Personal detailsName: Ben Affleck
Born: 15 August 1972 (Age: 41)
Where: Berkeley, California, USA
Height: 6' 2"
Awards: Won 1 Oscar and 1 Golden Globe
All about this star
Ben Affleck's story is, without doubt, one of the great rags-to-riches tales in recent cinema history. Along with his childhood buddy, Matt Damon, he was a struggling actor, in the final stages of being consigned to Hollywood's dustpile. But together they fought back. Bucking the system, they wrote their own screenplay, attracted their own finance, and produced and starred in their own movie. Within a year, Good Will Hunting had taken off, in 1998 earning them both an Oscar and propelling them into major roles in such mega-blockbusters as Armageddon and Saving Private Ryan. Or so the story went. In fact, the saga stretched back a good twenty years. What really made Affleck's tale fascinating came later when, having squired pop star actress Jennifer Lopez and hit the absolute heights of tabloid fame, his offscreen life took centre stage, his career collapsed in ruins, and a second struggle for success was necessary. And this time he was on his own. This was why the awards and critical plaudits drawn by his performance in 2006's Hollywoodland were so very satisfying. He'd made it to the top twice.
Benjamin Geza Affleck was born on the 15th of August, 1972, in Berkeley, California, the family very soon moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts, a rich area of Boston, near the prestigious Harvard college. He has one brother, Casey, also an actor. His father, Tim, was an actor and director who'd worked and partied with such luminaries as Dustin Hoffman, and joined the Theatre Company Of Boston. His mother, Chris, was a schoolteacher, and would be the dominant parental figure in his life (she was his guest when he picked up his Oscar). But it was his dad's influence and connections that got him started in TV, VERY early in his life. He appeared in ads for Burger King before hitting double-figures and, by 12, had appeared as CT Granville in the cute and educative mini-series The Voyage Of The Mimi. At the age of 12 though, he suffered an emotional setback with the divorce of his parents. Tim had "a severe, chronic problem with alcoholism" which eventually broke the couple up. He left for the Recovery Centre in Palm Springs, got back on his feet, and now works counselling others in Rehab.
Young Ben's dreams of an acting career did not depart with his father, for he had begun a far more crucial and inspiring relationship some years before. At age 8, he'd met and befriended one Matt Damon, a boy two years older than himself. Together they attended Little League, played Dungeons & Dragons and video baseball, and on Saturdays watched Godzilla and kung-fu double-bills. And they acted. While at the Rindge And Latin High School, they were members of a group who won a drama award from the Boston Globe, but their ambitions stretched far further than this. They even started a joint account for when they'd have to travel to auditions.
It must be assumed that much of the ambition, drive and organisation stemmed from Damon. Affleck already had his foot in the Hollywood door - he'd appeared in Wanted: The Perfect Guy alongside Madeline Kahn, and Hands Of A Stranger with Armand Assante, both TV movies, as well as The Second Voyage Of The Mimi - but it was Damon who possessed the work-ethic. Once he won entry to Harvard, Affleck's school career began to slide. His high B average did not gain him a place at Harvard with his buddy, and instead he enrolled at the University of Vermont. He lasted one semester, deciding to eschew his studies in favour a more practical approach to job-winning. He wanted to take off for Hollywood and his mother OKed this - as long as he stayed with friends of hers in Echo Park, and continued his studies at the Occidental College at nearby Eagle Rock. He submitted to her demands and took up Middle Eastern Studies (for a year, at least).
Throughout the early Nineties, it really didn't go that well for Affleck. He appeared in Danielle Steele's Daddy, starring Patrick Duffy, and scored an uncredited role as Basketball Player #13 in the film version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Then there was a TV series, Against The Grain, and A Body To Die For: The Aaron Henry Story where he played the title role of a football star engaging in steroid abuse. It appeared that he had the looks for decent leading roles, but just couldn't break out of the dodgy TV ghetto. So, instead of endlessly cold-calling Steven Spielberg's office, hungry for glamour parts, he slipped into the world of independent cinema.
First, in 1992, there had been School Ties. By now, Damon had left Harvard and joined his friend Affleck in LA and, despite debuting alongside Julia Roberts in Mystic Pizza, he too was finding the going tough. Having both appeared as extras in Field Of Dreams, they here featured with Brendan Fraser and Chris O'Donnell in a tale of campus anti-semitism in Fifties America. They'd all become stars eventually - but not yet. With no offers coming in, Affleck took a part in Richard Linklater's independent classic Dazed And Confused, a brilliant comic study of Seventies teens, where the debuting Matthew McConaughey stole the show as an unashamed serial seducer of schoolgirls ("I keep gettin' older, they just stay the same. Yes, they do").