Ben Affleck Biography

Benjamin Geza Affleck was born August 15, 1972, in Berkeley, California, but relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts with his family. Affleck's parents, Tim -- a former actor and director, and a drug rehab counselor, and Chris -- a schoolteacher and now one of his biggest advisors -- divorced not long after his birth, leaving Chris to care for sons Ben and Casey.

Acting was definitely in the family genes, as both Affleck brothers (Ben is 3 years older than Casey) wanted to become actors early on. By the age of 8, little Ben landed his first role, as a regular in the series The Voyage of the Mimi after an appearance in a Burger King commercial (thanks to his dad's connections).

golden boys of hollywood

In addition to his first acting role, 8-year-old Ben also met his future partner in crime, Matt Damon, who lived a few blocks away in Cambridge. The two had more than little league in common; they both also wanted to become actors.

Affleck was receiving bit parts here and there, such as in 1986's Wanted: The Perfect Guy, 1987's Hands of a Stranger, 1988's The Second Voyage of the Mimi, and the made-for-TV movie Daddy, in 1991. In the meantime, Affleck and Damon attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School while taking drama lessons, and auditioning and answering casting calls while studying.

The bosom buddies parted ways when Damon went to prestigious Harvard, and Affleck attended the University of Vermont and the Occidental College Eagle Rock, where he studied Middle Eastern studies. Affleck never made it as far as graduation since his desire to act was more appealing than classrooms and exams.

He did get a small part as a student in a prestigious college in the 1992 film School Ties, in which Damon had a larger role. Affleck then appeared in Dazed and Confused in 1993, and co-starred with Claire Forlani and Shannen Doherty in Kevin Smith's Mallrats, which marked the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

chasing roles

So impressed was Smith with the latter role, that he offered Affleck his first starring role in Smith's Chasing Amy, where he portrayed a comic book artist in love with a lesbian, played by Joey Lauren Adams (incidentally, both Matt Damon and Casey Affleck appeared in the film). Despite Chasing Amy's eventual cult following, Affleck and Damon were both broke and hard on their Hollywood luck.

The dream team took matters into their own hands, and wrote the screenplay for what would become Good Will Hunting. Castle Rock was going to take the script at first, but was not going to give Affleck and Damon enough control (they wouldn't have the starring roles), but after director Kevin Smith took the script to Miramax's Harvey Weinstein, they were given the go-ahead.

With Damon in the starring role and Affleck as his Boston homeboy, the dynamic duo picked up the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for 1997's Good Will Hunting, the sleeper hit of the year.

good affleck hunting

The success of Good Will Hunting, and Affleck's macho looks and boy-next-door attitude were all it took to catapult Affleck into the Hollywood mainstream. The new golden boy had roles lined up, including 1998's mega-blockbuster Armageddon, as Liv Tyler's boyfriend, and the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love, where he appeared with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Gwyneth Paltrow.

1999 saw Affleck appearing in the flop 200 Cigarettes (which also featured brother Casey), the romantic comedy Forces of Nature, co-starring Sandra Bullock, and pairing up with Matt Damon for Kevin Smith's controversial Dogma.

Affleck had a small yet critical role in the 2000 hit Boiler Room, and starred opposite sexy Charlize Theron in Reindeer Games and co-starred with Gwyneth in Bounce, also that year.

Although it was considered a bomb, Affleck rose to superstatus when he starred in the much-anticipated Pearl Harbor; he chose the role thanks to Gwyneth's encouragement. Inching his way to the $13 million mark (his last film garnered him a $12.5 million paycheck), Affleck accepted a meager $250,000 for his Pearl Harbor role, opting instead to take a larger percentage of the film's profit -- could have been a great opportunity had the film been good.

all-around dude

In addition to being a Hollywood heartthrob and an alleged womanizer (he has been linked with Senfeild's ex, Shoshanna Lonstein and actress Famke Janssen, and seems to leave a trail wherever he shoots a movie), Affleck also has directing experience with the 1993 short, I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney. Affleck and Damon are also co-founders of Project Greenlight, an organization that funds and assists aspiring filmmakers.

Affleck will next be seen in Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (with a star-studded cast consisting of Shannon Elizabeth, Eliza Dushku and Matt Damon, Changing Lanes with Samuel L. Jackson, The Third Wheel with Matt Damon and Denise Richards, and The Sum of All Fears, with Morgan Freeman.

Named one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 2000, Affleck was active in Gore's Presidential campaign, and enjoys reading poetry, collecting motorcycles (so far he has 5) and vintage video-arcade games, smoking Camel Lights, and just being one of the guys.

What else do you need to know?