Highlights from Ben Affleck’s career, including writing, producing, acting and directing.
Affleck’s first appearance in a Kevin Smith comedy kicked off a long-standing collaboration with the director. Affleck says Smith taught him that filmmaking “can be a real collaborative experience, that people can be friends, it doesn’t have to be fraught or tense, but that in fact relaxation serves you most well.”
GOOD WILL HUNTING
Affleck and childhood friend Matt Damon co-wrote “Good Will Hunting” with an eye toward co-directing the film as well. “That turned out to be too ambitious,” he admits. “And once we got Gus [Van Sant] it was a moot point, anyway.” The film won two Oscars, for star Robin Williams and for Affleck and Damon’s screenplay.
Affleck played a hot-dogging asteroid driller in Michael Bay’s special effects extravaganza, which was a bomb with critics but earned half a billion dollars.
Affleck re-teamed with Bay to play an Air Corps pilot in this World War II spectacle, which took a critical drubbing. But The Post’s Stephen Hunter was a fan, writing of Affleck and co-star Josh Hartnett: “Both look good in the ’40s flyboy duds, with leather A-2 jackets over khakis and Ray-Ban aviators and a cap scrunched nearly flat under earphones.”
Affleck starred opposite Samuel L. Jackson in this tense thriller about the aftermath of a minor car accident in New York City. Affleck says director Roger Michell “taught me to cast extras with as much attention as you cast a lead in a movie.”
Affleck said at the time that he had wanted to play the Marvel Comics superhero since he was a kid. He received mixed reviews for the film, with one reviewer noting that Affleck, “a handsome fellow with possibly the most inert film presence of any actor since Sonny Tufts, looks ridiculous in Daredevil’s red leather pantsuit and horned mask.”
It was Affleck’s relationship with “Gigli” co-star Jennifer Lopez that inspired him to take a break from acting. The paparazzi’s obsession with the couple, along with scathing reviews for the film, “became a negative feedback loop in my life.” Of “Gigli,” he says, it “was just an average bad movie, nothing particularly exceptional about it, there were 20 movies that year that lost more money and missed just as badly.”
Affleck played “Adventures of Superman” actor George Reeves in this biopic, which earned the actor rave reviews and an award at the Venice Film Festival.
GONE BABY GONE
Affleck made his directorial debut with “Gone Baby Gone,” an adaptation of a Dennis Lehane novel that earned raves for Affleck’s sense of atmosphere, pacing and work with actors, including his younger brother Casey. Taking time off acting to direct, he says, “saved my creative heart.”
Affleck’s second directorial outing was set in his home town of Boston (like “Gone Baby Gone”). But the canvas of this crime thriller was larger and involved more intricate action scenes. Affleck’s co-star in the film, Jeremy Renner, was nominated for his supporting performance.
Affleck came to direct “Argo” when the “rarest of all things” occurred, according to the actor: “Somebody handed me a great script.” Once he read it, he immediately phoned the film’s producers, George Clooney and Grant Heslov, “and went on a 40-minute monologue about what I was going to do and why I was the right guy.” The film has already become an early contender for a best picture nomination come Oscar-time.
TO THE WONDER
Affleck will star in Terrence Malick’s romantic reverie “To the Wonder” next year. Of Malick’s notoriously free-form directing style, Affleck says: “It’s crazy-making at times, but even when it’s frustrating it’s valuable, just for the fact that you’re breaking your own rules. . . . I’m so obsessed with keeping the line of the narrative taut, for me to just rip that out, it’s terrifying.”