The Evolution Of Ben Affleck
After beginning his career with an appearance in The Dark End Of The Street in 1981 (for which we sadly couldn’t find a still), Affleck took a role in TV movie Hands Of A Stranger in 1987 (another rare gem we couldn’t get our mitts on) and Field Of Dreams in 1989 before landing on our screens with this TV movie.
It’s based on a Danielle Steele novel, which Affleck playing the 17-year-old son to Sarah (Kate Mulgrew), who throws her family into turmoil when she decides to leave for college without them.
Heartthrob Material? With a quiff like that? You’re kidding, right?
School Ties (1992)
Ben Affleck and mate Matt Damon make their first appearance together in this career-launcher, which also shunted Brendan Fraser and Chris O’Donnell into the limelight. Affleck plays an anti-Semitic schoolboy who makes Jewish teen David’s life a misery, along with friends Charlie, Jack, and the insanely-named Rip Van Kelt.
It’s even had its own Family Guy parody, with the famous “Go home Jew” phrase poached and turned into “Go home dog”.
Heartthrob Material? He’s looking a little hunkier, but the puppy fat’s still there.
Dazed And Confused (1993)
Having made a blink-miss cameo in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie as ‘Player 10’, Affleck appears in this cult flick which stars the movie milk teeth likes of Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich and Parker Posey.
Quentin Tarantino counts it as one of his greatest 10 films of all time (high praise indeed), while it’s frequently a high flyer on best high school movie lists. The plot, set in 1976, takes place during the last day of school at Lee High.
Heartthrob Material? The ‘70s isn’t really Affleck’s era, though the sideburns aren’t bad.
Glory Daze (1995)
Future TV stars Alyssa Milano and French Stewart star alongside Affleck and Sam Rockwell in this indie flick. Affleck is out of high school, and studying hard at UC Santa Cruz, where he shares a house called El Rancho with his fellow graduates. As life threatens to separate them, they worry how they'll cope without each other.
Matt Damon makes a cameo as an annoying ex-roomie, while Dazed And Confused co-star McConaughey also shows his face.
Heartthrob Material? Youch, he looks like a villain from Mad Max . Badness.
Actors and directors often come in collaborative pairs, and Affleck was to meet one of his long-time future collaborators during an audition for teen comedy Mallrats .
“I met Affleck through the Mallrats auditions,” says cult director Kevin Smith. “Affleck is one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet - a tall, good looking, smart guy who’s really fucking witty. There isn’t much difference between Ben and Matt then and Ben and Matt now, except now they have a lot more fucking cash.”
Heartthrob Material? That’s more like it – fresh-faced and vaguely stylish.
Chasing Amy (1997)
It’s a Kevin Smith project again, with Smith continuing his oddball View Askewniverse series. Inspired by a scene in Go Fish , the plot follows Affleck’s Holden, who falls for Alyssa. Only catch is she’s a lesbian, which causes all kinds of problems – not least with Holde’s homophobic way-in-the-closet friend Banky.
Some call it the first bromance, others just give it awards – the flick got two Independent Spirit Awards in 1998, while Joey Lauren Adams (Alyssa) was nominated for a Golden Globe.
Heartthrob Material? Alyssa may have liked him more if he didn’t have that stupid goatee.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Affleck and co-writer Matt Damon can thank pal Kevin Smith for getting this script to Dimension boss Harvey Weinstein. After Affleck gave Smith the script to take a look at, Smith was so impressed that he got straight onto the blower with Weinstein, telling him it’s “Oscar good”.
It was. The Boston-set tale of a troublesome prodigy was made for just $10m, grossed $225m and landed nine Oscar nominations. Robin Williams won the Best Supporting Actor gong, while Affleck and Damon got an award for their script.
Heartthrob Material? Eek, wasn’t ‘90s fashion horrible?
The high school years are well and truly buried, as Affleck takes on the role of Sheriff in this Dean Koontz tale directed by Joe Chappelle.
Two sisters (Rose McGowan and Joanna Going) discover that the sleepy town of Snowfield seems to have been abandoned by all of its residents. Alongside the Sherriff (Affleck), they investigate what happened. Stuffed with cliches, it at least features an appearance by Peter O'Toole.
Heartthrob Material? He looks kind of like a little boy lost in that outfit…
Big budget actioner starring Bruce Willis and Liv Tyler, Armageddon soared at the box office, dragging Affleck’s ascendant star into the stratosphere with it.
A daft but brawny sci-flick, it’s Michael Bay to a T – NASA discovers that in 18 days a massive asteroid will hit the Earth. The only solution is to send deep sea drillers into space to plant a bomb that will destroy the asteroid before it collides with our planet. The $561m gross revenue isn’t to be sniffed at.
Heartthrob Material? If you like your men filthy, he’s all yours.
Shakespeare In Love (1998)
Affleck attempts comedy and a British accent as Ned Alleyn, who participates in Shakespeare’s first production of Romeo And Juliet. Affleck was convinced to take the role by Harvey Weinstein, and saw it as an opportunity to spend more time with then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow.
The flick won numerous awards, including seven of those all-important Academy Awards, though Affleck’s part was too small to warrants a nomination.
Heartthrob Material? Gold diggers prick up thine ears!
Forces Of Nature (1999)
“The guy I play is bewildered and indecisive,” say Affleck of his role in this romcom. “It was a chance to lighten things up with an un-vain performance.”
He stars alongside Sandra Bullock, who has nothing but praise for her co-star: "Ben doesn't get embarrassed about showing something affects him. You can see it in his face, which I think women like. For men he's so big, but he can also be a total goof. He's not just a handsome guy sucking in his cheeks, there's a lot going on in his head."
Heartthrob Material? Bullock clearly saw something in him.
Kevin Smith comes a-knocking again in a disappointing religion-themed comedy that has Alanis Morissette as God. Affleck and Matt Damon play two angels who are banished from heaven for their bad behaviour.
Stranded in Wisconsin, they attempt to gain re-entry into Heaven by heading to a church in Red Bank – but if they succeed in their plans, their thwarting of the word of God will destroy the universe…
Heartthrob Material? Would you really be interested after finding out he’s basically a walking Ken doll?
Reindeer Games (2000)
"It wasn't my childhood fantasy to work with Truffaut or be in obscure films,” Affleck admits. “I like Midnight Run better than I like The Bicycle Thief . It was films like Die Hard and Blade Runner that made me want to be an actor.”
That’s heavily evident in Reindeer Games , which finds Affleck as a prison cellmate who gets caught up in nefarious schemes involving a casino robbery, kidnap and weaponry warfare. There's nothing subtle about it.
Heartthrob Material? Please send all prison pen-pal letters to the usual address…
Affleck re-teams with girlfriend Gwynie for Don Roos’ romantic drama, playing a man who falls for the wife of a man who died in a plane crash.
“I just wanted to play it honestly,” he says, “and not to worry about keeping some germ of likability. I think that would have been a betrayal, in a way, playing to the audience rather than the reality of the story. He is not a villain, he is just a guy whose focus is on the wrong things.”
Heartthrob Material? Fans of wife-stealers form an orderly queue, please.
Pearl Harbour (2001)
Affleck goes for the big budget stuff again, working with Armageddon director Michael Bay on an explosive re-enactment of the historic raid on Pearl Harbour.
Co-star Kate Beckinsale was happy to have Affleck as a crutch for her first blockbuster. “He was great and he really helped me a lot as it was my first big film,” she says. “He's just a great guy and very sweet. We all had a good time together, especially the girls.” Oo-la-la.
Heartthrob Material? Just try and resist him in that uniform.
Changing Lanes (2002)
More dramatic thriller stuff here, as Affleck pairs with Samuel L. Jackson as two drivers who collide when they are both on the way to court. When Affleck’s snide Gavin Banek attempts to get rid of Jackson’s Doyle Gipson by buying him off, the two engage in psychological warfare. It all quickly escalates and spirals out of control.
Affleck reportedly wore a wetsuit under his costume to keep warm for filming of the movie's last scenes, as he spent hours under fire sprinklers.
Heartthrob Material? Arrogance is definitely a turn-on for some…
The Sum Of All Fears (2002)
After Harrison Ford’s turn as action hero Jack Ryan in Patriot Games and Clear And Present Danger , Affleck plays a younger version of the character.
"It was the studio’s [ decision ],” says director Phil Alden Robinson, “I think in a really smart decision, they said, 'Let's not try to get some pale imitation of Harrison.' Because he won't do as well as Harrison did. He did a great version of that Jack Ryan. Let's just re-invent the franchise."
Heartthrob Material? Everybody loves a hero, right? (Especially one who knows Morgan Freeman.)
Critically panned comic book adaptation, Affleck plays the titular Daredevil, a blind hero who is both an attorney and superhero who acquires the power of sonar-sense thanks to a radioactive accident.
There was talk of a sequel before the film opened, though now talk is turning to a reboot instead. Does Affleck wonder why they’d want to reboot him? “No, I don’t ask that question,” he laughs. “Honestly, I’ll get myself in trouble, so let’s just not.”
Heartthrob Material? Definitely a heroic heartthrob.
Ah, it’s the one that led to Affleck’s own self-imposed exile from movies and a torrent of ‘Ben bashing’. One of the most hated films ever made, he stars with then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez as Larry, a mobster who falls for apparent lesbian Ricki (JLo).
Affleck has a surprisingly positive spin on the backlash: “One of the things I liked about the train wreck of Gigli was that it kind of was evidenced to me that I was still taking risks, I was still trying to do those things. And, you know, risk-taking means that… you can fail.”
Heartthrob Material? Definitely not. That is all.
Philip K. Dick has been keeping sci-fi movies ticking over for decades, and with Paycheck , it was Affleck and director John Woo’s turn to bring the sci-fi master to the big screen once more. For Woo, it was a chance to pay homage to Hitchcock (we don’t see it ourselves). For Ben, it was a chance to work with Woo.
“This movie, you see the recurrence of themes that John has worked with throughout his career,” the actor says. “Friendship, betrayal, love, doves...”
Heartthrob Material? He’s looking in pretty good shape here.
Jersey Girl (2004)
“This movie is very similar to Chasing Amy in that at that point in your life, your central preoccupations are relationships, romance, and sex,” Affleck explains, “this movie is about trying to grow up and become a man from all of that.”
He’s back (briefly) with Jennifer Lopez, landing a salary of $10m despite all the Ben bashing, playing a man who’s just lost his wife.
Heartthrob Material? A hunk with a soft touch, thissun.
Surviving Christmas (2004)
“It was very hard to convince people that I could do this. You know, you have people who put actors in certain categories,” says Affleck, who by now is better-known for his action flicks. Somehow, he managed to bag the role.
“It’s family, really. This is more a movie about family,” the actor says. “Christmas just represents that time when families get together and start kind of making each other crazy. It’s very funny.”
Heartthrob Material? There's nothing sexier than someone who can make you laugh, right?
Man About Town (2006)
Director Mike Binder was a pivotal figure in backing up Affleck when the Ben bashing was at its peak – and even wrote his role in this STV dramedy for the Boston native. “Ben wasn't likeable in the role but I thought Ben was really good,” he says. “When I wrote it, I always saw him.”
So any chance Ben can turn it all around? “I don't know how it's going to happen for Ben,” a positive Binder said at the time. “I think he's a really talented guy and I do think he's going to have a comeback.”
Heartthrob Material? One for all the bad boy lovers.
Clerks II (2006)
Ring, riiiing. Kevin Smith’s back on the blower, telling Affleck that he’s about to starting shooting his new flick – and Affleck has to be in it. It amounts to little more than a cameo, though.
“I tried to give Ben a bigger speaking part. I called him up, I said, ‘Dude, we're going into Clerks II , man. You want to be a part of it?’ And he said, ‘After the last two years, I'm trying to stay out of movies. I'm trying to lay low and rebuild and whatnot. I'm getting ready to make my movie.’”
Heartthrob Material? More facial hair… Whatever floats your boat.
Affleck’s back on top in this biopic of George Reeves, who was the star of TV series The Adventures Of Superman.
Playing that iconic figure turned into something of a tragedy for George Reeves, which is exactly what drew Affleck to the role. “That very tragedy and kind of paradox in the sense that he got the thing that he wished for and ultimately it was very destructive, is part of what makes the story so good,” he says, “and part of what makes the character so good.”
Heartthrob Material? Tortured hero anyone?
Smokin Aces (2006)
“The whole week that I shot, I smoked five packs a day,” says a queasy-looking Affleck. “By the time the movie was over, I was so sick of smoking, I just didn't want to do it anymore, and I quit. I have this celluloid record of the last time I smoked.”
Taking that title to its literal extreme, there, Affleck pitches up in Joe Carnahan’s ballistic action flick as bounty hunter Jack Dupree, a world-weary bail bondsman. He didn’t show up for the film’s daft sequel.
Heartthrob Material? Depends how much you like the smell of ciggies.
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
After all the bashing, Affleck retreats behind the camera for his directorial debut. He casts his brother Casey in the lead, something he calls “a pleasure. It was like directing anybody else, except I could fantasise that if it came down to it I could throttle him.”
Following two private investigators who are desperately searching for a missing four-year-old girl, the flick received much critical praise, and established Affleck as a director to keep an eye on.
Heartthrob Material? Bit tricky, he’s not actually on-screen for this one…
Hes Just Not That Into You (2009)
“I like to take full credit for Ben being involved,” laughs Jennifer Aniston, who plays Affleck’s girlfriend in the book-to-screen movie. “No, I just love him, I think he’s great, he just seemed really right for the part. I just threw the name out to see if anybody caught it.”
Affleck’s segment in the film sees him refusing to get married because he doesn’t believe in it – so he’s promptly dumped by girlfriend Beth. But will they eventually find a happily ever after?
Heartthrob Material? He's probably the hunkiest in the cast, to be fair.
State Of Play (2009)
“It was a relief to not have to worry about everything all the time,” Affleck says of starring in but not directing this crime flick. “Something can go wrong, things can take a long time, and there can be confusion about the scene.
“I was just able to remind myself that it wasn’t my responsibility. Directing a movie was really instructive for me. I think I learned a lot about writing, and a lot about acting, and I learned how all the pieces fit together from the inside. That was really valuable. It was a good thing.”
Heartthrob Material? Slick suit – that’d be a yes.
Affleck turns his hand to comedy once more, turning up in Mike Judge’s tickler as a bartender pothead. The class A comedy also stars class acts Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig and Mila Kunis.
“Mike has a very particular sensibility so it’s not just straight down the middle,” Affleck says. “That’s one of the things I like about it. I think it’s really funny.”
Heartthrob Material? Date at your peril.
The Town (2010)
Affleck returns to directing duties, but challenges himself to also take on the lead role. “That’s a slightly daunting prospect, but we’ll see,” he admits.
The flick opened in the US last week and went straight to number one, taking an impressive $23m at the box office. “Rather than a heist movie it’s very realistic,” Affleck says. “You see how the guys really operate and what they really do. It’s about their lives, the connection to one another. It’s unusual and kind of complicated for a movie that has a conventional genre at its root.”
Heartthrob Material? Rebecca Hall certainly seems to dig him.