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Feature: Ben Affleck

As Ned Alleyn in Shakespeare in Love

Ben Affleck might be the man without fear as Daredevil, but he’s definitely a man who’s worked hard to get to the top

On August 15, 1972 Benjamin Geza Affleck was born in Berkeley, California, to Tim and Chris Affleck. Although his father was a social worker, he would tell his kids tales of how he used to be an actor, and would go out on the town with stars like Blythe Danner, James Woods and Dustin Hoffman. Ben, and his younger brother Casey, used to just nod their heads and ignore him. Years later, at the première of Good Will Hunting, Affleck was approached by Dustin Hoffman who asked him, “Are you Tim Affleck’s son?” When Ben said that he was Hoffman replied, “Me and your father, we used to chase women together!”

Ben and Casey inherited their father’s acting ambitions and it seems Ben wanted to be an actor from the moment he popped out of the womb. He started out in a Burger King commercial before landing a regular role on a PBS show called The Voyage of Mimi when he was only eight. From then on he never looked back, starring in a variety of mini-series and TV films. He tried to find a suitable man for his mother in the 1986 ABC Afterschool special Wanted: The Perfect Guy, appeared in Hands of a Stranger, a 1987 mini-series; and was Patrick Duffy’s son in Danielle Steel’s ‘Daddy’ in 1991.

As he hit his teens he found himself most often cast in strapping athletic roles, playing a footballer in the swiftly cancelled series Against the Grain, and a high school sportsman who abuses steroids in Body to Die For: The Aaron Henry Story. TV roles provided him with a valuable apprenticeship, and he learnt his acting skills and professionalism early and well, laying solid foundations for his later success. His generosity to his fellow players, and his determination to hit the big time, never wavered: “Anybody who says there’s no such thing as professional jealousy in this business is a liar. But I always wished people the best. Maybe I’m naïve, but I felt if I just kept plugging away, it would work out for me, too.”

After a brief appearance in the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Affleck landed his first real movie role in School Ties, again playing the beefy jock, this time one who terrorized Jewish pupils at an exclusive private school. Richard Linklater’s Dazed & Confused followed in which Affleck played, guess what… yes, another beefy jock terrorizing younger kids at high school. But Affleck didn’t want to be typecast: “I don’t want my career to have any one exclusive path where you would identify me with one genre of movie. I’d rather make the characters I play different and hope to string out some sort of career from that.”

by Scott Andrews

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Photo © Miramax Films
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

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Ben Affleck 2003
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