With the release of The Accountant in cinemas this week Ben Affleck further cemented his legacy as one of Hollywood’s true megastars. The figurehead of a certain billion-dollar Bat franchise, a two-time Academy Award winner – Best picture – Argo – Best Original Screenplay – Good Will Hunting.
From Indie Darling to Hollywood Starling
Affleck truly stands at the top of the mountain as an A–list juggernaut. This achievement is even more astonishing when you consider in 2003 Affleck had just flopped massively in another superhero film Daredevil – his second box office disaster in two years after Pearl Harbor. Affleck’s career as Hollywood royalty at the time seemed done for, so what changed?
Ben Affleck’s talent as an artist was evident long before he became the more reliable screen presence we see today. After the success of Good Will Hunting, Affleck and childhood friend Matt Damon would both see their careers catapult. Affleck, in particular, became inundated with offers – subsequently appearing in 15 films from 1998–2002. This extreme overexposure resulted in burnout and Affleck–mania seemed to be dead in the water. From the years 2006–2009 Hollywood’s leading man completely vanished from our screens and didn’t appear in a single movie during that period. How ironic then, that a man who was once deemed People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, would see his career revitalized by a role taken behind the camera, as a director.
Gone Baby Gone
With the release of Gone Baby Gone in 2007, Affleck would take his first plunge into directing – a medium that would see a return to the critical acclaim afforded to him – for the first time since Good Will Hunting. An Affleck of a different name would take center stage this time, however, as his brother Casey took the lead role – with Ben happy to pull the strings behind the scenes for the adaption of Dennis Lehane’s neo–noir novel. It was this success that would open up Affleck to a whole new legion of fans, or at the very least created a new sense of optimism for a once promising screenwriter whose career had become besieged by one vapid release after another by that point.
Affleck followed up the success of Gone Baby Gone 3 years later with the crime thriller The Town. Affleck would not only direct and write this movie but also cast himself in the lead role – proving that he had finally become a master technician in all aspects of filmmaking. A statement that would further be supported with the release of his most critically acclaimed film to date Argo two years later.
Written by, directed by and starring Ben Affleck – Argo is the film that would bag him his second Academy Award (his first for directing)? At this point not only had Affleck reinvigorated his career, for the first time he was completely in the driving seat of it. As an Academy Award-winning director he now had the clout to choose any role he wanted – not to mention having the power and the skills to create projects from scratch. Which would make his next career decision all the more fascinating and controversial?
BATFLECK BEGINS – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Perhaps the allure of the caped crusader was too much to resist or the now confirmed rumor of a Ben Affleck-directed Batman film too much to turn down. But Affleck’s decision to commit himself to the DC franchise for the foreseeable future seems a constraining one. Especially when you consider Affleck seems to have worked so hard to establish himself as an independent voice of cinema within the last decade. With two new directorial features getting released in the near future, it will be compelling to see how long Affleck will be able to balance his artistic tendencies while also being at the helm of multimillion dollar franchise.
The Accountant, directed by Gavin O’Connor and written by Bill Dubuque, is in UK cinemas November 4th.
Originally published on Oct 30, 2016 for Flavourmag.