Ben Affleck, one of Hollywood’s favorite leading actors, has remained as busy in 2013 as every other year of his storied career. Between work promoting the upcoming September release of “Runner Runner,” preproduction work on a movie adaptation of author Dennis Lehane’s “Live by Night,” and speculations about “Gone Girl” casting, Affleck has no shortage of projects to occupy his time. Add in his marriage to actress Jennifer Garner and three small children, and it’s a wonder the actor even has time to breathe these days. Driven by a lifelong interest in acting and in constant competition with childhood best friend and fellow Boston-area native Matt Damon, Affleck has shown what it means to squeeze every drop out of life on and off the big screen.
His next film, set in Costa Rica, illustrates how life on the Internet can be all-consuming. “Runner Runner” relies on Ben Affleck’s oft-praised ability to play barely likeable characters known for their cunning and cutthroat qualities. In this case, Affleck portrays Ivan Block, whose online gaming empire attracts the attention of both the government and broke college student Richie Furst, played by Justin Timberlake. Add in gorgeous female lead Gemma Arterton, last seen in “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” and the cast itself will be more than enough to draw fans to theaters around the world. Affleck has a full plate of release events beginning in early September to tout what looks to be his next blockbuster.
Other than work on movies in 2013, Affleck has kept busy with school. In June, Affleck received the prestigious Filmmaker of the Year award at UCLA’s annual film festival. He was also honored by the Directors Guild of America for his work with the film “Argo.” Just a few weeks earlier, Brown University bestowed an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree upon Affleck in acknowledgment of his work in the film industry and as a philanthropist. Ever in rivalry with Matt Damon, Affleck noted in his acceptance speech that he’d now pulled ahead of his best friend in academic accolades.
Outside of the screening room, Affleck has also kept busy with his family in 2013. Children Violet, Seraphina, and Samuel have been spotted out with their famous mother and father doing everything together from learning how to ride two-wheeled bikes to having adventures around town. In a recent interview, Affleck said, “Raising kids is the greatest thing I think a person, or at least I, could ever do in my life.” In a world where movie stars often spend long days on set and months away from families, it seems Affleck has learned how to balance all his priorities.
Right now, outside of summer fun with his family and promoting “Runner Runner,” speculation is rampant that Affleck is in negotiations to take the lead role in “Gone Girl,” an upcoming adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s extremely popular novel. Nearly as much chatter is going on in the blogosphere about the casting of this film as about the rampantly popular “Fifty Shades of Grey.” While the latter is still mired in gossip, it looks like “Gone Girl” is much closer to proceeding with a cast that includes Affleck as lead character Nick Dunne. In the book, Dunne is a husband-turned-suspected-killer whose wife has disappeared under suspicious circumstances. The role speaks to Affleck’s affinity for characters surrounded by mystery and misgivings, and if casting is finalized, shooting is expected to begin in the fall of 2013. Like “Runner Runner,” “Gone Girl” is a Twentieth Century Fox film and is expected to stay true to the style of the book, with author Flynn working side-by-side with director David Fincher on the final script.
If Affleck is signed on for “Gone Girl,” the schedule for his other upcoming film, “Live by Night” will get pushed back by a few months. Warner Brothers, the studio behind “Live by Night,” seems inclined to approve this change in timing, given the success Affleck brought as both a director and actor in 2012’s Oscar-winning “Argo.” Although preproduction began on “Live by Night” in June and could be interrupted by more than a few months by the filming of “Gone Girl,” a late 2014 release is still anticipated. Casting hasn’t yet begun for “Live by Night,” but it’s widely anticipated that Affleck will take one of the lead roles in addition to directing and producing the film. In addition, Affleck has worked side by side with writer Lehane on the screenplay adaptation.
With a beautiful family that’s the center of his universe, one movie set to release soon, a potentially huge casting announcement, and his next directorial opportunity on the horizon, Ben Affleck has many blessings to count in 2013. Contrary to the sticky and hard-to-like characters he often plays onscreen, however, Affleck seems to handle every aspect of his life with grace and humility. That’s part of why audiences continue to flock to his premieres twenty years after he first hit the big screen.