Ben Affleck Soars to Sexy
"I don't need PEOPLE magazine to tell me he's the sexiest man alive," Lopez said this month. "The difference between me and PEOPLE magazine is that he'll still be the sexiest man alive in my eyes when he's 100 years old."
When most preteens were hitting the batting cages or chasing skirts, 12-year-old Ben Affleck was honing his acting chops. One of his first roles was as C.T.
Granville in the short-lived educational 1984 TV series The Voyage of the Mimi, which followed adventures aboard a research ship.
HIGH SCHOOL HOTTIE?
Looking more goofy than gorgeous, Affleck strikes a pose as a member of the Cambridge, Mass., Rindge amp Latin School Class of 1990. At the public high school, both Affleck and friend Matt Damon, a member of the class of 1992, "weren't considered cool kids," Damon's brother Kyle told PEOPLE this month. "They were drama geeks."
Saving the World
Affleck went beefcake in 1998's Armageddon. Director Michael Bay had his star's teeth capped and hired a trainer to bulk him up. The result? More than $500 million in worldwide earnings and a major career boost for Tinseltown's newest sex symbol.
Good Will Hunting also yielded Affleck a major romance – with Gwyneth Paltrow. After meeting at the film's 1997 premiere, the couple – who costarred in 1998's Shakespeare in Love and 2000's Bounce – dated on and off for two years. "In Gwyneth, he found a match of the minds," Forces of Nature director Bronwen Hughes told PEOPLE this month.
Although a major movie star, Affleck stays true to his working-class roots (mom Chris is a schoolteacher and dad Tim is a custodian). Between film roles during the 2000 presidential race, he campaigned for Vice President Al Gore at a midnight rally in Miami's South Beach.
Affleck dealt with the threat of nuclear war onscreen (as Jack Ryan in this year's The Sum of All Fears) – and offscreen as well. In June, he joined Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in calling for President Bush to support nuclear security legislation introduced to Congress that month.
Sorry girls, he's taken! Affleck has been linked with Courtney Love, Famke Janssen and Shoshonna Lonstein, but this year, J.Lo took him off the market. After meeting on the set of Gigli, the pair was spotted this summer kissing on both coasts. And this fall, Affleck made it official, presenting the twice-divorced Lopez with a Harry Winston pink diamond ring.
After dropping out of the University of Vermont – and later L.A.'s Occidental College – Ben joined the big leagues in 1992, going to bat with Damon (left) and Chris O'Donnell in School Ties, his first major feature film role.
In the mid-'90s, it was Affleck's skills as a writer that landed him a spot on the Hollywood map. Good Will Hunting, the script he and Damon began in high school, was sold for $600,000 and later made Oscar winners of its writers. The pair, who also starred in the movie, attended the 1998 ceremony with their moms.
He may have friends in high places, but Affleck also looks after the little guy. After befriending Joe Kindregan, who was watching Affleck film a scene from 1999's Forces of Nature at Washington's Dulles Airport, Affleck last year urged Congress to increase funding for research into ataxia-telangiectasia, a degenerative disease from which Kindregan suffers.
Ben isn't the only thespian in the family – his brother, Casey, is a Hollywood hitter in his own right, having starred in several films including last year's Ocean's Eleven and the recent American Pie series. The two, who are set to appear together in next year's Jersey Girl, ham it up at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.