Ben Affleck has been tough to miss these past 20 years, and he’s not slowing down anytime soon.
Since having early success as a child star in the ’80s, Affleck reinvented himself alongside lifelong friend Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” (1997), not only starring in the film, but also winning an Oscar as co-screenwriter. After the life-changing experience, the young actor found offers piling in and soon starred in blockbusters like “Armageddon” (1998) and “Daredevil” (2001), just to name a couple. The actor has since found his stride as a director, but this fall, he’s back in front of the camera in David Fincher’s critically-acclaimed thriller “Gone Girl.”
From his unlikely early roles to his family connection to Joaquin Phoenix, here are 31 things you probably don’t know about Ben Affleck.
1. Ben Affleck was born Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt on August 15, 1972 in Berkeley, California, to Chris Boldt and Timothy Affleck.
2. His mother was raised in New York City and educated at Harvard University before becoming a Mississippi freedom rider in the 1960s and working as an elementary school teacher.
3. Affleck’s father was born in Rhode Island, and was an actor and stage manager with the Theater Company of Boston in the 1960s.
4. His parents divorced when Affleck was 11, however, as a result of his father’s chronic alcoholism. He was raised by his mother, while his father has since become an addiction counselor.
5. Affleck’s younger brother is actor Casey Affleck.
6. Casey is married to Summer Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix’s sister.
7. Raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Affleck was exposed to the arts as a young child and soon began auditioning for commercials and local film productions. By the age of seven, Affleck had received acting jobs.
8. His mother saved his earnings in a college fund. She also only allowed him to audition during school holidays!
9. His first film role was in a local independent film “The Dark Side of the Street” (1981).
10. You also might recognize him as the child star of the PBS children’s series “The Voyage of the Mimi,” which aired during the early ’80s.
11. When Affleck was eight, Matt Damon moved back into town and their mothers encouraged the pair to spend time together. The future A-listers took drama classes together, played little league together, and became increasingly close.
12. The lifelong friends even shared a bank account for travel expenses to New York for acting auditions while in high school.
13. The stars first onscreen job together was in a commercial for T.J. Maxx. A few years later, they both had supporting roles in 1992’s “School Ties,” starring Brendan Fraser.
14. Both Damon and Affleck were extras in “Field of Dreams” (1989).
15. In 1998, Affleck and Damon won the Best Screenplay Oscar for “Good Will Hunting,” in which they also starred. The film was nominated for 9 Oscars and catapulted the careers of the young stars.
16. While Affleck and Damon were still penning the “Good Will Hunting” script, acclaimed filmmaker Terrence Malick agreed to meet with them and give the pair notes as a favor to Affleck’s godfather, a friend of Malick’s.
17. He later starred in Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder” in 2012.
18. After the success of “Good Will Hunting,” Affleck saw the offers flooding in. He subsequently appeared in 15 films from 1998 to 2002, most notably “Shakespeare in Love,” “Armageddon,” “Dogman,” and “Pearl Harbor.”
19. From 1997 to 1999, he dated actress Gwyneth Paltrow, whom he starred with in both “Shakespeare in Love” (1998) and “Bounce” (2000).
20. They met at the “Good Will Hunting” premiere.
21. In 2001, he began dating Jennifer Lopez after the couple met filming “Gigli” (2003). They were dubbed “Bennifer” and received excessive media attention that ultimately caused them to postpone their wedding in the fall of 2003. Soon after, the couple called it quits. Meanwhile, “Gigli” was a critical and commercial failure.
22. Affleck met his future wife on the set of “Daredevil” (2003), though the couple didn’t begin dating until mid-2004. They were married in 2005.
23. Victor Garber, Garner’s co-star in “Alias” (2001-2006), officiated the wedding and was the only guest.
24. Garner and Affleck have three children together, two daughters and a boy.
25. Affleck understands paparazzi attention is part of stardom, but he has spoken out against paparazzi targeting his children.
26. Due to the numerous film projects and his high-profile relationships in the years following “Good Will Hunting,” Affleck was perhaps the most exposed actor in America, causing a backlash to his career in the mid-2000s and leading to a two-year break.
27. Affleck has since reinvented himself as a director, however, with hits such as “Gone Baby Gone,” “The Town,” and “Argo.” The latter two films have also put him back on track as an actor.
28. In particular, “Argo” won Best Picture at the 2013 Oscars and also earned Affleck the Golden Globe for Best Director.
29. He shared the Best Picture Oscar with George Clooney, one of his producing partners.
30. Both Clooney and he have portrayed Bruce Wayne/Batman on the big screen. Affleck can be seen donning the iconic cape in 2016 for “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
31. Today, Affleck has been earning rave reviews for his performance in David Fincher’s thriller “Gone Girl” (2014).