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    « First Draft - 'Daredevil: The Man Without Fear' | Main | Natalie Portman Out; Sandra Bullock In for Gravity »

    The Comeback of Ben Affleck

    Circa the year 2004.  Good Will Hunting and Academy Award winning screenwriter, Ben Affleck, is coming off another terrible year as both an actor and Hollywood celebrity.  First, his much publicized relationship with actress/singer Jennifer Lopez ("Bennifer"), comes to an end after a two-year engagement.  Along with this, Affleck had starred in not only one but two critical and commerical failures, the audience ignored, Jersey Girl, and the critically panned, Surviving Christmas.  All of this following the year of 2003, where the actor starred in three more poorly received films, the financially successful but critically trashed Daredevil, the legendarily atrociious Gigli, and the laughably bad, Paycheck.  Once hot as fire in the movie business, Affleck had seen his career go from an up and coming Hollywood talent, to a joke in both the standards of Tinseltown and movegoers alike.

    Recognizing the failed path his career had taken him, Affleck decided to start from scratch and rebuild his respectability as an actor, and unforseeingly, a director, from the ground up.  Starting off in the year 2005, Affleck did not appear in a single film, a healthy break for both his career and moviegoers who had grown tired of his celebrity.  Along with this, Affleck married his former Daredevil and Pearl Harbor co-star, Jennifer Garner, who he had began dating a year earlier.  The couple welcomed their first child that same year and the actor embraced a more low-key approach to his personal life.

    Then the year 2006 came, the beginning of the rebuilding process for Ben Affleck as the actor appeared in three films.  First, the small-scaled dramedy, Man About Town, which garnered positive reviews but made next to nothing at the box office.  Next, a cameo in his close friend, Kevin Smith's Clerks II and finally, a critically praised performance in the mystery-drama, Hollywoodland.  While none of these films lit up Hollywood, Affleck had chosen two very distinct starring roles, ones which varied greatly from the mindless action he had done before.

    2007 marked the turning of the tide for Affleck, not as an actor, but more-so, an artist.  While he appeared in the ensemble action flick, Smokin' Aces, it was his directorial debut that got Hollywood and moviegoers to notice Ben Affleck again.  Based off the novel of the same name, Gone Baby Gone tells the story of two private investigators and their hunt for an abducted four-year-old girl from the neighborhood of Dorchester in Boston.  Affleck co-wrote the script along with casting his younger brother, Casey, in the lead role.  The film, released in the fall of that year, opened to critical acclaim, with many praising Affleck for untapped directorial talent.  Gone Baby Gone would go on to win a slew of awards that season as well as putting Ben Affleck back on the map of Hollywood.

    After the successful year of 2007, Affleck returned to his acting roots in 2008, filming roles in three films, all released the following year.  The first was the ensemble romantic-comedy, He's Just Not That Into You, which garnered mixed reviews, but was a successful hit at the box office.  Next, he appeared in the political thriller, State of Play, whilst a modest success at the box office, attained great reviews from critics.  Finally there was the Mike Judge comedy, Extract, in which Affleck played a supporting role unlike anything the actor had played before.  Most were impressed by the actor's surprisingly good comedic turn as a pot smoking bartender.  While 2009 was another stepping stone in the road to rebuilding Ben Affleck's career, it was the 'bridge' to the comeback that would come in 2010.

    Leading up to the release date of September 17th, Hollywood and audiences weren't really sure what to make of the Ben Affleck's second directorial effort, The Town.  Was it going to be a good crime thriller?  From the looks of it.  Would it score number 1 at the box office opening weekend?  Probably.  Would Ben Affleck succeed in his first leading role in a major movie in 6 years?  Not sure.  The Town was based off the Chuck Hogan novel, Prince of Theives, about a life-long bank robber in Charlestown, Massachusets, Doug MacRay, who attempts to change his life after getting romantically involed with the manager of a bank he and his friends robbed.  Affleck had put together quite a cast for the flick, not well-known but respected actress, Rebecca Hall, TV's Mad Men star, Jon Hamn, recent Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner, along with the always powerful Chris Cooper in a small but important role. 

    With the said, when The Town opened, it blew both critics and audiences away.  Many hailed it as one of the best films of the year, and praised the work done by Affleck as both an actor and especially, a director.  The film was number 1 at the box office two weeks in a row, and to this date, has grossed nearly 70 million domestically, and is probably heading north of the $100 million mark when all is said and done.  It is expected that the flick will get a ton of nominations come awards season, with many predictors pegging it as an Oscar favorite for Best Picture, and stongly, Best Director for Affleck.

    In the aftermath of the success of The Town, Ben Affleck's career is hotter maybe than it's ever been before.  Warner Bros. is practically in love with him as they offered him not only the new Superman film, but also the period-crime drama, Tales from the Gangster Squad (Affleck passed on both).  He also has a part in the next Terrence Malick film which is still untitled.  At this point, Affleck can do whatever he wants.  He's earned it.  With hard work, smart decisions, and the perservane to get back up when you're down, Ben Affleck has shown it's never impossible to rebuild your career, maybe better than ever.

    Reader Comments (2)

    I would say that Paycheck was at the very least a guilty pleasure, really not bad at all.

    10-7-2010 | Unregistered Commentertheoantichi

    I agree and would add that Jersey Girl was actually quite good.

    10-8-2010 | Unregistered CommenterUp Yours

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