Ben Affleck skyrocketed to success as the co-writer and star of 1997’s Good Will Hunting. Since then, the next Caped Crusader, 42, has weathered public breakups, box-office bombs and critical praise and accolades alike. Now he’s dealing with the end of his 10-year marriage to Jennifer Garner. Here’s a look back at the ups and downs of the Oscar winner’s life in the spotlight:
Becoming a Household Name
The Boston-reared star kicked off his career early as a child actor on PBS educational shows. His pre-fame days also included a gig in a 1989 Burger King commercial.
The actor then scored bit parts – often as a high school bully – in films including Dazed and Confused before befriending writer-director Kevin Smith on the set of 1995’s Mallrats. In 1997, Smith cast Affleck in his breakthrough lead role in the indie rom-com Chasing Amy.
That same year, the movie Affleck had been laboring on for five years with best friend Matt Damon finally hit theaters. Good Will Hunting was a smash hit.
The Bennifer Downfall
Now a certified leading man thanks to Pearl Harbor and Armageddon, Affleck began dating fellow superstar Jennifer Lopez in 2002. The high-profile couple, notoriously nicknamed Bennifer, dominated the spotlight. But the Sexiest Man Alive‘s relationship with J.Lo was not meant to be, and the pair called off their nuptials in a headline-making move a mere four days before their planned 2003 wedding.
While his personal life endured heavy media scrutiny, Affleck’s professional career also hit a rough patch. His first turn as a superhero, in 2003’s Daredevil, failed to impress critics, and Affleck later called it “the only movie I actually regret” in an interview with Playboy. That same year, Bennifer hit the big screen in Gigli, which was widely derided by critics and fans alike.
Finding Love and Rebuilding a Career
Affleck took a couple of years off from acting following Daredevil and Gigli. During that time he married Garner, his Daredevil costar.
The star rebooted his career in 2007 with his much-lauded directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone.
Affleck credited Garner with giving him the “foundation” to execute his career resurgence, including a well-reviewed role in 2014’s hit Gone Girl. “She is leaps and bounds the most important person to me in that respect. Over the past 10 years she has allowed me to have a stable home life while accomplishing my professional goals,” Affleck said of his wife in 2013. By that time the couple had three children, Samuel, now 3, Violet, 9, and Seraphina, 6.
Meanwhile, rumors swirled that Affleck’s affinity for gambling had put a strain on his marriage with Garner. The future Batman was banned from playing blackjack at a Las Vegas casino amid reports of card counting.
Advocating by His Wife’s Side
Earlier this year, it seemed Garner and Affleck had put their troubles behind them. The actress and daughter Violet proudly accompanied her husband to a Senate hearing where Affleck testified on his work with the Eastern Congo Initiative, a development grant and advocacy nonprofit he co-founded in 2010.
In recent months, the parents spent lengthy periods apart, especially while Affleck worked on Batman v Superman. But they were occasionally spotted together on Starbucks runs and school pick-up.