Ben Affleck has proven throughout the course of his career his versatility to fit into almost any role, and that includes behind the camera. With a pronounced interest in acting from an early age, his screen debut was in the 1981 independent film The Dark End of the Streetyet his biggest success back then was starring in The Voyage of the Mimiin 1984. During the 90s, he was able to establish himself as an actor and took part in several films portraying different characters that were generally still high school students.
Although his first starring role was in Glory Dazea 1995 comedy-drama directed by Rich Wilkes, there is no doubt that his most important production at the time, and the one that propelled him to stardom, was Good Will Hunting, the 1997 film in which he starred and co-wrote the screenplay with Matt Damon, subsequently winning an Oscar for Best Screenplay. His relationship with Damon went way back: the two met as children and grew to be inseparable friends, participating in several films together, both as actors and writers. As a matter of fact, per Varietythey are currently working together on a film about Michael Jordan’s deal with Nike, a production they will write, produce and star in.
Despite Affleck’s breakthrough after Good Will Huntingwhich led him to star in a string of blockbusters, his career took a downturn after 2003, partially due to the overexposure of his private life by the media, and also because he starred in several films that fared poorly at the box office and with critics: Gigli, Paycheck, Jersey Girl, Surviving Christmas, Man About Timeand Smokin ‘Aces. Following that bad streak, the actor took the courage to try his hand at different roles behind the camera, and in 2007, he had his acclaimed directorial debut with Gone Baby Goneearning him a place among the greatest actors turned directors in the film industry. Of course, Affleck never abandoned his love for acting, and continued starring in hits such as The Town, Argoand Gone Girl, among many others. His latest production to date was the 2022 film Deep Water, Adrian Lyne’s film in which he co-stars with Ana de Armas. This article will take a look back at some of the best 90s movies that launched this now established actor into the spotlight.
8 School ties
This 1992 movie had the distinction of bringing together four actors who, just a few years later, would become Hollywood superstars: Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Chris O’Donnell. In School Ties, Fraser stars as David Greene, a middle-class teenager who lands a scholarship to a prestigious school for his athletic prowess. He quickly becomes the talk of the school, making many friends and even charming several girls. However, there is one thing David is reluctant to reveal, which is that he is Jewish. Once this information is brought to light, the young man will have to face reprisals from his new friends and admirers, all of whom are extremely anti-Semitic.
Armageddon is a 1998 film directed by Michael Bay and starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Buscemi, and Owen Wilson, among other stars. A rare phenomenon in the movie industry happened with this production: critical reviews were terrible, but the audience was delighted with the story of the astronauts and drillers who have to travel to space in order to save the world. The critics found it uninteresting, noisy, and predictable, largely condemning Bay for his filmmaking choices. Yet, because of the audience, Armageddon‘s release only boosted the careers of each of the cast members and, over the years, the movie turned into a cinema classic.
The acting duo of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck teamed up once again in 1999 to star in Dogma, a Kevin Smith comedy with several religious references. In this movie, Bartleby and Loki are two angels who have been expelled from heaven by God and are forced to stay in Wisconsin. However, the angel of death offers them a possible solution to return to heaven, although it would imply the destruction of the universe. Therefore, an envoy of Jesus is entrusted with the mission to stop this couple of angels, and she will count on the help of some allies. The cast is completed by Alan Rickman, Linda Fiorentino, Chris Rock, and Salma Hayek, among others. A fun fact about this movie is that it was quite controversial in its time and received the repudiation of some groups close to the Catholic Church, therefore the premiere date had to be rescheduled a few times.
5 Going All The Way
Going All The Way is a film by Mark Pellington based on Dan Wakefield’s novel of the same name that features Jeremy Davies, Ben Affleck, Amy Locane, Rachel Weisz, and Rose McGowan. In this production, Sonny is a young man coming home from the Korean War and meets Gunner, a former classmate also in the army, on the train. During the trip, they both share some memories that lead them to establish a bond that they carry on once they arrive in Indianapolis, where they start a quest to achieve happiness and find true love.
4 Chasing Amy
The 1997 film Chasing Amy was inspired by a personal experience of Kevin Smith, the director of this production, with Guinevere Turner. In this movie, Ben Affleck stars as Holden McNeil, a young man working on his own independent comic book, which becomes very successful. Eventually, Holden meets Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), another comic book creator who makes him fall in love at first sight. Upon discovering that Alyssa is a lesbian woman, Holden tries to form a friendship bond to get to know her better, though he quickly realizes that his deep feelings for her were not going to vanish so easily.
3 Dazed and Confused
Dazed and Confused is a movie that, upon its release, did not receive great reviews or box office takings, but over the years, it managed to establish a reputation as a cult film. Directed by Richard Linklater, this production portrays the last day of the school year at Lee High School and the students’ mixed emotions, both those who are transitioning and those who are graduating, who take advantage of that last day to harass younger students and party hard. In this film, Ben Affleck has a small role as Fred O’Bannion, a rude student who is repeating his last year. Rounding out the cast are Jason London, Matthew McConaughey, Wiley Wiggins, and Rory Cochrane, among many others. Renée Zellweger is also featured in this film as Nesi White, but was not credited.
2 Shakespeare in Love
Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow star in this 1998 film as William Shakespeare and Lady Viola de Lesseps during the time when the playwright was working on Romeo and Juliet. Although the characters in this film are based on real people, most of the plot is fictional, but it has nevertheless earned the respect of critics and audiences alike, winning seven Oscars, four BAFTA Awards, and three Golden Globes. Ben Affleck took part in this production as Ned Alleyn, a rather egocentric and arrogant actor. The cast of Shakespeare In Love also featured international actors such as Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Judi Dench, and Imelda Staunton, among others.
1 Good Will Hunting
This 1997 film ranks at the top of this list, not only for its excellent reception by critics and audiences, but also for being the movie from that decade that turned Ben Affleck from a young up-and-comer into a rising star. Good Will Hunting follows the story of Will (Matt Damon), a young prodigy who works as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When Professor Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) discovers this boy’s skills, he decides to help him turn his life around. This dramatic movie garnered a great number of award nominations, including nine Oscar nominations, out of which it won Best Original Screenplay for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and Best Supporting Actor for Robin Williams.