American actor and filmmaker Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt was born on August 15, 1972 in Berkeley, California, and was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother, Chris Anne (née Boldt), is a school teacher, and his father, Timothy Byers Affleck, is a social worker; the two are divorced. Ben has a younger brother, actor Casey Affleck, who was born in 1975. He is of mostly English, Irish, German, and Scottish ancestry. His middle name, Géza, is after a Hungarian family friend who was a Holocaust survivor.
Affleck wanted to be an actor ever since he could remember, and his first acting experience was for a Burger King commercial, when he was on the PBS mini-series, The Voyage of the Mimi (1984). It was also at that age when Ben met his lifelong friend and fellow actor, Matt Damon. They played little league together and took drama classes together. Ben’s teen years consisted of mainly TV movies and small television appearances including Hands of a Stranger (1987) and The Second Voyage of the Mimi (1988). He made his big introduction into feature films in 1993 when he was cast in Dazed and Confused (1993). After that, he did mostly independent films like Kevin Smith‘s Mallrats (1995) and Chasing Amy (1997) which were great for Ben’s career, receiving renowned appreciation for his works at the Sundance film festival. But the success he was having in independent films didn’t last much longer and things got a little shaky for Ben.
He was living in an apartment with his brother Casey and friend Matt Damon, getting tired of being turned down for the big roles in films and being given the forgettable supporting ones. And since Matt was having the same trouble, they decided to write their own script, where they could call all the shots. The script would become Good Will Hunting (1997). The film was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and won two, including Best Supporting Actor for Robin Williams & Best Original Screenplay for Ben and Matt. The film marked Ben’s breakthrough role, in which he was given for the first time the chance to choose roles instead of having to go through grueling auditions constantly.
Affleck chose such roles in the blockbusters Armageddon (1998), Shakespeare in Love (1998), and Pearl Harbor (2001). In the early years of the 2000s, he also starred in the box office hits Changing Lanes (2002), The Sum of All Fears (2002), and Daredevil (2003), as well as the disappointing comedies Gigli (2003) and Surviving Christmas (2004). While the mid 2000s were considered a career downturn for Affleck, he received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in Hollywoodland(2006). In the several years following, he played supporting roles, including in the films Smokin’ Aces(2006), He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), State of Play (2009), and Extract (2009). He ventured into directing in 2007, with the thriller Gone Baby Gone (2007), which starred his brother, Casey Affleck, and was well received. He then directed, co-wrote, and starred in The Town (2010), which was named to the National Board of Review Top Ten Films of the year. For the political thriller Argo (2012), which he directed and starred in. Affleck won the BAFTA Award for Best Director, the Academy Award for Best Picture & Screenplay, the Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for Best Picture.
In 2014, Affleck headlined the book adaptation thriller Gone Girl (2014). He starred as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the superhero film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), briefly reprised the character in Suicide Squad (2016), and did so again in Justice League (2017).
In recent years Affleck has been battling his own demons with alcoholism. It’s an issue he has dealt with a few times before, now he is addressing it head on. His new film “The Way Back”, which he reunites with director Gavin O’ Connor (“The Accountant”) focuses on alcoholism and the battle of picking yourself up.
Affleck is one of my favorite filmmakers who has made a huge impact with his distinct vision in just a matter of four films. Alongside Michael J Fox being my favorite celebrity, Ben Affleck holds that rank right next to him. In honor of his new film, I’ve ranked Ben Affleck’s best films as a lead actor and as a director.
The Lead Actor:
1. The Town (2010)
Directed By: Ben Affleck
*Academy Award Nominee: Best Supporting Actor Jeremy Renner
Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) leads a band of ruthless bank robbers and has no real attachments except for James (Jeremy Renner), who — despite his dangerous temper — is like a brother. Everything changes for Doug when James briefly takes a hostage, bank employee Claire Keesey. Learning that she lives in the gang’s neighborhood, Doug seeks her out to discover what she knows, and he falls in love. As the romance deepens, he wants out of his criminal life, but that could threaten Claire.
2. Jersey Girl (2004)
Directed By: Kevin Smith
Ollie Trinke (Ben Affleck) is young and at the top of his game as a music promoter. He is both a workaholic and a silver-tongued expert at manipulating the press. At a company Christmas party, Ollie meets Gertrude Steiney (Jennifer Lopez), a book editor for a New York publishing house. They are instantly attracted to each other, and begin a whirlwind romance that changes the course of his personal and professional life.
3. Gone Girl (2014)
Directed By: David Fincher
In Carthage, Mo., former New York-based writer Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his glamorous wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) present a portrait of a blissful marriage to the public. However, when Amy goes missing on the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary, Nick becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. The resulting police pressure and media frenzy cause the Dunnes’ image of a happy union to crumble, leading to tantalizing questions about who Nick and Amy truly are.
4. Pearl Harbor (2001)
Directed By: Michael Bay
*4 Academy Award Nominations & 1 Win: Best Sound Editing
This sweeping drama, based on real historical events, follows American boyhood friends Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett) as they enter World War II as pilots. Rafe is so eager to take part in the war that he departs to fight in Europe alongside England’s Royal Air Force. On the home front, his girlfriend, Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale), finds comfort in the arms of Danny. The three of them reunite in Hawaii just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
5. Argo (2012)
Directed By: Ben Affleck
*2 Oscar Wins: Best Picture, Best Screenplay & Film Editing
On Nov. 4, 1979, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, taking 66 American hostages. Amid the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge with the Canadian ambassador. Knowing that it’s just a matter of time before the refugees are found and likely executed, the U.S. government calls on extractor Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to rescue them. Mendez’s plan is to pose as a Hollywood producer scouting locations in Iran and train the refugees to act as his “film” crew.
6. Armageddon (1998)
Directed By: Michael Bay
When an asteroid threatens to collide with Earth, NASA honcho Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) determines the only way to stop it is to drill into its surface and detonate a nuclear bomb. This leads him to renowned driller Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), who agrees to helm the dangerous space mission provided he can bring along his own hotshot crew. Among them is the cocksure A.J. (Ben Affleck), who Harry thinks isn’t good enough for his daughter (Liv Tyler), until the mission proves otherwise.
7. The Accountant (2016)
Directed By: Gavin O’ Connor
Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a mathematics savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Using a small-town CPA office as a cover, he makes his living as a freelance accountant for dangerous criminal organizations. With a Treasury agent (J.K. Simmons) hot on his heels, Christian takes on a state-of-the-art robotics company as a legitimate client. As Wolff gets closer to the truth about a discrepancy that involves millions of dollars, the body count starts to rise.
8. Triple Frontier (2019)
Directed By: JC Chandor
Former Special Forces operatives reunite to plan a heist in a sparsely populated multi-border zone of South America. For the first time in their prestigious careers, these unsung heroes undertake this dangerous mission for themselves instead of the country. But when events take an unexpected turn and threaten to spiral out of control, their skills, their loyalties, and their morals are pushed to a breaking point in an epic battle for survival.
9. Bounce (2000)
Directed By: Don Roos
An advertising executive falls in love with a young widow, but fails to tell her that he was partly responsible for her husband’s death. Having sold an airline ticket to a stranger, the successful businessman later learns that the flight crashed, killing the man to whom he sold his seat. A year later, he finds the man’s widow, and the pair form a loving relationship, but his guilt proves too much to bear.
10. The Company Men (2010)
Directed By: John Wells
A young executive at a shipping and manufacturing conglomerate, Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is on the fast track to the top. He is a rising star at work and has all the material trappings of success. Then his company goes through a few rounds of layoffs, so Bobby and colleagues Phil (Chris Cooper) and Gene (Tommy Lee Jones) find themselves on the unemployment line. As the year unfolds, all three must redefine their lives as they struggle to survive in a hostile post-career landscape.