Ben Affleck's greatest film roles | Virgin Media
Ben Affleck’s greatest film roles

Ben Affleck’s greatest film roles

Movies

Related

You’d think after going chin-to-chin with Superman earlier this year, Ben Affleck would fancy a bit of a break from the box office for a short while.  But fresh from donning Batman’s cowl, Affleck is back in cinemas this week balancing tax returns with belting bad guys as The Accountant: mild-mannered number-cruncher by day, deadly assassin by night.  A math savant with more affinity for spreadsheets than people, Affleck’s buff beancounter Christian Wolff uncovers a financial discrepancy at a major organisation which has him running for his life.  To celebrate the actor/director’s return to fighting form, we did our own audit of Affleck’s career to date…


Fred O’Bannion (Dazed & Confused, 1993)

‘Fah Q’? Oh, I geddit!

‘Fah Q’? Oh, I geddit!

Every school has one. A lunk-headed bully that genuinely enjoys laying on the pain to cover up his own insecurities. Affleck’s first major role, he’s essentially Dazed & Confused’s big bad, starting the last day of term revelling in the hazing ritual that allows him to paddle the asses of the incoming freshmen and ending it by getting a bucket of paint poured on him in revenge. 

Shannon Hamilton (Mallrats, 1995)

Shannen Doherty was unable to hold back her feelings about Ben’s hair

Shannen Doherty was unable to hold back her feelings about Ben’s hair

The start of a beautiful friendship: Affleck’s first movie for Kevin Smith saw him give it some convincing douchebag once again as the slick guy who runs the Fashionable Male clothing store. Shannon dislikes: the slackers who have “no buying agenda”; Likes: sex in ‘an uncomfortable place’ – and we’re not talking about the back of a Volkswagen. 

Holden McNeil (Chasing Amy, 1997)

This is weird, because in Gone Girl, Affleck literally is chasing Amy

This is weird, because in Gone Girl, Affleck literally is chasing Amy

Kevin Smith’s best movie gives Affleck his ‘moment’ with stardom. The actor gives the Bluntman & Chronic funnybook author honest layers of sweetness, sensitivity, wit and naïve overconfidence as he careens haphazardly through the ego-minefield of ‘dating a sexually experienced bi-babe’ and inevitably ends up in pieces. 

Chuckie Sullivan (Good Will Hunting, 1997)

How’d you like them apples?

How’d you like them apples?

If you’ve just written one of the best scripts of the ’90s, why wouldn’t you want to take a plum role it? Affleck plays Hunting’s rough-neck pal, quietly willing his genius best bud onto better things, a role that put him – and his writing abilities - under Hollywood’s collective nose. They liked those apples a lot. 

AJ Frost (Armageddon, 1998)

Wouldn’t it have just ben easier to teach astronauts how to drill instead?

Wouldn’t it have just ben easier to teach astronauts how to drill instead?

The chin has landed. The actor makes the astro-leap from indie cool to mainstream stardom in Michael Bay’s mega-blockbuster about space-miners saving the Earth, playing the romantic lead – memorably giving Liv Tyler an oiling – and looking every inch the future big action hero. 

Ned Alleyn (Shakespeare in Love, 1999)

But soft! What bat light through yonder window breaks?

But soft! What bat light through yonder window breaks?

As Miramax’s studios new golden boy, Affleck dutifully turned up for a barrel-chested cameo in Shakespeare in Love – starring his then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow – and practically rugby tackles the whole movie. As the leading thesp-of-the-day, Affleck offsets Alleyn’s actorly self-regard with a wry affection for his star-crossed scribe. 

Jim Younger (Boiler Room, 2000)

He’s Batman.  Is there a problem?

He’s Batman. Is there a problem?

“You will make $1 million within three years.” Affleck gets his one-shot, drop-the-mic cameo as the flash broker trainer in Boiler Room, matter-of-factly bragging about his house and car and casually dumping any talent that doesn’t fit into the company vision. In an oh-so movie-literate flick, this is his Alec Baldwin-Glengarry Glen Ross moment. 

Jack Ryan (The Sum of all Fears, 2002)

You are now reading this caption in Morgan Freeman’s voice

You are now reading this caption in Morgan Freeman’s voice

Of all the Jack Ryan movies, Affleck’s is easily the most underrated. A prequel to the previous Baldwin and Ford installments, Affleck gives his earnest CIA-newbie a savvy sharpness to undercut his greeness. Memo to studios: releasing a movie about a cataclysmic terrorist attack soon after 9/11 isn’t a great idea. 

Jack Dupree (Smoking Aces, 2006)

I’d love to stay and chat, but I really must dash…

I’d love to stay and chat, but I really must dash…

Worthy of a mention, not just for the awesome set of facial fuzz that frames that legendary jaw, but more so for the nifty bit of stunt casting: arguably the biggest highest ranking card in Smoking Aces’ huge, starry deck, Affleck’s grizzled bail bondsman finds himself played within seconds by a trio of Neo-Nazis. Fold. 

George Reeves (Hollywoodland, 2006)

“I’m…Batman?”

“I’m…Batman?”

Before he was Batman, Affleck was Superman… kinda. At the height of his tabloid notoriety, Affleck delivered his best performance as the troubled, bitter George Reeves – TV’s original 1950s Superman, tortured by type casting. It’s a naggingly sad performance, layered with pathos, and gives a superhuman finger to his critics.

Stephen Collins (State of Play, 2009)

All the president’s men couldn’t keep Affleck away from this political thriller

All the president’s men couldn’t keep Affleck away from this political thriller

Earnest political firebrand or ambitious, duplicitous love-rat? The archetypal Affleck role has a mix of high flying success undercut by hidden flaws, so it’s easy to see why he easily nailed down the slippery centre of this Washington thriller – the congressman engulfed by scandal after his lover is murdered. 

Doug MacRay (The Town, 2010)

“I’m gahna be a dahk Batman.  Wicked dahk”

“I’m gahna be a dahk Batman. Wicked dahk”

Jeremy Renner might steal the film, but Affleck anchors it. Having sat out his excellent directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, Affleck does triple duties in The Town: writer, director and starring too, as the conflicted Boston bank robber failing to disentangle himself from the criminal knots that threaten to leave him in cuffs or a coffin.

Tony Mendez (Argo, 2012)

Argo and see this movie straight away

Argo and see this movie straight away

Smashing an old-school hero role with a straight bat, Affleck hits it out the park and all the way to the Academy Awards. His CIA operative is the cool head on the ground during the outrageous – and very true – story of sneaking out of Iran under the guise of being a film crew. Decent, charming and suitably intense, he’s the solid spine of his Oscar-winner. 

Neil (To The Wonder, 2012)

The Wonder of Affleck

The Wonder of Affleck

Sheen. Weisz. Chastain. Many big names ended up on the cutting room floor of Terrence Malick’s philosophical meander through love, religion and forgiveness, with the arty director instead hazily focusing the film around the near-mute Affleck – his quiet dignity and expressive features pull the whole movie together. 

Nick Dunne (Gone Girl, 2014)

Affleck absolutely killed it in his Gone Girl role (no spoilers)

Affleck absolutely killed it in his Gone Girl role (no spoilers)

Could smug philandering jerk Nick Dunne have murdered his missing wife? Playing the darker notes of his public image, the actor veers into dislikable territory. As Nick’s charming facade quickly crumbles, it exposes long-rotten foundations underneath – bruised ego, bitter disappointments and ferocious male pride – making the movie’s central question very, very believable. 

Bruce Wayne/ Batman (Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, 2016)

If the cowl fits

If the cowl fits

Recommended for you

Two things we love