Ben Affleck has been in the entertainment industry for what seems like forever. He got his start alongside his buddy Matt Damon, and ended up forging a professional trajectory that included a wide variety of roles, as well as writing and directing credits.
He may not be the first name that pops into fans' minds when they think of a legendary actor, but the man has done pretty well for himself!
However, he's also had his fair share of drama over the years, which may be the reason it's not just his work that people are talking about when they discuss him. He's dated some high profile celebrities, like Jennifer Lopez, and even married the gorgeous Jennifer Garner.
He had personal battles, issues with his relationships, the list is endless. Through it all, he continued to produce fantastic movies, but it's tough for people to think of a person as solely an actor when their face is splashed across the tabloids on a regular basis. It's something many celebrities have to deal with, but it certainly doesn't make it any easier.
So, whether fans love him or leave him, it's not hard to acknowledge that Ben Affleck is an interesting guy—here are 20 things to know about his fall from grace.
20 He Got His First Acting Job At Just 12 Years Old
Most people assume that Affleck got his start in Hollywood when he was in his 20s because that's when he started booking bigger projects. Plus, they all knew he grew up in the Boston area, so he must be a Los Angeles transplant, right? Well, kind of.
Ben Affleck actually booked his first acting job when he was just 12 years old, on a PBS educational drama called The Voyage of the Mimi.
He wasn't a child star by any means, but he had a few gigs that encouraged him to pursue acting as he got older—and obviously, it worked out for him!
19 His Dad And Girlfriend Worked As Ivy League Janitors, Inspiring Good Will Hunting
There's no denying that Good Will Hunting was a major achievement for Ben Affleck and his BFF Matt Damon, but did you know that components of it were actually inspired by Affleck's real life? And no, not the math genius part. It turns out, as Damon revealed in a speech in 2013, Affleck's father was a janitor at Harvard, and his girlfriend at the time was a janitor in the dorms at Harvard. The two of them must have shared a lot about their experiences with Affleck, which is likely part of why Damon's character in the movie is so true to life.
18 He Broke Up With Gwyneth Paltrow Because He Wasn't Into The Goop Lifestyle
Back in his younger days in Hollywood, before he married Jennifer Garner and before he dated Jennifer Lopez, Affleck actually dated Goop guru Gwyneth Paltrow for a while.
However, they ended up parting ways, and her lifestyle was a big part of it for Affleck.
As he spilled in an interview shortly after their breakup, "the germ grass and meditation... that is not my thing. I'd say that we're not together because Gwyneth is much more evolved than I am. She is closer to inner-piece, whereas I have a very difficult time sitting still." Well, at least he was honest! It seems Gwyneth was living the Goop lifestyle far before Goop was an actual business.
17 He Was Once Driven To A Recovery Facility By Charlie Sheen
If you thought about Ben Affleck and Charlie Sheen heading to a recovery facility, you would likely assume that Affleck was helping his buddy Sheen. However, it turns out, it was the other way around back in 2001. Affleck was having some issues with alcohol, so Sheen—who had been in recovery time and time again and knew the drill at that point—personally drove his friend to Malibu to help him check in and address his problems. Affleck's personal battles are something that not many people know about, but that has definitely had a huge impact on his life.
16 He Has Several Unsettling Tattoos
Ben Affleck doesn't have the best judgment when it comes to tattoos. His first tattoo, which he got with a fake ID at 16, was barbed wire. Then, he got a girlfriend's name, which he covered up—and not very well, leading to a weird splotchy bit of ink on his shoulder.
However, the worst was the back tattoo he got after splitting with Jennifer Garner.
It's so bad we won't even show it to you, but you may remember seeing it immediately after he got it—an absolutely huge back tattoo of a phoenix rising from the ashes. If done well, it could have been stunning, but the art he picked was... well, not the greatest.
15 He Got Busted For Counting Cards
Ben Affleck may not a mathematics genius like Matt Damon's character in Good Will Hunting, but it turns out he's pretty good with numbers. He combined his love of card games with his aptitude for numbers, and actually ended up getting banned from a Las Vegas spot, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, back in 2014. The reason? He was counting cards at the table where high rollers were playing. As a veteran gambler, he obviously knew that was against the rules, but he wanted the win—crazy! We can't think of many other actors who got in trouble for counting cards, if any.
14 He Temporarily Shut Down The Production Of Gone Girl Because Of A Baseball Cap
Many people know that Boston-raised Ben Affleck is a huge Red Sox fan—however, you may not have known just how big a fan. When he was filming Gone Girl, director David Fincher requested that his character wear a Yankees hat. It's just a wardrobe piece, right?
Well, Affleck is such a huge Red Sox fan that he flat out refused to wear a Yankees cap, to the point where production was shut down for four days.
That is, until they made a compromise and Affleck agreed to wear a Mets hat instead (although he probably still wasn't happy about it). On the one hand, it's nice that he's so dedicated to his hometown team, but on the other hand, what a diva move!
13 He Met Bestie Matt Damon When They Were Just Kids
Most people know at this point that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have a close relationship—even if they may not hang out as much now as they did when they were two single guys in Hollywood. However, what you may not know is just how far back their friendship goes. They met while they were growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when Affleck was just eight years old and Damon was ten. They lived only two blocks away from each other, and went to the same schools growing up. And, interestingly, Affleck was one of the reasons Damon got into the industry—he introduced his pal to his agent, who ended up signing Damon as well!
12 He's A Two-Time College Dropout
Though he grew up hanging out in Harvard Yard, Ben Affleck didn't actually end up getting a degree before hitting it big in Hollywood.
He went to the University of Vermont for a semester to try out college life, and then studied Middle Eastern studies at Occidental College, but he left there after a year as well.
Perhaps one day he'll go back to earn a degree if he's still interested in the subject matter, but with such a successful life in the entertainment industry, he obviously doesn't need to anymore. Although, it'd probably be a whole lot easier to pay for it now than it would have been back when he was a struggling aspiring actor!
11 Jennifer Lopez's Song "Dear Ben" Is About Him
If you date a musician, especially if you have a lengthier relationship, it's almost a guarantee that you'll get a song written about you at some point. That's exactly what happened to Ben Affleck. Not only did he appear in the music video for "Jenny From The Block," but he also got a song written about him, entitled "Dear Ben." While in many cases musicians write songs about their exes, in that case, Lopez clearly wrote about it when she was still with him. We have to admit, it must be strange to hear songs about you from past relationships—and even stranger for your current partner to hear them!
10 He And Matt Damon Once Shared A Bank Account
While they're both huge movie stars now, there was a time when Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were both struggling actors trying to make it big in the entertainment industry.
And, rather than competing with one another, they decided to help each other out—to the point where they actually shared a bank account!
They had a bank account where they put as much money as they could to fund trips to New York City for auditions. It's a good thing that both of them ended up making it in the industry—can you imagine how heartbreaking it would be to work together so hard for so long, only to have one of you succeed and the other not?
9 He Sold The Script For Good Will Hunting For $600,000
Good Will Hunting is the perfect example of making your own luck. Damon and Affleck were both aspiring actors trying to get their big break, and rather than waiting around, they wrote a script together—and ended up selling it for $600,000! While the money probably helped ease the financial burden of being a struggling actor for a while, the biggest part was that they took the lead roles for themselves, allowing Hollywood to see exactly what they could do on screen. When they were having trouble getting their big breaks, they decided to create their own—how amazing is that?
8 He Owns 5 Different Motorcycles
Ben Affleck has played his fair share of roles that require some action star prowess. However, it turns out, he's a bit of an adrenaline junkie in real life as well! When he's not jetting around in a limo on his way to awards shows, he loves to travel by motorcycle.
The A-Lister actually owns five motorcycles, and loves to hop on them and jet around California whenever the opportunity strikes.
It's probably a lot easier to hide your identity when you've got a huge motorcycle helmet on than when you're sitting in a car with your entire face visible through the glass. Perhaps Affleck has cracked the code to avoiding paparazzi while out running errands!
7 He's Fluent In Spanish, Thanks To A Teenage Stint In Mexico
When at the premiere of Batman vs. Superman in Mexico City, Affleck stunned the world by answering his interview questions in pretty flawless Spanish. It turns out, he actually lived in Mexico for a little while when he was a teenager, and ended up picking up Spanish during his time there. Obviously, he likely needed to practice a bit over the years in order to keep his Spanish skills up, but that's a pretty impressive tidbit! It's always good for an actor to have a few things to add to his resume that help him stand apart from the crowd, and a foreign language is definitely one of them!
6 He Was An Awkward, Short Theatre Geek In High School
Affleck has been a celebrity for so long that it's hard to see him as anything but a successful leading man. However, back in high school, he had a bit of a different experience.
As he himself has admitted, when he was a freshman he was an "awkward theatre geek" who hadn't get gotten a growth spurt and stood at just five foot one.
Obviously, he eventually added a few inches to his frame, bulked out, and got a little more comfortable with himself and more confident. However, that can't have been an easy experience back in high school! We assumed he was a jock—who knew?
5 At 40, He Was The Oldest Batman Ever Cast
When it comes to casting a character as iconic as Batman, especially one that has been played by several actors over the years, everyone is always going to have an opinion. Many people loved Affleck as Batman, many people disliked him in the role, but he does have one unique distinction—at 40 years old, he was the oldest actor to be cast in the role. Considering Batman is usually a pretty physical role and has to fill out the costume in a certain way, that makes sense—still, it's pretty impressive! He may lose that distinction in the future if they cast someone older, but for now, he can boast about being the oldest Batman.
4 His Mom Gave Him A Strange Test As A Child When He Wanted A Dog
When he was a kid, like many other kids do, Ben Affleck asked his mom for a pet—a dog, specifically.
Rather than flat out saying no, his mom decided to give him a bit of a test and require him to walk an imaginary dog for a week in order to prove that he was up to the responsibilities of caring for a canine.
She sounds like a smart cookie! Affleck managed to follow her rules for five days, but couldn't quite make it to day six and seven of the imaginary walks, so he didn't end up getting a dog.
3 He Was An Extra In Field Of Dreams
It's hard to imagine Ben Affleck being an extra in a movie—we're so used to seeing him in the leading role. However, back in 1989, he and his friend Matt Damon ended up getting gigs as extras in the background of the movie Field of Dreams. The two are huge baseball fans, who grew up idolizing the Red Sox, so it makes sense that they would want to be a part of such a legendary baseball tale. We're not sure if you'd actually be able to spot them in the crowd, but next time you're re-watching the classic film, take a peek in the background to see if you can find a younger Ben Affleck.
2 He's The King Of Impressions
While all actors can bring a character to life, not all of them are that skilled at impersonating particular people, and getting everything from their voice to their mannerisms right.
Apparently, Affleck is the master of impressions, and ends up picking one co-star on each project he works on to study them.
It likely helps him keep his acting skills sharp, and it's probably just a lot of fun. In fact, his impressions are so good that when he impersonated Morgan Freeman when they were working on The Sum of All Fears together, Freeman got so freaked out about the accuracy of the impression that he told Ben Affleck he'd kill him if he ever did it again. Crazy!
1 He Won The California State Poker Championships In 2004
There are plenty of celebrities who have an interest in poker, and have appeared in special editions of tournaments, but Ben Affleck is actually the real deal. In fact, if he wasn't a successful actor, he could probably pursue a job as a professional poker player. Back in 2004, he actually ended up winning the California State Poker Championship, taking away a pot of $356,000. Obviously, the winnings aren't as important to him as they may be to other participants—for Affleck, it's probably more about the actual title. Still, it's crazy that he's so good at so many different things, from acting to writing to poker!
Sources: Thrillist, IMDB