Ben There, Done That
Ben Affleck enjoys his heartthrob status during a recent visit to MTV's TRL. "I've come to a crossroads," Affleck says of his career. "For a long time, I wanted to prove some success to somebody, or I was afraid everything would go away."
Affleck and Daredevil costar Jennifer Garner snuggle up during a 2003 charity event. Though they were just friends at the time, the two reconnected in August when Affleck filmed a cameo in Garner's upcoming spin-off film, Elektra, due in January. He has since been spotted leaving her L.A. home, and the two were seen at a Starbucks in Savannah, Ga. (near Affleck's estate there), over Labor Day weekend.
All bets are on: Affleck raises the stakes during a poker game at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas in April. At his side is poker coach Annie Duke, a top-ranked female player. She must have taught him well – the actor won $356,000 at the California State Poker Championship in June. Yet Affleck says he likes poker for its "psychological aspects," not the money.
Affleck shows his political side at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in August. He wasn't content to just put in some face time on TV: The actor met with Massachusetts delegates to discuss Republican tax proposals, caucused with New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and talked politics with Larry King on CNN.
A bearded Affleck and best friend Matt Damon meet and greet at a July event in Hollywood announcing the winners of the third Project Greenlight contest. (The series will air on Bravo in 2005.) In January, Affleck – who plans to write a new screenplay with Damon – told potential contestants that commercial is the way to go: "If you had sex with a pie, we want your movie."
The actor pokes fun at the post-Bennifer media firestorm while hosting Saturday Night Live in March. During his monologue, Affleck showed off T-shirts emblazoned with other potential hook-ups (including Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen). He joked that though the Bennifer shirts he had ordered arrived after he and Jennifer Lopez broke up, "I got my bases covered for the next time."
Affleck can often be found out and about doing everyday things, like pumping gas in West Hollywood on Sept. 24 (left) and making a purchase at a 7-Eleven in Santa Monica on Sept. 15 (right). Though he's no longer sporting the slick look he cultivated during his Bennifer days, he is getting fit with L.A. trainer Gunnar Peterson. "He's eating well," a source told PEOPLE, "and looking great."
Earlier this year, Affleck made the media rounds, subbing for Kelly Ripa as cohost on Live with Regis and Kelly (top) and chatting with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show (bottom). He also endured good-natured ribbing about his box-office flop Gigli. "He has a very good sense of humor about himself," says Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey.
Affleck mugs for a tiny fan in Wheeling, W. Va., in July. When he's not working, the actor enjoys spending time at his $7 million, 50-acre estate on Georgia's Hampton Island. "It's quiet and meditative for me," he says. "People there have a very strong sense about people's privacy – which I like."
HE GOT GAME
Affleck and then-girlfriend Enza Sambataro, a Boston television ad-sales exec he met at a charity bowling tournament, show their team spirit at a Boston Red Sox-Oakland A's game earlier this year. After the couple broke up in August, Sambataro admitted that dating a celebrity wasn't easy: "Living that life is not me. I'd rather have my own sanity and private life."
Ardent Democrat Affleck shows his support for John Kerry and John Edwards at a rally in Wheeling, W. Va., in July. As for any political aspirations of his own, Affleck isn't quite sure. "It's a tough life, you know," he says. "I think if the entertainment press is tough on me now, I can't imagine what it would be like if I had a political agenda."