Occupation: Actor, Screenwriter
Date of Birth: August 15, 1972
Place of Birth: Berkeley, Calif., USA
Sign: Sun in Leo, Moon in Scorpio
Relations: Father: Tim (social worker; former actor who supposedly "chased women" with Dustin Hoffman); mother: Chris (teacher); brother: Casey (actor); former companion: Gwyneth Paltrow (actress); best friend: Matt Damon
Education: Briefly attended classes at the University of Vermont and Occidental College
ALTHOUGH BEN AFFLECK was born in Berkeley, California, he considers himself more as a Boston boy, and with good reason: his family moved there when young Ben was just a toddler. Two blocks away, in a working-class section of Cambridge, resided a young boy named Matt Damon. A lifelong friendship – and one of the most legendary Hollywood success stories – ensued.
At age 8, Affleck landed his first major role, in a PBS series, The Voyage of Mimi. A Burger King commercial followed, as did the obligatory after-school special. By high school, Ben was known as "that actor kid from TV."
When Ben was 12, his alcoholic father abandoned the family, leaving Ben and younger brother Casey with their mother, a schoolteacher in Cambridge. Meanwhile, the elder Affleck has turned sober and says he is “extremely proud" of his son.
Affleck, along with best buddy Damon, attended Cambridge's exclusive Rindge and Latin high school with an excellent drama program. However, while Damon studied hard and eventually landed at Harvard, Affleck was a slacker, drinking, getting high and messing around with "all the attendant shenanigans." The duo auditioned for every film shooting in the Boston area, through the agent they shared, and by graduation day, both had serious extra credits under their respective belts.
When Damon took off for the Ivy League, Affleck made a meager attempt to continue his education at the University of Vermont, where he lasted one semester, and Occidental College in California, where he lasted a matter of weeks. Acting was more interesting.
Like all young actors, Affleck had to pay his dues. And pay them he did, with now-embarrassing credits including the forgettable miniseries Hands of a Stranger and Danielle Steele's Daddy. He made his feature debut in School Ties, a film whose main claim to fame was the fact that it starred future leading men Affleck, Chris O'Donnell and Brendan Fraser.
Believe it or not, Affleck was frequently rejected for being "beefy" and "not good-looking enough." It wasn't until 1993, when Richard Linklater cast a still-unknown Affleck in Dazed and Confused, that Ben began to be noticed, and that he began to realize independent film provided an alternative route to actor-dom. Another film that launched a few careers, Confused also starred Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey and Milla Jovavich.
Of course, it helped that the same year, Kevin Smith cast Affleck in Mallrats. Smith would later write a leading-man part specifically for Affleck in Chasing Amy. Smith also took the script for Good Will Hunting to Miramax, and the rest of that film is Hollywood (and Oscar) history.
After Good Will Hunting, the young actor's career launched forward, warp-speed (but with only one sci-fi flick, Armageddon, and only one exploit film, Phantoms.) In 1998 and 1999 combined, he appeared in nine separate films, including the highly-lauded and highly–awarded Shakespeare in Love. The film co-stared Gwyneth Paltrow who won the Best Actress award her role in the movie brining us to another aspect of Affleck’s life.
Now a genuine Hollywood heartthrob, Affleck admits, "I was bad at relationships before journalists were interested in what relationships I was in." Wryly, he adds, "I have a tremendous and storied history of failure in relationships with people who weren't actresses." For a long time, Ben maintained an on-again, off-again relationship with his high school sweetheart, Cheyenne Rothman. Then he met Paltrow, and the two became inseparable. Amazingly, although they eventually broke up, the two remain the closest of friends – they even did a Saturday Night Live sketch together, lampooning their very public romance and breakup.
Meanwhile, things look like their picking up again, with the couple being spotted in a ‘more than friendly’ position at various events and street corners in New York.
Throughout his fame, Affleck has often compared success to being on a supermarket game show in which the contestant grabs as much from the shelves as possible "before Chuck Woolery rings the bell." We're betting he's got plenty of time.
2000 Reindeer Games
1999 200 Cigarettes
1999 Forces of Nature
1998 Shakespeare in Love
1997 Good Will Hunting
1997 Going All the Way
1997 Chasing Amy
1996 Glory Daze
1993 Dazed and Confused
1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer
1992 School Ties
1981 The Dark End of the Street
1994 A Body to Die For: The Aaron Henry Story
1993 Against the Grain
1987 Hands of a Stranger
1986 Wanted: The Perfect Guy
1984 The Voyage of the Mimi
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)