We take a look at the career of Argo star Ben Affleck, from stand out pieces like Good Will Hunting to the less favoured Daredevil.
Hollywood has seen a number of significant revivals in recent years from actors who had strayed from the path of credibility. Mickey Rourke used Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler and to an extent, Sin City before it, to revitalise a career which, to that point, had been left in the wilderness due to Rourke’s exploration of other avenues in other professions. Robert Downey Jr. also saw his career left in tatters after being arrested in 2000 for drug charges, and it would not be until 2008, when Downey Jr. was cast as the lead character in Iron Man, that he would begin to climb back up the social ladder.
Another revival of such has been the dramatic upturn in fortunes of Ben Affleck. The screenplay writer, turned actor, turned director, turned actor (again) is now considered to be Hollywood royalty once more, but things were not always looking so rosy for Mr. Affleck.
Affleck’s road to stardom began with both starring and supporting roles in a number of Kevin Smith films, such as Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Jersey Girl. But it would not be until 1997 that Affleck would find his name thrust into the limelight. The screenplay Affleck co-wrote with close friend and co-star Matt Damon for Good Will Hunting was a phenomenal success, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, seeing off competition from the likes of Woody Allen (Deconstructing Harry), Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights) and James L. Brooks (As Good As It Gets).
Affleck’s success inevitably resulted in much more glamorous roles, such as starring as A. J. Frost in Armageddon and Captain Rafe McCawley in Pearl Harbour in 2001, both directed by Michael Bay. Despite the relative financial success of both blockbusters, Affleck’s performance was slated, along with Bay’s direction, as Affleck begun to experience the darker side of being Hollywood royalty.
This is not to say that Affleck’s credibility had completely diminished; he was still able to attract starring roles and was, at this point, still considered a star attraction if little more. Affleck’s next big project was to take on the role of blind lawyer Matt Murdock, also known as Daredevil, the orphaned crime fighter in Hell’s Kitchen. Considered by many comic book enthusiasts as one of the worst adaptations in recent years (despite a significantly improved Director’s Cut) Daredevil failed to inspire critics and audiences alike who deemed Affleck as ‘unsuitable’ and ‘miscast’ for the role of the masked avenger, leaving his already tarnished reputation in serious decline.
The release of Hollywoodland three years later, which saw Affleck take on the more than suitable role of George Reeves, a man who, after experiencing audience adulation after playing Superman, finds himself cast aside from the public eye and disposed of like yesterday’s trash. The role of an actor whose career had stalled seemed the perfect fit for Affleck, who had also experienced similar events in recent years, and was brilliantly portrayed by Affleck, who received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Despite losing out to Eddie Murphy for his role in Dreamgirls, the general consensus was that Affleck had begun to take steps toward rebuilding his reputation.
A year later, Affleck released his first film in his role as director, in the form of Gone Baby Gone, an adaptation of the book written by Dennis Lehane. Gone Baby Gone, which starred Affleck’s younger brother Casey Affleck in the starring role, was generally well received by audiences and critics, who nominated Affleck as Best Breakthrough Filmmaker. This relative success would encourage Affleck to spend more time behind the camera, instead of being in front of it.
This isn’t to say that Affleck had announced his retirement from acting. He landed starring roles in the gripping political thriller State of Play and the slightly disappointing comedy drama The Company Men, where Affleck played Bobby Walker, a man whose recently forced unemployment encourages him to explore other avenues of his life. Affleck’s next directorial feature came in the form of The Town (which Affleck also starred in), a film centred around a group of bank robbers in America who begin to capitulate due to a clash of differing personalities.
Affleck’s latest film to date (at the time of writing) comes in the form of Argo, another adaptation, which explains the role of CIA Agent Tony Mendez in relation to the rescue of six US Diplomats from Iran in 1979. Widely acclaimed by film critics, Argo, along with other recent works by Affleck has firmly seen Affleck re-discover some of the obvious talent he displayed earlier in his career.