Ben Affleck

“There’s something really great and romantic about being poor and sleeping on couches.”
Ben Affleck

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, getting tired of being turned down for the big roles in films and being given the forgettable supporting ones. Since Matt was having the same trouble, they decided to write their own script, where they could call all the shots. So, after finishing the script for Good Will Hunting (1997), they gave it to their agent Patrick Whitesell, who showed it to a few Hollywood studios, finally being accepted by Castlerock. It was great news for the two but Castlerock wasn’t willing to give Ben and Matt the control over the project they were hoping for. It was friend Kevin Smith who took it to the head of Miramax who bought the script giving Ben and Matt the control they wanted and, in December of 1997, Good Will Hunting was released, making the two unknown actors famous. The film was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and won two, including 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. He chose such roles in the blockbusters Armageddon (1998/I), Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Pearl Harbor (2001). With these hits to his credit, Hollywood can’t seem to get enough of Ben, with directors wanting him in their movies and companies wanting his screenplays. His inspirational story of hard work and amazing climb to the top has brought him what he deserves and Ben Affleck has shown no sign of slowing down.

Find out more about Ben or contact him for to help Gavin’s How Many Days? mission here:

Hunting for good will can move mountains.

Why he’s on the list?

Now, I had seen Ben Affleck in Dazed and Confused when it opened.  I had also seen School Ties a few times having used it as part of a high school presentation.  In school, I was quite gifted at taking whatever topic we were studying in a given class and convincing the teacher that I knew a great movie that explored that topic or theme.  My goal was getting the class to watch it instead of working.

Now to say that these two films started my love for his acting would be a great big lie.  It was in going to Michigan (since the movie in question was not playing in the city where I live now and we did not have a  movie theatre in the town I grew up in) to see the opening night of Mallrats that drew my attention to Ben.  Funny man.  His performance as manager of Fashionable Males, Shannon Hamilton, was very memorable.  To the point that I still quote from it to this – “Call me Donnie, call me Joey, who’s your favourite New Kid?!”

The crowning achievement for my attention and inspiration would be Good Will Hunting.  I saw it twice in a few days at the theatre and then a few more times taking friends and family that I felted needed to see this movie.  When I learned that Ben had written it with Matt Damon, it inspired me to get my ass out of that movie theatre and attempt writing a feature again.  I had written two feature film screenplays by that point but was sitting around thinking they weren’t very good and that I wasn’t good enough as a young man to be writing anything that could be seen as worthy by Hollywood professionals.  Seeing Ben win the Oscar for this film – I’ll never forget looking at the television and thinking – that’s it, I’m gonna write and write and do that one day.  Seeing him win that Oscar showed that a young person with enough determination and a great story to tell can get straight to the top of the professional film world.  It was a huge boost in my writing determination and I pounded out two more screenplays.  One of them became the base script for my first feature film which I would shoot some five or six years later.

Ben is also directing now.  I really love actors that direct.  I think they are making some of the most fantastic films out there today. Understanding both sides of the camera has to be beneficial to getting the performances you want for your own film.   Ben founded Project: Greenlight – a reality show and screenwriting competition in order to help young filmmakers get a shot at making their first major feature film.  He gives back.  He remembers the struggle.  From an outside perspective, it doesn’t seem that the fame has gone to his head – and the world needs more people like this.  When I read back on the struggle he had to get his acting started, sleeping on couches and not knowing where the next pay check was coming from – I related.  Sometimes that’s all you need in the long, dark nights in your makeshift home office to push your writing forward.  Just knowing that others who have found their successful break and have had their dreams unfold in front of them started out just like you.  Having written those next two screenplays after a huge boost from the Good Will Hunting inspiration, I felt… who knows where I’d be without it.  That film still sits in my top five favourite films.

Are you in the film business or a fan of his work?  Were you inspired by Ben Affleck?  If so, what do you like about them?  Leave a comment below, post a scene from his films or interviews from youtube with him.  I dare you!

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