The Rise and Fall and Rise of Ben Affleck

Article excerpt

Byline: Caryn James

In the company men, Bobby Walker is a Porsche-driving golden boy laid off from his middle-management job. He smugly expects an easy landing somewhere, but the economy has other plans, which is how he ends up delivering one of the most wrenching lines in a movie that's full of them: "I'm a 37-year-old unemployed loser who can't support his family."

Writer-director John Wells surrounds Bobby with other all-too-real characters, including a senior manager (Chris Cooper) too old to start over and an exec whose conscience costs him his job (Tommy Lee Jones). But as the once-confident success who is forced to move his family back into his parents' house, it's Bobby who is the heart of this timely, poignant film.

Maybe that's because Ben Affleck, the 38-year-old actor who plays him, knows something about career free-fall. One day Affleck was picking up an Oscar, the next laughed off as a Hollywood loser. Now Affleck is being acclaimed not just for starring in The Company Men but for directing and acting in the explosive heist movie The Town. What's behind the rise and fall and rise of Ben Affleck? He can't blame the economy, unless you're talking about the bear market for jerks. Affleck's wounds were self-inflicted--bad career choices coupled with even worse personal ones. All of which makes his hard-won, self-made renaissance that much more amazing.

When he and Matt Damon won the Academy Award for writing Good Will Hunting in 1998, Affleck was considered the team's dumb half. The movie was, in fact, Ben and Matt's way of exerting control over their careers by writing juicy roles for themselves. It may have worked too well. …