Birthdate: August 15, 1972
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, USA
Ben Affleck (birthname: Benjamin Géza Affleck) belongs to an elite group of major movie stars who have also developed significant careers as directors and producers, but—in Affleck’s case—a multi-Oscar pedigree as a writer as well. He’s one of the few figures in Hollywood history whose profile is mainly as an actor, but who has won two Oscars not as an actor but as a screenwriter (1997’s Good Will Hunting) and producer (2012’s Argo).
Affleck’s first notable screen credit was in the Dick Wolf-written school drama, School Ties (1992), starring Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, and Chris O’Donnell, followed by his first short film as director, I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney (1993). Affleck next acted under the direction of two emerging major American indie filmmakers—Richard Linklater (in 1993’s Dazed and Confused) and Kevin Smith (1995’s Mallrats and 1997’s Chasing Amy)—starting an ongoing filmmaking relationship with Smith.
Affleck also worked with indie director Mark Pellington (in his feature debut, Going All the Way in 1997), and then reached his first career milestone with another major American indie filmmaker—Gus Van Sant, for Good Will Hunting (1997)—winning the Oscar for best screenplay with childhood friend, co-star, and co-writing partner, Damon. Affleck followed this with another critical, commercial, and Oscar triumph (winner of four statuettes), Shakespeare in Love (1998), co-written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard and directed by John Madden, co-starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Ralph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, and Judi Dench, and grossing a stunning $289.3 million globally.
At this point, after appearing in a supporting role in the Dean Koontz-written sci-fi horror movie, Phantoms (1998), with Peter O’Toole, Rose McGowan, and Liev Schreiber, Ben Affleck’s career shifted into starring roles in bigger-budget movies and as one of the key stars affiliated with Miramax Films, starting with the epic thriller, Armageddon (1998), in which he co-starred with Bruce Willis, Liv Tyler, Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Buscemi, Will Patton, and Michael Clarke Duncan, and grossing four times ($553.7 million) its costs ($140 million).
Affleck’s next co-starring role with pal Matt Damon was his second movie with filmmaker Kevin Smith, Dogma (1999), with Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, and Chris Rock, earning over four times $10 million costs with a $44 million return. Affleck starred with Sandra Bullock in the Bronwen Hughes-directed rom-com, Forces of Nature (1999), earning a modest $94 million, and then joined the sprawling ensemble of the comedy, 200 Cigarettes (1999), with brother Casey, Dave Chappelle, Courtney Love, Jay Mohr, Martha Plimpton, Christina Ricci, and Paul Rudd, and which grossed a poor $6.9 million for Paramount.
Ben Affleck rejoined Gwyneth Paltrow for Don Roos’ rom-com, Bounce (2000), earning Miramax a mild return of $53 million, followed by Miramax’s failed big-budget thriller and one of director John Frankenheimer’s final movies, Reindeer Games (2000), bombing with a $32 million return. Affleck played a supporting role in writer-director Ben Younger’s successful drama, Boiler Room (2000), with Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, and Nia Long, earning four times the costs with a $28 million return.
Affleck played himself and a number of various roles in his next Kevin Smith project, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), with Rock, Will Ferrell, Jason Mewes, Smith, and Shannon Elizabeth, earning a mediocre $33.8 million return. In another ensemble turn, Affleck worked with writer-director-star Thornton in the comedy-drama, Daddy & Them (2001), with Laura Dern, Diane Ladd, Kelly Preston, and Jamie Lee Curtis, but delayed its release until it premiered at the Newport Film Festival.
Ben Affleck started the next phase of his career as the star of the mega-production, Pearl Harbor (2001), directed by Michael Bay and co-starring Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tom Sizemore, Alec Baldwin, and Jon Voight, grossing $450 million globally and earning four Oscar nominations. Writer-director Pete Jones’s low-budget drama, Stolen Summer (2002), was Affleck’s first project as producer only, with co-producers Matt Damon and Chris Moore.
Affleck resumed his starring roles opposite Samuel L. Jackson in the Roger Michell-directed drama for Paramount Pictures, Changing Lanes (2002), followed by a major hit with the Tom Clancy thriller, The Sum of All Fears (2002), directed by Phil Alden Robinson and co-starring Morgan Freeman, earning a strong $194 million worldwide.
Affleck was an executive producer on his next three projects, The Third Wheel (2002), Speakeasy (2002), and The Battle of Shaker Heights (2003). At this time, Ben Affleck took on the superhero genre with co-star (and future wife) Jennifer Garner in writer-director Mark Steven Johnson’s MCU hit ($179.2 million global), Daredevil (2003), with Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Jon Favreau.
Affleck had his most notorious failure opposite his other future wife, Jennifer Lopez, in writer-producer-director Martin Brest’s rom-com, Gigli (2003), both critically lambasted and mocked and a stunning financial disaster for Sony, with $7 million return on a $75.6 budget. Affleck starred under renowned Hong Kong master John Woo’s direction in the Philip K. Dick adaptation, Paycheck (2003), with Aaron Eckhart, Uma Thurman, and Paul Giamatti.
Another bomb ($15 million) for star Affleck was the comedy, Surviving Christmas (2004), with James Gandolfini and Christina Applegate, followed by Affleck’s reunion with filmmaker Kevin Smith for Jersey Girl (2004), with Liv Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and George Carlin.
The Project Greenlight endeavor launched by Affleck and Damon to seed indie films yielded the failed horror comedy, Feast (2005), followed by the ‘50s-era Hollywoodland (2006), directed by Sopranos director Allen Coulter and co-starring Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, and Bob Hoskins, and earning Affleck several acting awards including Best Actor at the Venice film festival. Affleck landed a solid hit ($57 million) next with writer-director Joe Carnahan’s crime comedy, Smokin’ Aces (2006), with Andy Garcia, Alicia Keys, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, and Ryan Reynolds.
Ben Affleck’s next major career move was expanding into writing and directing, first with his stately adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s crime novel, Gone Baby Gone (2007), with Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan, and Titus Welliver. Affleck followed this with another success as a cast member in Warner Bros. rom-com hit ($179 million), He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), co-starring Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Scarlett Johansson, Kris Kristofferson, and Justin Long.
Affleck was next paired with Russell Crowe in the Universal/Working Title/StudioCanal thriller, State of Play (2009), with Rachel McAdams and Helen Mirren, followed by an ensemble role in writer-director Mike Judge’s underrated comedy, Extract (2009), with Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, J.K. Simmons, and Clifton Collins Jr.
As writer-director-star, Ben Affleck scored a major hit ($154 million globally on a $37 million budget) with the Boston crime drama, The Town (2010), co-starring Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively, Jeremy Renner (nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar), Pete Postlethwaite, and Chris Cooper. Affleck joined writer-producer-director John Wells for the drama, The Company Men (2010), with Cooper, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Craig T. Nelson, which premiered at the Sundance film festival.
Affleck’s possible career peak as actor-filmmaker was the smash hit Oscar-winning (picture, screenplay, editing) historical drama, Argo (2012), with Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman, grossing a robust $232.3 million worldwide. Affleck appeared under filmmaker Terrence Malick’s direction in To the Wonder (2012), which premiered at the Venice film festival and featured Olga Kurylenko, McAdams, and Javier Bardem, and then returned to more familiar crime drama mode in Fox’s Runner Runner (2013), with Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton.
Ben Affleck starred in one of his biggest hits ($369.3 million on a $61 million budget) with the Gillian Flynn adaptation, Gone Girl (2014), directed by David Fincher and co-starring Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, and Carrie Coon. An even bigger hit ($873.6 million) starring Affleck (as Bruce Wayne/Batman) in the Zack Snyder-directed DC Comics adventure, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), with Henry Cavill (as Superman), Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, and Gal Gadot.
Affleck’s streak of hits continued with the $155-million-grossing crime thriller, The Accountant (2016), with Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, and John Lithgow. Ben Affleck’s second adaptation (as writer-producer-director) of a Dennis Lehane novel, Live by Night (2016), wasn’t as successful, co-starring Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, and Chris Cooper.
Ben Affleck resumed his portrayal of Batman with filmmaker Zack Snyder (and as an executive producer) in, first, Justice League (2017), then Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021), and then under Andy Muschietti’s direction in the DC Studios superhero movie, The Flash (2023), starring Ezra Miller, Michael Shannon, Sasha Calle, and Michael Keaton.
Affleck reunited with director Gavin O’Connor for the basketball drama, The Way Back (2020), which had a brief theatrical run before being pulled from screens by Warner Bros. during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. In one of his few period movies, Affleck delivered a flashy performance in the Ridley Scott-directed medieval drama, The Last Duel (2021), which Affleck co-wrote and co-starred with Matt Damon, and featured Adam Driver and Jodie Comer, and premiered at the Venice film festival.
Affleck rejoined Damon for the true-life sports drama, Air (2023), which marked his fifth feature as director, and co-starring with Jason Bateman, Marlon Wayans, Chris Tucker, Viola Davis, and Chris Messina. Affleck’s first project as an actor with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez was the sci-fi movie, Hypnotic (2023), with Alice Braga, Jackie Earle Haley, and William Fichtner, premiering at the South by Southwest film festival.
Ben Affleck was born in Berkeley, California, and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by parents Chris (school teacher) and Tim Affleck (social worker). Affleck has one brother, actor Casey Affleck. His parents divorced when was 11 years old; his alcoholic father ended up homeless in Cambridge, and later (when Affleck was 16) entered a rehab facility in Indio, California, in Southern California. Affleck made friends with future fellow movie superstar Matt Damon at age 8. After studying (and performing in many stage productions) and graduating from Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school.
Affleck attended the University of Vermont for a few months, studying Spanish, but dropped out after a basketball injury; he then moved to Los Angeles at age 18 and attended Occidental College for 18 months, majoring in Middle Eastern affairs. Affleck was in an on-and-off relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow from the period of 1997 to 2000. Affleck was married to actor Jennifer Garner from 2005 to 2018; the couple has three children, Violet, Samuel, and Seraphina Rose. Four years after his divorce from Garner, Affleck renewed his relationship with singer-actor Jennifer Lopez and married her in 2022. Affleck’s height is 6’ 2¼”. Affleck’s estimated net worth is $150 million.
World Citizen: Ben Affleck has staked out a strong, public position as a global humanitarian with his support for the Eastern Congo Initiative, the USO, Feeding America, Midnight Mission in Los Angeles, and the A-T Children’s Project.
Political Man: Affleck has been active in political activities, not only with the Democratic Party but for global climate change reforms, with the Center for American Progress, and in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Alcoholism: Ben Affleck has publicly struggled with alcoholism, speaking about it in detail in 1998, and then checking in for treatment in 2017; he has urged other celebrities to not talk in detail to the press about their personal addictions.
Poker Player: The 2004 California State Poker Championship was won by Affleck, earning $356,000 and sending him to the World Poker Tour finals. He was also one of a handful of movie stars (including Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire) to participate in high-stakes poker matches organized by the notorious Molly Bloom, later dramatized in the movie, Molly’s Game (2017), starring Jessica Chastain.