Ben Affleck doesn’t turn 50 until next year, but he’s already experienced enough ups and downs in Hollywood to last at least three lifetimes. After scoring the first major role of his career in Richard Linklater’s classic teen comedy Dazed and Confused in 1993, the young actor struck up a friendship with rising filmmaker Kevin Smith, starring in Mallrats and Chasing Amy.
He was then rocketed to the upper echelons of the A-list at just 25 when he picked up an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay after co-writing Good Will Hunting alongside childhood friend Matt Damon. From there, he was suddenly one of the most in-demand actors in the business, becoming a major movie star thanks to appearing in big budget projects like Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, The Sum of All Fears and Daredevil, all of which made huge money at the box office despite less than enthusiastic reviews.
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By the early 2000s, though, his career was on the wane as he became tabloid fodder, while the quality of his work nosedived through a series of duds including Paycheck, Surviving Christmas, Jersey Girl and the infamous Gigli. In a recent interview, Affleck explained that the public perception surrounding him was so negative at the time that he faced an even bigger challenge turning everything around for himself.
“I sort of had to make it in the business twice, because I became so cold and so not cool and so out of it that I had to totally reinvent my career. And it was harder the second time because before I was just starting at the start line, but now I had to start a mile further back because people didn’t have no perception of me, but instead had a negative one fostered by a really reckless and irresponsible tabloid press that would just write things that weren’t true.”
In one of the greatest cinematic comebacks of the modern era, Ben Affleck not only reinvented himself as a critically acclaimed filmmaker by directing Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Best Picture winner Argo, but he also went and got cast as Batman for good measure. He’s arguably a bigger star and much better actor now than he’s ever been, and having overcome a battle with alcoholism, too, he’s definitely earned his place at the industry’s top table.