Ben Affleck’s Ups and Downs Both On and Off Screen

Ben Affleck has had an extraordinary career in Hollywood spanning over 30 years. He first rose to fame in the 1990s with films like Good Will Hunting and Armageddon, establishing himself as a leading man. However, his career has also faced many ups and downs, with both critical and commercial flops over the years. Off-screen, Affleck has also dealt with substance abuse issues and Relationshipproblems, going through very public breakups. This article explores Ben Affleck’s varied career on and off screen – analyzing the highs and lows he has experienced in the fickle world of fame.


Ben Affleck first caught the attention of moviegoers in the early 90s with indie films like Dazed and Confused. His major breakthrough came with 1997’s Good Will Hunting which earned him an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay along with longtime friend Matt Damon. This launched Affleck into blockbuster stardom with hits like Armageddon, Shakespeare in Love and Pearl Harbor.

However, things took a turn in the early 2000s as several of Affleck’s films underperformed critically and commercially. High-profile relationships with Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Garner also put his personal life under constant media scrutiny. Affleck managed to bounce back in the 2010s by reinventing himself as an acclaimed director and the Batman in DC’s movie universe. But his struggle with alcoholism continued to make headlines.

This article will analyze the trajectory of Ben Affleck’s film career, examining the movies that made him a star along with his biggest box office bombs and critical failures. It will also look at Affleck’s much-publicized love life and the impact his personal struggles have had on his public image.

The Early Years – Indie Films, Breakthrough with Good Will Hunting (1992-1997)

After minor TV roles as a child, Affleck’s film career began in the early 90s with supporting parts in independent movies like Dazed and Confused (1993) and Mallrats (1995).

TABLE: Ben Affleck’s Early Indie Films

| Film | Year | Role | Notes |
| Dazed and Confused | 1993 | Fred O’Bannion | Breakout indie hit |
| Mallrats | 1995 | Shannon Hamilton | Cult classic directed by Kevin Smith |
| Chasing Amy | 1997 | Holden McNeil | Romantic comedy co-starring Matt Damon |

Affleck became close friends with fellow up-and-coming actor Matt Damon after meeting him in the late 80s. Together they co-wrote the script for Good Will Hunting which became a surprise critical and commercial hit in 1997.

Good Will Hunting

  • Release Year: 1997
  • Box Office: $225 million
  • Accolades: 9 Oscar nominations, 2 Oscar wins (Original Screenplay)
  • Plot: Will Hunting (Damon) is a troubled genius who gets help from a therapist (Robin Williams) and finds love with a Harvard student (Minnie Driver).

The indie drama earned over $225 million globally and landed Affleck and Damon an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. This marked the beginning of Affleck’s ascent to mainstream stardom.

Rise to Fame – Armageddon, Shakespeare in Love, Pearl Harbor (1998-2001)

On the back of Good Will Hunting’s success, Affleck cemented his leading man status with roles in major studio films like Armageddon, Shakespeare in Love and Pearl Harbor.

Armageddon (1998)

  • Worldwide Box Office: $553 million
  • Role: A.J. Frost – oil driller recruited by NASA to stop an asteroid collision with Earth.
  • Notes: #1 movie of the year establishing Affleck as a bankable action star.

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

  • Accolades: 7 Oscar wins (Best Picture) out of 13 nominations
  • Role: Ned Alleyn – love interest of Gwyneth Paltrow’s character.
  • Notes: Prestigious period drama that won Best Picture Oscar.

Pearl Harbor (2001)

  • Worldwide Box Office: $449 million
  • Role: Capt. Rafe McCawley – daring pilot who falls for a nurse (Kate Beckinsale).
  • Notes: Big-budget war epic that became one of top grossers of 2001.

This successful run of films established Affleck as a versatile leading man adept at action, romance and drama roles. He got lucrative opportunities to star alongside A-listers like Bruce Willis, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale.

Career Decline – “Gigli” Flop, “Daredevil”, “Surviving Christmas” (2002-2004)

However, things took a turn for the worse in the early 2000s as big-budget films like Daredevil, Gigli and Surviving Christmas flopped at the box office and were ravaged by critics.

Gigli (2003)

  • Worldwide Box Office: $7 million
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 6% Critics Score
  • Role: Larry Gigli – mob enforcer tasked with kidnapping a prosecutor’s brother.
  • Notes: Co-starring then girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, Gigli is often cited as one of the worst movies ever made.

Daredevil (2003)

  • Worldwide Box Office: $179 million
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 44% Critics Score
  • Role: Matt Murdock/Daredevil – blind lawyer who is also a masked vigilante.
  • Notes: Panned by critics as a forgettable superhero film.

Surviving Christmas (2004)

  • Worldwide Box Office: $32 million
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 7% Critics Score
  • Role: Drew Latham – lonely millionaire who pays a family to let him spend Christmas with them.
  • Notes: Christmas comedy was a major box office bomb.

This string of flops seriously damaged Affleck’s star power in the early-to-mid 2000s. He went from being an A-list leading man to an object of mockery in the media after the disastrous Gigli.

Comeback Through Directing – “The Town”, “Argo” (2007-2012)

After his acting career faltered, Affleck made his comeback by reinventing himself as an acclaimed director. In 2007, he directed the critically praised crime drama The Town starring himself alongside Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner.

The Town (2010)

  • Worldwide Box Office: $154 million
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Critics Score
  • Notes: Directorial debut that re-established Affleck’s talent and maturity.

His major comeback came with 2012’s Argo which he directed, produced and starred in. The fact-based thriller about a CIA operation during the Iran hostage crisis became a surprise box office hit and awards season darling.

Argo (2012)

  • Worldwide Box Office: $232 million
  • Accolades: 3 Oscars (Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing), 2 Golden Globes
  • Notes: Directorial masterpiece that revitalized Affleck’s career.

Batman and Beyond – “The Accountant”, Return as Caped Crusader (2016-present)

Affleck continued his career resurgence by taking on the role of Batman in the DC Extended Universe. He first appeared as the Caped Crusader in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Batman v Superman (2016)

  • Worldwide Box Office: $873 million
  • Role: Bruce Wayne/Batman
  • Notes: Despite mixed reviews, the film was a major box office success.

He went on to reprise this iconic role in Suicide Squad (2016) and Justice League (2017), and is slated to star in the standalone The Batman movie. Affleck has signed a multi-picture deal to play Batman well into the 2020s.

Some of his other recent roles include:

  • The Accountant (2016) – Action thriller that was a sleeper box office hit grossing $155 million worldwide.
  • Deep Water (2022) – Erotic thriller reuniting him with Ana de Armas his co-star from The Last Duel.
  • Witness for the Prosecution (TBA) – Adaptation of Agatha Christie’s story that he is set to direct and star in.

Affleck has managed to successfully reinvent himself after career and personal setbacks. He is once again a bankable star who can balance acting and directing high-profile projects.

Personal Life – High Profile Relationships, Substance Abuse Issues

In his personal life, Affleck has gone through many ups and downs under constant media scrutiny. He has been in several high-profile relationships and has struggled with alcohol addiction.

Key Relationships

  • Jennifer Lopez (2002–2004) – Began dating co-star from Gigli at the height of public obsession over “Bennifer”. Engaged before calling off wedding in 2004.
  • Jennifer Garner (2004–2015) – Met and married Garner while co-starring in Daredevil and Pearl Harbor. Had 3 children before divorcing in 2018 after separating in 2015.
  • Lindsay Shookus (2017–2019) – Dated the SNL producer on and off for 2 years during his sobriety efforts.
  • Ana de Armas (2020-2021) – Co-starred with de Armas in erotic thriller Deep Water during the pandemic. Split in 2021.

Alcohol Struggles

  • Entered rehab in 2001 – Checked himself into a facility at age 27 for treatment of alcoholism and depression.
  • Relapsed in 2018 – Paparazzi photos showed him drunk outside Halloween party months after finishing rehab again.
  • Completed third rehab stint in 2020 and has been sober since.

Affleck has been very open about his struggles with alcohol addiction over the past 20 years. His personal struggles likely impacted his acting career and romantic relationships.

Conclusion – A Rollercoaster Career Filled with Highs and Lows

In summary, Ben Affleck’s extraordinary career has had its fair share of dizzying highs and lows. He rose to fame as an indie darling in the 90s before becoming an A-list movie star with hits like Armageddon. But critical and commercial flops like Gigli derailed his career for much of the 2000s before his directorial comeback with The Town and Argo. He managed to bring his career full circle by taking on the iconic role of Batman in blockbusters like Batman v Superman.

Off-screen, Affleck’s love life was constantly in the tabloids during his relationships with Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Garner. He also bravely battled alcohol addiction issues going through multiple stints in rehab. Now in his 50s, Ben Affleck has proven his resilience by reinventing himself and overcoming professional and personal setbacks. His varied career trajectory remains endlessly fascinating to follow for both movie fans and celebrity culture aficionados.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What was Ben Affleck’s first major movie role?

A: Ben Affleck’s first major movie role was in 1997’s Good Will Hunting which he co-wrote and co-starred in with Matt Damon. He played one of the leads alongside Damon and the film earned them an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Q: Why did Ben Affleck’s career decline in the early 2000s?

A: Affleck starred in a string of box office and critical flops between 2002-2004 including Daredevil, Gigli and Surviving Christmas. The dismal failure of Gigli alongside then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez was especially damaging to his career.

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Q: How did Ben Affleck make his comeback in the 2010s?

A: Affleck reinvented himself as an acclaimed director earning rave reviews for his work on crime dramas like The Town (2010) and Argo (2012). Argo won Best Picture at the Oscars, re-establishing him as a power player in Hollywood.

Q: What high profile romantic relationships was Ben Affleck involved in?

A: Affleck’s most famous relationships were with Jennifer Lopez (early 2000s) and Jennifer Garner (married 2005-2018). He was constantly in the public eye during his engagement with Lopez and marriage/divorce with Garner.

Q: When did Ben Affleck struggle publicly with alcohol addiction?

A: Affleck has battled alcoholism since 2001 when he first entered rehab at age 27. He had a relapse in 2018 with paparazzi photos of him drunk. He completed another rehab stint in 2020 and has been sober since.

Q: What iconic movie role did Ben Affleck take on in 2016?

A: In 2016, Affleck began portraying Batman/Bruce Wayne in the DC Extended Universe starting with Batman v Superman. He signed a multi-picture deal to play Batman well into the 2020s.


Ben Affleck has experienced extraordinary ups and downs throughout his long career in the spotlight. He went from indie star to blockbuster sensation in the late 90s only to see his career crater shortly after. But he managed to engineer an impressive comeback through directing that restored his star power. Off-screen, tabloid-fodder relationships and alcoholism struggles made his personal lows very public. Now with a Batman reincarnation under his belt, Affleck has proven he has the talent and resilience to continually reinvent himself.

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