Up until the mid-’00s, it appeared as though Ben Affleck could do no wrong. After making his name as a Kevin Smith regular, the chisel-jawed actor picked up a Best Screenplay Oscar with his best bud Matt Damon for “Good Will Hunting,” fronted blockbuster hits “Armageddon” and “Pearl Harbor” and became a tabloid darling thanks to his high-profile relationship with “Shakespeare in Love” co-star Gwyneth Paltrow.
But after a string of flops, including the notorious “Gigli,” and Affleck’s showboating romance with Jennifer Lopez, the press began to turn against its one-time golden boy. And Affleck has since given them plenty of ammunition, too.
Indeed, the previously squeak-clean heartthrob has found himself in enough hot water of the years to almost singlehandedly keep the tabloid presses running. He’s even one of the many Hollywood hotshots to have gotten caught up in the #MeToo movement. Here’s a look at Affleck’s most controversial moments ever.
Ben Affleck admitted he 'acted inappropriately' towards Hilarie Burton
Ben Affleck’s condemnation of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein inadvertently landed the “Live By Night” star in trouble himself. In an official statement, the actor had expressed his shock and disdain over the sexual abuse allegations which helped to spark the #MeToo movement. But in response, a Twitter user alerted everyone to Affleck’s own history of harassment.
“[He] grabbed Hilarie Burton’s breasts on TRL once,” the tweet began, as reported by The Washington Times. “Everyone forgot though.” However, Burton soon proved that wasn’t the case when she replied, “I didn’t forget.” The “Total Request Live” host then linked to a clip featuring Affleck asking her, “How old are you, 19?” on the MTV show. And in response to the Weinstein victims who’d come forward, she tweeted, “Girls. I’m so impressed with you brave ones. I had to laugh back then so I wouldn’t cry. Sending love.”
Affleck later took to the same platform to express his remorse for the incident: “I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize.” As quoted by E!, Burton later recalled her trauma in her 2020 book, “The Rural Diaries”: “I was 19, and I’d taken it on the chin and kept going. One of MTV’s top brass called me and said, ‘You handled that so well.’ I didn’t realize that I was being groomed — trained to be a good girl and a good sport, someone who would put up with much worse behavior.”
Talking about sexual harassment was a minefield for Ben Affleck
Shortly after he faced several accusations of sexual harassment in the wake of the #MeToo movement, Ben Affleck was forced to hit the promotional trail for “Justice League.” And as you’d expect, the conversation got a little awkward on several occasions.
While appearing on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in 2017, Affleck was asked directly about the allegations made by former “Total Request Live” host Hilarie Burton. Clearly uncomfortable, the then-Batman replied, “What I was accused of by a woman was of touching her breast while I gave her a hug. I don’t remember it, but I absolutely apologized for it. I certainly don’t think she’s lying or making it up.”
Decider also reported that just days earlier, Affleck had misjudged the mood entirely when he was asked about the prospect of Supergirl joining the Justice League by MTV UK presenter Sophie Boyden. “Are you following the news at all?” he joked to a painful silence from the rest of his superhero movie castmates. Affleck was accused by some viewers of trivializing the important issue of sexual harassment.
Ben Affleck had a sobriety setback in public
More than 12 months after completing a 40-day stint in rehab to treat his alcohol addiction, Ben Affleck took to Instagram to celebrate his continuing recovery. Just 24 hours later, however, the “State of Play” star was captured on paparazzi video, looking pretty intoxicated.
In the video posted by TMZ, Affleck can be seen staggering and stumbling after exiting a Halloween bash at Los Angeles’ Kimpton La Peer Hotel. Dressed in a black suit and white skeleton mask, the actor and a mystery lady who he wraps his arms around are filmed looking for their ride. But when the latter walks directly toward it, the former is forced to hold onto another SUV’s taillight to avoid falling backward. After managing to steady himself, the two-time Oscar winner eventually makes it into his vehicle’s backseat.
The next morning, TMZ ambushed Affleck on the street outside ex-wife Jennifer Garner’s house, where the star admitted that he’d fallen off the wagon. “You know, it happens. Just slipped. But I’m not going to let it derail me,” he said. In a candid interview with The Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter” podcast in 2021, Affleck revealed that he was now on the right path: “I’ve been sober for a while now, and I feel really good — as healthy and good as I’ve ever felt.”
TV host Anne-Marie Losique completely debunked this Ben Affleck controversy
In the wake of Ben Affleck’s statement about the Harvey Weinstein allegations, and the reminder of his questionable behavior on “Total Request Live,” another incriminating video of the “Gone Girl” star resurfaced on social media. On this occasion, it was the time he appeared to get a little too handsy with Canadian TV personality Anne-Marie Losique.
While on the promotional trail for rom-com “Jersey Girl” in 2004, Affleck asked Losique to sit on his lap before making several suggestive remarks, including, “You usually show a lot more cleavage than this. What’s the story? Why are you covering it up today?” He also fondles the interviewer’s breasts, comparing them to “two giant stones” and asks her whether she has a boyfriend.
However, Affleck’s conduct was defended 13 years later by an unlikely source. Indeed, Losique herself told The Hollywood Reporter that the old clip had been taken entirely out of context: “You have to understand that we have done dozens and dozens of interviews like that. It was for a show I was producing, so I was not at all a victim. When the cameras rolled, we would start to do that game. As soon as it stopped rolling, there was none of that. He never touched me in any improper way. He was very respectful, I must say.”
Yet another groping scandal for Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck’s involvement in the #MeToo movement appeared to deepen when another woman accused the “Hollywoodland” star of groping her at an awards bash three years earlier. Annamarie Tendler, a make-up artist and soon-to-be ex-wife of stand-up comic John Mulaney, took to Twitter in response to the similar claims made by “Total Request Live” host Hilarie Burton.
“I would also love to get an apology from Ben Affleck who grabbed my a** at a Golden Globes party in 2014,” Tendler recalled (via Vanity Fair). “He walked by me, cupped my butt and pressed his finger into my crack. I guess he tried to play it like he was politely moving me out of the way and oops touched my butt instead of my lower back?”
Tendler, whose resume includes various Mulaney specials and CollegeHumor originals, went on to add, “Like most women in these situations I didn’t say anything but I have thought a lot about what I’d say if I ever saw him again.” The makeup artist’s claims were backed up by Jen Statsky, a comedy writer, who tweeted (via E!) in response, “I was also at this party and *multiple* friends had this same exact experience.” But whereas Affleck later apologized for his behavior toward Burton, he’s remained quiet about Tendler’s remarks, as of this writing.
Ben Affleck admits to counting cards
In 2014, Ben Affleck was banned from playing blackjack at Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel and Casino after he was discovered to have been counting cards. But if you were expecting the “Gone Baby Gone” director to deny all knowledge of the frowned-upon but not illegal practice, think again. In fact, Affleck seems quite proud of the fact that he adopted the skill.
When asked about the incident in an interview with Details later that same year, the actor freely admitted, “That is true. I took some time to learn the game and became a decent blackjack player. And once I became decent, the casinos asked me not to play blackjack. I mean the fact that being good at the game is against the rules at a casino should tell you something about a casino.”
But Affleck, who played the owner of an online betting empire in “Runner Runner” the year previously, was keen to point out that contrary to reports, he doesn’t have a gambling problem: “I don’t bet on football games, and I don’t gamble at all, really, outside of that. But I knew with blackjack that there’s a way you can improve your odds. And so I started trying to learn. And then I just got to a point in my life where I’m like, ‘If I’m going to do something, I’m going to try and do it really well.'”
The so called 'nannygate' controversy was not a good look for Ben Affleck
After much speculation and denial, Jennifer Garner confirmed in 2016 that her estranged hubby Ben Affleck did indeed have an affair with Christine Ouzounian, their children’s nanny. The “Alias” star came clean in an interview with Vanity Fair eight months after announcing that her marriage was officially over.
Garner insisted that she and Affleck had already been separated for quite some time when he became romantically involved with Ouzounian. However, she did acknowledge that her ex displayed “bad judgment” in his choice of new partner: “Yes. It’s not great for your kids for [a nanny] to disappear from their lives. I have had to have conversations [with my children] about the meaning of scandal.”
Luckily for Affleck, Garner doesn’t appear to be one for holding grudges. She added, “People have pain — they do regrettable things, they feel shame, and shame equals pain. No one needs to hate him for me. I don’t hate him. Certainly we don’t have to beat the guy up. Don’t worry — my eyes were wide open during the marriage. I’m taking good care of myself.”
Ben Affleck tried to conceal family's racist past
Ben Affleck no doubt regretted signing up to take part in the PBS series “Finding Your Roots” when it was discovered that his ancestors were slave owners. And as leaked emails from the Sony hacking scandal show, the actor immediately attempted to cover up this problematic part of his family tree.
Affleck later admitted on Facebook (via Digital Spy) that he’d asked Henry ‘Skip’ Gates Jr., a Harvard professor and the show’s executive producer, to entirely ignore his family’s history of slavery in the final edit: “I felt embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves … We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery.”
The leaked emails show that Gates initially had reservations about such a form of censorship before being persuaded by Michael Lynton, the chairman of Sony. But in a statement (via the Daily Mail), the former later took responsibility for concealing Affleck’s true lineage in a show which had previously disclosed Anderson Cooper, Ken Burns, and Derek Jeter’s similar genealogy: “Ultimately, I maintain editorial control on all of my projects and, with my producers, decide what will make for the most compelling program.”
Nivine, why did you unmatch Ben?
Being unmatched on a dating app is never a particularly nice feeling. But anyone who’s experienced this form of online rejection usually just keeps swiping right. Not Ben Affleck.
In 2021, TikTok user Nivine Jay captioned a short clip, “Thinking of the time I matched with Ben Affleck on Raya and thought it was fake so I unmatched him and he sent me a video on Instagram.” The video then shows the “Paycheck” star, who’s apparently been on the app since 2019, asking, “Nivine, why did you unmatch me? It’s me.”
As you can imagine, the footage soon went viral, with some viewers believing Affleck had acted a little stalker-ish by sliding into Jay’s DMs. However, the woman at the center of the story told E! that she had no problem with the actor’s conduct: “I’m seeing a lot of comments calling him a creep and l don’t think that’s fair. l wasn’t making fun of him in the video. I was making fun of myself for thinking he was a catfish and it was just supposed to be funny.”
Ben Affleck disses one of his own films
Back when every superhero film didn’t automatically make a billion dollars, Ben Affleck experienced one of many mid-’00s misfires as the leading man in “Daredevil.” In fact, the actor picked up the dreaded Worst Actor Razzie Award for his performance as the vigilante attorney Matt Murdock in a film the New York Post described as a “mind-numbing, would-be comic-book franchise, which often seems as blind as its hero — not to mention deaf and dumb.” Ouch.
And in 2016, no doubt much to the ire of director Mark Steven Johnson and the hundreds of fellow cast and crew members who worked tirelessly on the picture, Affleck joined the critical pile-on, too. Indeed, while appearing at The New York Times’ TimeTalks series, the actor revealed (via HuffPost) that he didn’t just dislike “Daredevil,” he “hated” it.
Affleck also explained that the film inspired him to take on the role of the Caped Crusader in “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice”: “Part of it was I wanted for once to get one of these movies and do it right.” Unfortunately for the Berkeley native, the general response to this superhero epic was even more scathing. In fact, whereas “Daredevil” has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 44 percent, “Dawn of Justice” stands at a lowly 29, with The Guardian slamming it as “153 minutes of a grown man whacking two dolls together.” Double ouch.
Ben Affleck is criticized for playing a Mexican-American
Ben Affleck’s second directorial effort, “Argo,” was a critically-acclaimed box office smash which even won the coveted Best Picture category at the 2013 Academy Awards. But not everyone was a fan. In fact, “Battlestar Galactica” star Edward James Olmos essentially claimed that Affleck was guilty of whitewashing after casting himself as a Mexican-American.
In a 2020 interview with Deadline, Olmos argued that the part of Tony Mendez, the real-life CIA operative who helped to bring back six American hostages from Iran in the late 1970s, should have gone to a Latino actor: “He [Affleck] was the director and he should’ve either gotten Michael Peña, or Andy Garcia, or myself, Jimmy Smits, any one of a multitude of people that can handle those roles. He said, ‘Well, they wouldn’t have made the movie if I wasn’t playing the role.’ B******t.” Olmos also added how unfair it was that “99 percent” of viewers wouldn’t know Mendez was a Chicano “born and raised in El Paso, Texas” as a result of Affleck’s casting.
Asked by journalist María Nieto about the casting choice at an “Argo” screening, Affleck said he received Mendez’s personal approval. He also said, “[Mendez] does not have … a Latin/Spanish accent, of any kind really, and … you know you wouldn’t necessarily select him out of a line of ten people and go, ‘This guy’s Latino.’ So I didn’t feel as though I was violating some thing, where, here’s this guy who’s clearly ethnic in some way and it’s sort of being whitewashed by Ben Affleck the actor.”
Was Ben Affleck drunk on Any Given Wednesday?
Cool, calm, and collected. Three words you definitely couldn’t use to describe Ben Affleck’s flustered appearance on HBO sports discussion show “Any Given Wednesday” in 2016. In fact, the “Dazed and Confused” star’s behavior was so bizarre that it left some fans wondering whether he’d hit the bottle beforehand.
While talking about the football-tampering scandal involving Tom Brady, Affleck became increasingly irate while throwing in no fewer than 18 F-bombs and appearing to slur his words. “Deflategate is the ultimate bulls*** f***ing outrage, of sports ever,” he ranted. “It’s so f***ing stupid.”
Affleck also got even more red-faced when addressing the NFL’s decision to penalize Brady for not handing over his phone to help with the investigation. He continued, “The first thing they’re gonna do is leak this s***! I dunno, maybe it’s funny lovely sex messages from his wife, maybe it’s just friendly messages from his wife. Maybe Tom Brady is so f***ing classy, and is such a f***ing gentleman, that he doesn’t want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion of some of his co-workers.” An anonymous source later denied to E! that the Oscar winner was inebriated: “He was absolutely not drunk. He just gets very passionate when talking about the Patriots.”
Everyone hates Ben Affleck's massive back tattoo
In 2018, Ben Affleck nearly broke the internet when he hit the beach during the shooting of Netflix action movie “Triple Frontier.” It was here that the star revealed a super-sized and hugely colorful back tattoo of a phoenix rising from the ashes. And it’s fair to say that the response was overwhelmingly negative.
Even two of Affleck’s exes couldn’t resist taking a dig at his unexpected body art. In an interview with Vanity Fair, ex-wife Jennifer Garner remarked, “You know what we would say in my hometown about that? ‘Bless his heart.‘” Jennifer Lopez, who dated Affleck in the early ’00s (and again in 2021), was far more scathing on “Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen:” “It’s awful! I mean, I would tell him that. I would tell him, like, ‘What are you doing?’ It has too many colors. His tattoos always had too many colors.”
To his credit, Affleck appeared to take all the harsh criticism in his stride. When the subject came up on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” the Oscar-winner acknowledged the tattoo had gone down like a lead balloon, but that most importantly, he was still happy with it: “It’s a phoenix rising from my a**, and I was about to say it represents something really important to me, but maybe we’ll skip that. It’s meaningful to me. I like it. It’s not something that I sort of kept private. It wasn’t like I was doing photoshoots.”
Kissing a man was once Ben Affleck's 'greatest acting challenge'
Kevin Smith sure landed one of his old movie regulars in it when he spoke at Los Angeles LGBT film festival Outfest in 2017, according to GSN. While discussing the “Chasing Amy” scene in which Ben Affleck kisses Jason Lee, the filmmaker recalled the former’s comments at the time: “A man kissing another man is the greatest acting challenge an actor can ever face … Now I’m a serious actor.”
Smith later apologized for bringing up Affleck’s problematic remarks again in a Facebook Live post, but by then the damage had already been done. “Westworld” actor Evan Rachel Wood was particularly offended by the revelation, tweeting (via NME), “Try getting raped in a scene. Also, grow up Ben.” When a fan pointed out that Affleck’s remarks were made two decades ago, Wood replied, “I’m sure he just thought it was a funny, but even jokes like that are damaging. Also, you think us ladies like kissing all the guys we kiss? Just ’cause it’s a ‘straight kiss’ doesn’t mean we enjoy it. Ahem.”
Affleck himself had admitted to “Entertainment Tonight” at the time of the film’s 1997 release that he’d had more problems with the kiss than he expected: “I’m not homophobic … I guess I am, more than I thought, in that, you know, it was just difficult for me, and I didn’t think it would be.”
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