For Ben Affleck, The Road To Batman Was Long and Winding

Ben Affleck has been handed the keys to the Batmobile, picking up the torch from the excellent Christain Bale to portray Gotham’s troubled hero. At 41-years of age, the road to one of Hollywood’s most prestigious roles – made so by director Christopher Nolan and Bale – hasn’t been a smooth one for Affleck, who endured his fair share of bumps and crashes along the way.

Ben AffleckAffleck proudly weilds his Argo Oscar for Best Picture

"We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics' most enduringly popular super heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill and then some," Warner Bros President Greg Silverman said in a statement. "(Affleck) has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne," said Snyder. "I can't wait to work with him. (BBC)

There was a time, and it wasn’t so long ago, when calling Affleck an “extraordinary” actor wouldn’t have been a popular opinion. But three Oscars at the 2013 Academy Awards – including one for Best Picture – put the Good Will Hunting star back on the map, and more importantly, it reminded studios that he’s still a marketable star, with his historical thriller grabbing over $230m worldwide.

Born into blue collar life in California, his mother a teacher, his father everything from a counsellor to a janitor; a bartender to an actor, Affleck first gained wide recognition alongside Matt Damon with Good Will Hunting, which grabbed the pair an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. With his reputation already reaching its apparent apex, Affleck was a young star with a huge future.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer GarnerBen Affleck and his wife of eight years, Jennifer Garner

A slew of high grossing yet badly reviewed films would follow. Affleck starred in Armageddon alongside Bruce Willis – now a cult hit – and saw the film gross over $500m worldwide. Collaboration with Michael Bay for Pearl Harbour would yield similar results: mixed critical response but a delighted studio with $449m.

Recalling a conversation he had with Affleck in 2003, Damon said: ''I would call him from Prague and say 'How're you?'. He'd go 'You know, I'm in the absolute worst place you can be. I can sell magazines but not movie tickets. I'm in f***ing jail. I was like, 'It's going to be a long, long, long walk back up the hill.' But he knew he could do it because he's a writer, he's a director, he's incredibly talented.'" (Yahoo)

In-between making movies, Affleck enjoyed a touch of frivolity in his personal life, indulging in gambling and drinking. The poker never seemed to take hold of his life – damaging to his reputation as it then was - as he won major tournaments and controlled it. But alcohol would lead him to rehab. And even though he checked himself in and dealth with his issues in a timely manner, the media leading with lines like “Looks like another young star is having some problems,” paints an accurate picture of the reaction at the time.

Ben Affleck beardThe beard certainly helped his comeback, there's no doubt

Popular turns in The Sum of All Fears and Changing Lanes would follow, but 2003/4 would herald an awful year for the current Batman. Gigil, in which he played the titular character and Surviving Christmas accumulated a combined gross score of 6.5% on Rotten Tomatoes. Add to that films like Paycheck, Smokin’ Aces, The Third Wheel and Man About Town, and Affleck was staring down the barrel of mediocrity. All in all, the 2000s were a decade to forget for Hollywood’s golden boy.

His personal relationships also attracted a lot of attention; high profile romances with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez saw the papers swarm round his every movie. This intensity only moved to highlight his contemporaneous professional misgivings. Affleck was a joke around Hollywood, and needed something to pull him back up. Marrying Daredevil co-star Jennifer Garner in 2005 was the first step of a fortunate path.

Afflecks trials and tribulations, especially his battered reputation, were unfair. And, testament to his character, he continued to fight for what he believed in, maintaining a political voice for the Democratic ticket despite his career not going the way he would have liked. A few divots in the road formed a large chunk of the last decade, but with Argo, Affleck’s respectability was restored.

Ben Affleck, George Cloony and Grant HeslovBen Affleck, George Cloony and Grant Heslov celebrate more Argo success, this time with a Bafta

He starred and directed the critically acclaimed Oscar winner, and was visibly moved to be ‘back’ in his acceptance speech. Now he’s set to take a corner in the biggest superhero battle of all time: Batman v Superman in Snyder’s Man of Steel 2. He’ll also be working with David Fincher – director of Fight Club and Se7en – on Gone Girl, due for release in 2015. It hasn’t been the easiest of paths for the one-time boy wonder, but in sticking with the right people – namely Matt Damon and George Clooney – he worked his way back to the pantheon of the Hollywood cool table.

And now, he's Batman.


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Tags: Ben Affleck - Matt Damon - George Clooney - Jennifer Garner - Jennifer Aniston - David Fincher - Batman - Superman

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