Ben Affleck started his career from humble beginnings, but he worked his way toward becoming one of the most sought after leading men in Hollywood.
The actor was born in Berkeley, California, but his family moved to Massachusetts when he was 3 years old. He met his lifelong friend Matt Damon during his childhood years and the pair bonded over their mutual passion for acting. Affleck appeared in small television and movie roles before he was cast in the 1993 film Dazed and Confused. He later teamed up with director Kevin Smith and starred in the movies Mall Rats (1995) and Chasing Amy (1997).
However, the film Good Will Hunting — which he cowrote with Damon — skyrocketed him to fame in 1997. Affleck told Boston Magazine in 2013 that the pair fleshed out the story after Damon began writing the script for a playwriting class he was taking at Harvard University.
“We came up with this idea of the brilliant kid and his townie friends, where he was special and the government wanted to get their mitts on him,” Affleck explained at the time. “And it had a very Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run sensibility, where the kids from Boston were giving the NSA the slip all the time. We would improvise and drink like six or 12 beers or whatever and record it with a tape recorder. At the time we imagined the professor and the shrink would be Morgan Freeman and [Robert] De Niro, so we’d do our imitations of Freeman and De Niro. It was kind of hopelessly naive and probably really embarrassing in that respect.”
The duo’s big dreams landed them an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1997. Affleck’s career took off and he later appeared in notable films such as Armageddon (1998), Argo (2012), Gone Girl (2014), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and The Way Back (2020).
Although Affleck’s career has flourished over the years, he has publicly struggled with his personal life. The Oscar winner previously checked into rehab in 2001, 2017 and 2018. Affleck explained on the Today show in 2019 that he’s not afraid to be open about his sobriety struggles.
“Some people are sort of uncomfortable, [but] it doesn’t really bother me to talk about alcoholism and being an alcoholic,” he said at the time. “It’s part of my life. It’s something that I deal with. It doesn’t have to sort of subsume my whole identity and be everything, but it is something that you know you have to work at.”
Scroll down to see Affleck’s evolving look throughout the years.