23 Weird Things You Didn't Know About Ben Affleck

Tony Barson Archive/WireImage/Getty Images
Tony Barson Archive/WireImage/Getty Images

There have been a lot of incarnations of Ben Affleck. First there was Good Will Hunting Ben Affleck, the fresh-faced Bostonian kid who won an Oscar for his collaboration with pal Matt Damon. Then there was "Bennifer" Ben Affleck, whose very public coupling with Jennifer Lopez and subsequent series of cinematic flops (remember Gigli?!) quickly plummeted his stock. And now we have Comeback Ben Affleck, reinvented as one of Hollywood's hottest (see: the Oscar-winning Argo) and our latest Batman.

Despite his decades as a tabloid fixture, there's plenty of lesser-known trivia you might not know about America's sweetheart-turned-pariah-turned-sweetheart again. Let's take a look:

1. He's named after a Holocaust survivor

"Ben Affleck" is his white-bread Leading Man name -- his full name is Benjamin Geza Affleck-Boldt. That middle name honors a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who was a friend of the family. Boldt is Ben's mom's last name.

2. He got Matt Damon into the movie business

The origin of Affleck and Damon's friendship is pretty well documented: The pair met when Affleck was 8 and Damon was 10, and they lived two blocks away from one another while attending the same Cambridge, Massachusetts high schools. But in addition to palling around in Hahvahd Yahd, it was actually Affleck who led Damon to a future career in film. Affleck, already a child star with a few roles under his belt, introduced Damon to his New York agent, who then agreed to sign Damon as well.

3. He and Matt shared a bank account

... which they used to pool money to travel to New York City for auditions. Even as teens, Matt and Ben were already well on their way to becoming an old married couple.

4. He wrote a story about condoms for a teen sex guide

Long before details of his sexual exploits were plastered all over the tabloids, Affleck participated in a 1990 teen sex guide called Risky Times: How to be AIDS Smart and Stay Healthy, written by Damon's stepmother. It included a story about Affleck's first time buying condoms. "I felt so self-conscious and idiotic, but it was all over in a second," he recalls of the traumatic condom-buying experience. "I put them down and she looked at me with this stoic face and rang them up and put them in a bag, and I ran out of that store really fast!"

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5. He got his first acting gig at age 12

Affleck's first foray into stardom was on the 1984 PBS educational drama The Voyage of the Mimi.

6. And then starred in a Burger King commercial

What happened to his bowl cut?!

7. He and Matt were extras in Field of Dreams 

As teens, the two avid Red Sox fans were both extras in the Phil Alden Robinson movie's Fenway Park scenes. Later, working on The Sum of All Fears, Affleck reportedly greeted Robinson with, "Nice working with you again," which probably made the director pretty confused.

8. He kept Vince Vaughn from getting cast in Dazed and Confused -- twice

Not only did Affleck beat Vaughn for the role of school bully Fred O'Bannion, but Vaughn was also rejected from the role of Benny O'Donnell because director Richard Linklater thought he and Affleck looked too similar. Ouch.

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9. His dad was a janitor at Harvard

You probably already knew that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's big break, Good Will Hunting, was a personal project, but you may not realize just how personal. Turns out that both Affleck's dad and his college girlfriend did stints as janitors at the Ivy League institution, just like Damon's character in the movie. "Ben's dad was a janitor in the Yard and his girlfriend was a janitor in my dorm, so I was sensitive to kids making a mess," Damon explained in a 2013 speech at Harvard. "All of that was in the soup of Good Will Hunting."

10. He and Matt wrote a guy-on-guy sex scene for Good Will Hunting

In the original draft of Good Will Hunting, Affleck and Damon wrote a scene where two professors give each other blow jobs -- just to figure out if execs were actually reading their script. "We were so frustrated that Castle Rock wasn't reading the script, so we felt like we had to develop this test," Affleck told Boston Magazine back in 2013. "We started writing in screen direction like, 'Sean talks to Will and unloads his conscience.' And then: 'Will takes a moment and then gives Sean a soulful look and leans in and starts blowing him'... We would turn that in, and they wouldn't ever mention all those scenes where Sean and Will were jerking each other off."

Spice Girls and Ben Affleck on Jay Leno Show
<strong>Ben Affleck on <em>The Tonight Show With Jay Leno</em>&nbsp;with the Spice Girls in 1997 |&nbsp;</strong>Margaret Norton/NBC Universal/Getty Images

11. He couldn't get on board with the Goop lifestyle  

Before his much-publicized romance with Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck dated Shakespeare in Love actress and future wellness guru Gwyneth Paltrow, but their lifestyles didn't exactly jell. "The germ grass and meditation... that is not my thing," he said in an interview after their breakup. "I'd say that we're not together because Gwyneth is much more evolved than I am. She is closer to inner-peace, whereas I have a very difficult time sitting still."

12. Charlie Sheen made Ben go to rehab

When Affleck did a stint in rehab for alcohol abuse, back in 2001, he had the moral support of rehab veteran Charlie Sheen, who personally drove Affleck to Malibu's Promises rehab center to check him in. Later, Affleck followed his friend's example, and visited Lindsay Lohan in rehab in 2013 to give her a pep talk.

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Jennifer Lopez/YouTube

13. He plays a key (handsy!) role in a hip-hop video

Affleck cradling J.Lo's butt in her 2002 "Jenny From the Block" video was the peak of the celebrity union known as Bennifer -- and a career low for Affleck. (He has since called the year he dated J.Lo his "annus horribilis.")

14. He revealed his affair with J.Lo in a newspaper ad

"You have shown kindness, dedication, diligence, humility, graciousness of spirit, beauty in courage, great empathy, astonishing talent, real poise and true grace," Affleck wrote in an several-thousand-dollar full-page Hollywood Reporter ad in 2002, congratulating a then-married J.Lo on being named ShoWest's Female Star of the Year (also known as the most expensive pickup line ever). His gushy sign-off: "I only wish I were lucky enough to be in all your movies ... With love, respect and gratitude, Ben Affleck.''

15. And then she wrote a song about him

"I think God made you for me, a mix of passionate fidelities," J.Lo sings in her 2002 track "Dear Ben." "I write this song to let you know that you will always be my lust, my love, my man, my child, my friend, and my king." Didn't exactly work out that way, but we respect the sentiment.  

16. He has some seriously terrible tattoos

After his breakup with Jennifer Garner, Affleck shocked his exes by splurging on the quintessential midlife-crisis tattoo: a massive back piece of a phoenix rising from the flames. But this isn't Affleck's only ink mishap. Among many others, he has: a dolphin on his right hip, which he got trying to cover up an old tattoo of a high school girlfriend's name, and an unsightly splotch on his right shoulder from another bad decision. "I was 16," he says, blushing. "I got a fake ID, went out and got a tattoo of barbed wire. Then I decided I didn't like the tattoo," Affleck told the New York Times, explaining that he got roses etched over it. "I didn't like the roses, either."

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17. He and Matt Damon started a viral video war before it was cool 

After Sarah Silverman trolled her then-boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel with a viral video called "I'm Fucking Matt Damon," Kimmel and Affleck hit back with their own celebrity-studded video, "I'm Fucking Ben Affleck." Sadly, Silverman and Kimmel broke up -- but Damon and Affleck are still going strong.

18. He's played three different superheroes

In addition to his much-derided stint as Daredevil and his upcoming turn as Batman, Ben Affleck played actor George Reeve -- the star of the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman -- in the 2006 drama HollywoodlandThis makes him the first major actor to wear both Batman and Superman's costumes on screen.

19. He got busted counting cards at a casino

Not only is he an avid poker player, Affleck is such an avid gambler that he was actually banned from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in 2014 for card-counting at the high-rollers table. 

20. He was almost in Clueless

Ben Affleck + Cher Horowitz?! As if! In an oral history for Vanity Fair, the film's casting director, Carrie Frazier, explained that she tried to nab Affleck for the part of Cher's boyfriend and stepbrother, Josh, which eventually went to Paul Rudd.

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21. He had slave-owning relatives -- which he didn't want us to know about

Affleck's progressive credentials came under fire last year when it was revealed that he asked PBS genealogy show Finding Your Roots to suppress the discovery that he had a slave-owning ancestor. "I didn't want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed," Affleck wrote in an apology after the incident. "The very thought of it left a bad taste in my mouth."

22. He shut down Gone Girl production over a Yankees hat

Affleck is such a die-hard Red Sox fan that he refused David Fincher's request for his character to wear a Yankees hat in a Gone Girl scene. Affleck's hatred for the team runs so deep that Fincher ended up shutting down production for four days until a compromise was reached (they went with a Mets cap). "I said, 'David, I love you, I would do anything for you,'" Affleck told the New York Times. "'But I will not wear a Yankees hat. I just can't. I can't wear it because it's going to become a thing, David. I will never hear the end of it. I can't do it.' And I couldn't put it on my head." Seems a little wimpy when you consider that Leo ate a bison liver and slept in a horse, but we get it.

23. He rewrote the Batman v Superman script while wearing a Batsuit

While he didn't purposely don his Batsuit to get inspired during rewrite sessions (although we like to imagine that scenario), a source revealed to Us Weekly that Affleck was often found working on the script while dressed as the caped crusader. He “would go into wardrobe and get all suited up for the day in his Batman suit,” the source said. “Then he would sit around reworking the script. Ben wasn’t thrilled with it and would find himself on multiple occasions fixing it the day of."

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Anna Silman is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. She is nostalgic for both Bennifer eras. Find her on Twitter: @annaesilman.