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Ben Affleck (born Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt;[1] August 15, 1972) is an American film screenwriter, director, actor, and older brother of Casey Affleck. He became known in the mid 1990s, after his involvement in the film Mallrats, and has since become an Academy Award winner for his screenplay in Good Will Hunting in 1997. He has established himself as a Hollywood leading man, having starred in several big budget films, such as Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Changing Lanes, The Sum of All Fears and Daredevil.

After high profile relationships with actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998, his relationship with actress/singer Jennifer Lopez attracted worldwide media attention in which Affleck and Lopez were dubbed as "Bennifer." Following their breakup in 2004, he began dating Jennifer Garner. The two married in June 2005 and welcomed their first child, Violet Anne Affleck, in December 2005. Affleck has been actively involved in politics, along with a non-profit organization called the A-T Children's Project. Along with childhood friend, Matt Damon, they founded the production company LivePlanet.

Early lifeEdit

Affleck was born in Berkeley, California, the son of Christine Ann "Chris" (née Boldt), a school district employee and teacher, and Timothy Affleck, a drug counselor, social worker, janitor, auto mechanic, bar tender, and former actor with the Theater Company of Boston. Affleck's mother attended Harvard University and currently teaches in Cambridge Public Schools. His younger brother is actor Casey Affleck. Affleck has Irish and Scottish ancestry. His family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts when he was very young and his parents divorced in 1984. At the age of eight, Affleck met ten-year-old Matt Damon, who lived two blocks away. The two would later attend Cambridge Rindge and Latin School together, although they were in different year groups. Affleck attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, as well as the University of Vermont.

CareerEdit

Affleck worked as a child actor, appearing on the PBS kids' series The Voyage of the Mimi as well as in several made-for-television movies. Throughout the 1990s, he had a role in Lifestories: Families in Crisis as a steroid abusing athlete, as well as in several notable films, including 1992's School Ties (with Matt Damon and Brendan Fraser), 1993's Dazed and Confused, 1995's Mallrats and 1997's Chasing Amy. Mallrats and Amy marked the beginning of his collaboration with writer/director Kevin Smith. He has appeared in every film Kevin Smith has made with the exception of Smith's first film Clerks.

Affleck had a one-line speaking role as a high school basketball player in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. He came to national attention working with childhood friend, Matt Damon, in Good Will Hunting in 1997, for which they shared credit and received the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Along with Damon and producers Chris Moore and Sean Bailey, Affleck founded the production company LivePlanet, through which the four created the documentary series Project Greenlight, as well as the failed mystery-hybrid series Push, Nevada amongst other projects. Project Greenlight was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program in 2002, 2004 and 2005.

Following Good Will Hunting, Affleck had starring roles in many successful films, including Armageddon, Forces of Nature, Pearl Harbor, Changing Lanes, The Sum of All Fears and Daredevil, establishing himself as a Hollywood leading man throughout the early 2000s. After the release, however, of several critically panned box office flops, including Gigli and Surviving Christmas, Affleck's career waned considerably. He did not appear in any films until 2006 when he appeared in Clerks II. In addition to being a fan of the Daredevil comics (Frank Miller's run specifically), he wrote the introduction to the trade paperback Daredevil: Guardian Devil which reprints Daredevil (Volume 2) #1 – 8 (written by Kevin Smith).

Affleck made what could be considered a comeback with the September 2006 release of the critically acclaimed George Reeves noir biopic Hollywoodland, directed by HBO TV-series veteran Allen Coulter. His performance was impressive enough that he was awarded the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival and won the Supporting Actor of the Year award at the Hollywood Film Festival, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. Affleck made his directorial debut, which starred brother Casey, with Gone, Baby, Gone,, for which he also co-wrote the screenplay, about two Boston area detectives investigating a little girl's kidnapping and how it affects their lives. Based on the book by Dennis Lehane, it opened to rave reviews in October 2007.

Personal lifeEdit

Affleck had a high-profile romance with actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998, following her breakup with actor Brad Pitt. In 2002, he began dating actress/singer Jennifer Lopez, whom he had met prior to filming Gigli. The same year, his engagement to Lopez was announced, and the relationship between the two received much attention from the entertainment media, who dubbed the couple "Bennifer." Despite a wedding planned for September 14, the couple broke up in 2004, both blaming the media attention - including an alleged incident in which Affleck partied with Christian Slater and some lap dancers in Vancouver. The negative publicity and media attention carried over to the 2003 film Gigli, which also was a box office failure.

He subsequently began seeing his Daredevil co-star, actress Jennifer Garner, and the two were engaged after nine months of dating. In May 2005, it was announced that Garner was pregnant and the couple were married on June 29, 2005 on the Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos. Garner gave birth to a daughter, Violet Anne Affleck, on December 1, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. Affleck and Garner are currently expecting their second child. He has a holiday home in Savannah, Georgia, and the family was in Cambridge for the summer in 2006 while Affleck was directing Gone, Baby, Gone.

Affleck appeared in Jimmy Kimmel's video 'I'm Fucking Ben Affleck'; a response to Kimmel girlfriend, Sarah Silverman's, video 'I'm Fucking Matt Damon'. 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 many more.

An avid poker player, Affleck has regularly entered local events. He has been tutored by poker professionals Amir Vahedi and Annie Duke, and won the California State Poker Championship on June 20, 2004, taking home the first prize of $356,000, which qualified him for the 2004 World Poker Tour final tournament. He is a fan of the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots and Boston Celtics.

Affleck got his first tattoo when he was sixteen. He now has about a half-dozen including a tattoo of a dolphin that was used to cover up a tattoo of his high school sweetheart's name. The tattoos have been done by numerous artists including Paul Timman. He quit smoking after starring in the 2007 film Smokin' Aces, in which he was required to smoke heavily, and lost his taste for it after a week of chain-smoking for his role.[2]

Affleck's support of the non-profit organization, the A-T Children's Project, began after meeting Joe Kindregan while filming Forces of Nature. Kindregan, who was then 9 years old, has the rare disease called ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T). Affleck attends benefits and spoke to Congress to advocate for the A-T Children's Project. 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. In 2007, Affleck was the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony of Falls Church High School in Fairfax, Virginia, from which Kindregan was graduating.

Political activismEdit

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." During the final week of the race, Affleck spoke on behalf of Gore in California, Florida, and Pennsylvania. During a stop in Pittsburgh, he — along with Helen Hunt, Martin Sheen, Rob Reiner and other actors — spent an hour at a phone bank calling registered Democrats. "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."

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.

On November 6, 2000, the final day of the campaign, he 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. The Gore campaign's last event, a final effort to energize South Beach voters, did not end until about 1:00 a.m., 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 a.m. 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".

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". The Smoking Gun, however, later discovered that he had not voted that day.

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".

In 2004, Affleck actively campaigned for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. During the first day of the Democratic Convention, he was featured on Larry King Live with Tucker Carlson and Al Sharpton. 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 political figures Ronald Reagan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, both came from the entertainment business, although both were members of the Republican Party. During the campaign, Affleck remained diplomatic, saying, "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."

He appeared in a print ad with his openly gay cousin, Jason, in support of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Though usually associated with the Democratic Party, Affleck dissents with the party line on regulation of firearms and does not support increased gun control.

On June 23, 2008, he appeared in an ABC News exclusive exploring the humanitarian crisis in Congo. Affleck travelled to Congo and interviewed refugees, warlords, and members of parliament. "I think the more painful something is, the more you want to distance yourself from it," Affleck 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 circumstance than you are, but that are kind of dealing with [those circumstances] in a pretty brave and enduring way."

FilmographyEdit

Year Film Role Other notes
1984 The Voyage of the Mimi C.T. Granville
1992 School Ties Chesty Smith
1993 Dazed and Confused Fred O'Bannion
1995 Mallrats Shannon Hamilton
1996 Glory Daze Jack
1997 Good Will Hunting Chuckie Sullivan Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay
Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
Chasing Amy Holden McNeil
Going All the Way Tom "Gunner" Casselman
1998 Shakespeare in Love Ned Alleyn Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Armageddon A.J. Frost
Phantoms Sheriff Bryce Hammond
1999 Dogma Bartleby
Forces of Nature Ben Holmes
200 Cigarettes Bartender
2000 Bounce Buddy Amaral
Reindeer Games Rudy Duncan
Boiler Room Jim Young
2001 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Holden McNeil/Himself
Pearl Harbor Army Air Corps Pilot Rafe McCawley
2002 The Sum of All Fears Jack Ryan
Changing Lanes Gavin Banek
2003 Paycheck Michael Jennings
Gigli Larry Gigli
Daredevil Matt Murdock/Daredevil
2004 Surviving Christmas Drew Latham
Jersey Girl Ollie Trinke
2005 Elektra Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Scene cut)
2006 Clerks II Gawking Guy
Hollywoodland George Reeves Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup for Best Actor
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Man About Town Jack Giamoro
2007 Gone Baby Gone Director
Smokin' Aces Jack Dupree
2009 He's Just Not That Into You Neil awaiting release
State of Play Stephen Collins post-production
Extract TBA filming

ReferencesEdit

  1. He is listed as "Benjamin G. Affleckbold"; born on August 15, 1972 in Alameda County according to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. At Ancestry.com
  2. "Smokin' Aces convinces Affleck to quit cigarettes." AT Pictures.com.

Further readingEdit

  • Brashares, Ben. Ben Affleck. Aladdin Paperbacks Publishing Staff, 1999. ISBN 0689825471
  • Wellman, Sam. Ben Affleck. Facts on File, Inc., 1999. ISBN 0791053318
  • Wukovits, John F. Ben Affleck. Lucent Books, 2004. ISBN 1590183231

External linksEdit

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