer Inside Me."
In Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013), Affleck and Rooney Mara starred as outlaw lovers in 1970s-era Texas. Chuck Wilson of The Village Voice found Affleck "flat-out heartbreaking" while Mark Kermode of The Guardian said he was "perfect as the charismatic Bob." Pete Travers of Rolling Stone found him "vibrantly alive." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter noted that "one monologue he delivers to himself in a mirror is particularly striking." Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times remarked: "Affleck plays conflicted souls so very well. Just as his compromised detective in "Gone Baby Gone" had you in his corner, here you wish for a criminal's redemption."
He starred as a returned Iraq War veteran opposite Christian Bale in the drama Out of the Furnace (2013). Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said "Affleck, his eyes pools of pain, is outstanding." Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com described Affleck as "one of the best and most original actors in American film." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said: "Affleck, with his bantamweight frame, broken singsong voice and furtive gaze, often registers as simultaneously younger and older than he is, like someone who, having never made it fully through adolescence, is already edging into his dotage. He can come across as intensely vulnerable on screen, which nicely works for a broken man like Rodney." Scott Foundas of Variety said "Affleck has a lean, prowling intensity." Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post said: "Affleck delivers a searing portrayal of a young man who pushes himself to the punishing physical limit in search of both money and catharsis."
Affleck played the lead in John Hillcoat's heist thriller Triple 9 (2016), with Justin Chang of Variety remarking of his performance: "Affleck continues to cement his standing as one of the most persuasive leading men of his generation." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle said: "Affleck's mental radio is tuned to a station only he hears, and he arrests our attention. I wonder if any other screen actor has ever seemed so focused and so distracted at the same time. He thinks more than he says, and so we listen, trying to get the part he's leaving out."
In Disney's The Finest Hours, he played a taciturn engineer on board a sinking ship. David Sims of The Atlantic said he "gives the kind of measured, thought-out performance he's so eminently capable of, even if the film isn’t complex enough to rise to his level ... It's hard to encapsulate exactly why Affleck is so good, but as with his other best performances (Gone Baby Gone, The Assassination of Jesse James), he animates an introverted character with subtle mental busywork whenever he's on the screen." Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter remarked: "With no backstory, Affleck manages to turn his man of few words into the movie's most compelling figure." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone described "a sharp, subtle" performance. Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune praised his "subtle and lived-in" Massachusetts dialect: "It's a shrewd performance, too, but that accent alone is enough to counter all the lousy, over-the-top Baaaahhhhston accents at the movies lately." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle said he "plays Sybert as an odd, reflective guy, very internal, not a glad-hander, not a natural leader of men, but rather as someone who just knows what to do. He radiates competence and intelligence, such that we believe that others would recognize these qualities and listen to him." Ty Burr of the Boston Globe said the part was "played by Casey Affleck in the Gary Cooper tradition: terse, modest, assured." Brian Truitt of USA Today found him "stoically engaging." but Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly said his "pulse barely rises above narcolepsy when he isn’t busy mumbling unintelligibly."
In Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester By the Sea, Chang of Variety praised a "bone-deep performance" while David Fear of Rolling Stone stated: "He's given impressive turns before — see Gone Baby Gone or The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford — but the way Affleck gradually shows you the man's bone-deep grief and emotional damage makes you believe that one of this generation's finest actors has simply been waiting to be coaxed out." Joshua Rothkopf of Time Out stated that Lonergan has "finally got a complex central performance that anchors his ambitions to cinema's all-time great brooders—to Brando, Pacino and the Heath Ledger of Brokeback Mountain." Joshua Rothkopf of Time Out said he "joins the ranks of giants in a tremendously moving portrait of grief." Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com praised a "breathtaking" performance while Drew McWeeny of HitFix said the "lead performance is, simply put, the model of what great film acting should look like."
Affleck married actress Summer Phoenix, his girlfriend of six years, on June 3, 2006 in Savannah, Georgia. The couple were introduced by her brother, Joaquin. They have two sons, Indiana August, who was born in May 2004 in Amsterdam, and Atticus, born in January 2008. As of 2006, he resides in Los Feliz, Los Angeles with his family. In March 2016, Affleck and Phoenix announced they were separating.
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