Ben Affleck and Saturday Night Live producer Lindsay Shookus made their relationship public when they were spotted grabbing dinner Thursday in L.A. — but the two have known each other for years, and were close before their respective divorces, according to multiple sources.
A five-time host of SNL, Affleck last appeared on the show in May 2013. The next month, onlookers spotted Affleck and Shookus acting flirty at The Heat premiere afterparty in New York City at the Stone Rose lounge, chatting and laughing at the bar. “He definitely looked interested in her,” a partygoer told PEOPLE at the time. The two later left together with other friends and headed to the nearby Mandarin Oriental hotel bar.
Around then, and over the past few years, “Whenever he was on Fallon, he would go visit her at SNL,” says another source. “They were both married at the time, but there was definitely a flirtation.”
Still, a source who knows Affleck, 44, and Shookus, 37, maintains the romance is “relatively new,” the source says. “They’ve known each other for a long time. Marriages break up for a number of reasons.”
Another source with knowledge of the situation says the couple were “just friends” at first. “The friendship’s been going on for a very long time but this is newer waters for them. They’ve been trying to take it slow but it’s progressing quickly. Their feelings are strong.”
Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced their separation in 2015 after over a decade of marriage and filed for divorce this past April. They have continued to closely co-parent their three children — Violet, 11, Seraphina, 8, and Samuel, 5.
Shookus was previously married to then-fellow SNL producer Kevin Miller in 2010 before splitting a few years ago. They share one child.
“They’re both really good friends still,” the source close to the situation says. “They’re both good, devoted parents. Their split was very amicable.”
- WITH REPORTING BY JANINE RUBENSTEIN