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Bennifer II: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner

If you were to trace back the pandemonium that comes with being in a celebrity couple, all you have to do is look back a couple of years ago and think about the media explosion that was Bennifer.  Bennifer were everywhere, they were making movies together, doing interviews about each other, appearing in music videos together, making their wedding plans public - it was all a time of complete overexposure.  Of course, just like any good celebrity story, the couple went from being an objection of affection to being objects of ridicule.  The media went into overdrive producing stories about how much Bennifer have saturated the media and it was all a bit ridiculous.

As you can imagine, the celebrity marriage between Ben Affleck (aka. Ben) and Jennifer Lopez (aka. nifer or J. Lo) did not go down.  The media attention, the public skepticism, and the failure of their co-ventures (aka. the movie, “Gigli,” which many people have described as being one of the worst movies of all time) not only sank their relationship but also tarnished their professional careers in a small way.  Additionally, the media storm that tore through their lives must have changed the way Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez approached mixing their personal and professional lives.

While there are many couples that have emerged since then that have ridden the wild waves of having a public celebrity marriage (ie. Britney Spears and Kevin Federline), it seems like the original Bennifer have learnt from their past mistakes.  Jennifer Lopez is now married to singer Marc Anthony and while the two sometimes collaborate in song, the couple has not registered in the public eye at quiet the same level that Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck did.

Similarly, Ben Affleck has since found marriage with his former Daredevil and Pearl Harbour co-star, Jennifer Garner.  Although Jennifer Garner has established a strong television career due to the success of her former show, “Alias” and looks like she is about to successfully make the transition from being a star on the small screen to the big screen, it has been fascinating watching how this Bennifer differs from the original Bennifer.

At a time where the public’s view of a celebrity relationship can swing from one extreme to another, the celebrity marriage between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner has been surprisingly stable.  It seems that if a celebrity couple practices what they preach and actually have a low-key relationship that is free of any overt attempts for public attention, the public and media can’t help but complement this celebrity marriage as being sincere.  In a complete 180 degree turn from the mess that was the original Bennifer relationship, which was far too public, this new and improved celebrity couple – Bennifer seems to provide a great path for other celebrity couples to follow.  Who would’ve thought that the media term Bennifer would be used as a complement for public subtlety?

From down to up to down and back up again, this has been the turbulent nature of Ben Affleck’s career.  A person that seemed to pop out of nowhere due to the success of the 1998 Academy Award nominated for Best Movie flick, Good Will Hunting, Ben Affleck has had a steady acting career that dates back to childhood.  A man that symbolizes the good and bad of Boston pride, Ben Affleck has lived an extremely interesting life in the public eye.

The story of Benjamin Geza Affleck-Boldt can be traced back to August 15, 1972 where he was born in Berkely, California.  His father, Timothy Affleck, worked as a successful social worker and drug rehab counselor, while his mother, Chris Boldt, was a school teacher.  The Afflecks would move to the Massachusetts area known as Cambridge, where he would soon encounter a kid that would change his life drastically – Matt Damon.  Damon was ten years old at the time, two years older than Affleck. The two bonded over a shared love of the Boston Red Sox and through their parent’s encouragement, they would both attend the prestigious Cambridge Rindge and Latin School together.

From an early age, Ben Affleck pursued his love of acting.  Working as a child actor, Affleck appeared on the PBS show, The Voyage of the Mimi, and also did a number of appearances in made for TV movies.  As he got older, Affleck got roles that played off his athletic build.  He had a recurring role as an athlete that struggles with steroid addiction in “Life Stories: Families in Crisis.”  Additionally, he received a number of small roles in successful movies like, “School Ties” and “Dazed and Confused.”  However, it would be in 1995 that Ben Affleck would find a professional partnership that would last until today. 

With a small independent movie named “Clerks,” director and writer Kevin Smith had quickly become one of the fastest rising talents in Hollywood.  A rebel who made small movies that were big hits among college students, Kevin Smith would cast Ben Affleck in one of his biggest starring roles in the 1995 movie, “Mallrats.”  Although “Mallrats” was a marginal success, this partnership between Affleck and Smith would endure, as Ben Affleck would appear in some shape or form in every single movie that Kevin Smith would make, including starring roles in “Chasing Amy,” “Dogma,” and “Jersey Girl.” 

Although Ben Affleck’s career would get a boost from his appearances in Kevin Smith movies, the biggest benefit that Affleck received out of this partnership was Smith’s championing of a script that Affleck and his good friend Matt Damon wrote.  Due to Kevin Smith’s connections, this little script would be made into one of the most popular movies of the 1990s – “Good Will Hunting.”  Hollywood is a place where rags to riches stories are loved and the story of two struggling actors that wrote such a compelling script together and made their own breaks was simply irresistible.

Good Will Hunting would go on to be one of the most successful movies of 1997 and would open up a number of acting doors for both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.  The two friends won Oscars for Best Original Screenplay that year and their close friendship would end up being parodied in the popular off-Broadway play, “Matt and Ben.”  Although Affleck and Damon have yet to follow up Good Will Hunting with another script, they have been involved in television productions like the reality TV documentary series, “Project Greenlight,” and the failed mystery-reality TV series, “Push-Nevada.” 

While Ben Affleck originally made his name as a Hollywood outsider who loved independent movies, his post-Good Will Hunting career has been an exercise of establishing himself as a box-office draw.  He starred in big-budget action movies such as “Pearl Harbor,” “Armageddon,” “The Sum of All Fears,” and “Daredevil.”  To celebrate his ascension to Hollywood royalty, Ben Affleck’s life soon turned into a bit of a cliché.  His public romances with other Hollywood stars made him a popular tabloid target.  He dated Academy Award winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998 but their relationship soon fell apart as Affleck entered rehab for his drinking.  However, during their relationship, Affleck and Paltrow would make a movie together, “Bounce,” that would go on to be a critical and commercial failure.  This propensity to make movies with his girlfriend would set up the biggest failure in Ben Affleck’s career. 

As Ben Affleck entered the 21st century, he was becoming equally well known for being a celebrity as he was for being an actor.  He was a tireless campaigner for the Democratic Party and for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.  Additionally, Affleck was becoming a public face for the increasingly popular sport of Texas Hold Em poker.  He frequently appeared at poker tournaments and he was also a very public figure as the Boston Red Sox uber-fan as the Red Sox and the New York Yankees established a fierce rivalry in the last few years.  It was in 2002 that news broke out about his latest relationship with Hollywood royalty, Jennifer Lopez. 

Jennifer Lopez had been a respected actress during the mid-1990s but she became a truly global icon as she pursued a successful music career and became the advertising face for so many products.  This new and somewhat unexpected celebrity couple soon became the toast of the town.  People couldn’t get enough of this hot new couple dubbed “Bennifer” until they eventually got extremely tired of this couple.  After a year of hearing stories everyday about their relationship, the public responded by ignoring the Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez movie, “Gigli.” 

Although many people attribute the failure of Gigli on public burnout on Bennifer, the movie didn’t do very well because it was truly a terrible movie.  However, the public rejection of Bennifer caused Kevin Smith to cut out almost all of the scenes of Jennifer Lopez out of his movie, “Jersey Girl.”  The couple soon broke up in 1994, citing excessive media attention, as the reason.  By this time, Ben Affleck had become the butt of many jokes.  However, it would be through the subtle relationship he would form with another Jennifer that would make the public ready for the reemergence of Ben Affleck. 

If Ben Affleck was challenging for the throne of big screen king in the early part of the 21st century, Jennifer Anne Garner was undoubtedly the queen of the small screen during this time.  Born on April 17, 1972 this Texan beauty melted hearts as the tough CIA agent, Sydney Bristow, on the hit show, Alias.  She has also showed her range on the big screen in small cameos in “Catch Me If You Can” and starring in crowd pleasing flicks like, “13 Going On To 30.”  This rising star has helped teach her new husband, Ben Affleck, the key to keeping your personal life out of your professional life of being a celebrity. 

Born to her teacher mother, Patricia Ann English, and her chemical engineer father, Bill Jack Garner, Jennifer Anne Garner was the middle child of three daughters.  Raised as a Methodist, Jennifer Garner would grow up in the charming Southern city of Charleston, West Virginia by the time she was four years old until she left to go to Denison College.  A smart cookie that balanced her love of dancing and playing the saxophone with her desire of pursuing a career in science, Jennifer Garner soon found that her passion for acting overwhelmed her passion for science.

Although she had been accepted to Yale University’s drama program in 1995, Jennifer Garner showed the bold determination that has helped make her a star by moving to New York City instead that year to gain experience directly.  From there, she found an understudy part in a play and managed to find some small television roles, including a part in the Danielle Steel derived “Zoya.”  However, it would be just a year later that she managed to make a bit of headway by landing a key guest cameo in the hit show, “Law & Order.”  After this initial bit of success, Jennifer Garner would change coasts and move to Los Angeles. 

It would be there that she would establish an important professional relationship where she was cast on the show, Felicity.  Although she was playing a secondary character, the show would drastically change her life.  It was on the Felicity set that Jennifer Garner would meet her first husband, co-star Scott Foley.  It was also while working on Alias that Jennifer Garner would become friends with a promising screenwriter who was entering the world of television production, JJ Abrams. 

Although the show “Felicity” was a critical hit and ran for four years, it was not quiet the success that anybody involved in the show thought that it would be.  Her exposure on Felicity opened up some doors for Jennifer Garner, as she filled her resume with small roles in such movie hits as, “Pearl Harbor” and “Dude Where’s My Car?”  However, it was in 2001 that Jennifer Garner got her first major break thanks to the help of an old friend. 

It was earlier that year that JJ Abrams, who would go on to create the hit TV show “Lost,” started toying with a new idea for a television series.  Recalling how much he enjoyed spy dramas like Mission: Impossible when he was a child, Abrams decided to go against then conventional wisdom and create a spy show, Alias, that subverted the norm of spy shows by having a female lead instead.  Garner auditioned and won the starring role of Sydney Bristow and within a few months was awarded with a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series.  With such a large buzz, “Alias,” immediately turned Garner into a superstar.  She would go on to be nominated for four straight Golden globes and Emmy nominations for Best Actress in a Television Drama.  Her salary would increase from $45,000 an episode to $150,000 an episode in the span of five years.  The success of her starring turn in a television hit also opened up the doors for her movie career. 

While “Alias” brought Garner fame, the extra media attention also was sited as being the cause for the breakup of her first marriage with Scott Foley.  Learning from this experience, Jennifer Garner would guard her private life fiercely.  Her relationship with Alias co-star Michael Vartan produced zero public appearances and was much more different than the public attention that came with her marriage to Foley.  In July 2004, the newly single Garner began to quietly date her Daredevil co-star Ben Affleck, who himself was coming of the massive public exposure of being in a celebrity couple.

This low-key celebrity relationship was often speculated on but the lack of public appearances set the tone for this sweet celebrity marriage.  Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner would make their first public appearance while attending a Boston Red Sox game and the two would get engaged on Garner’s 33rd birthday.  This new and improved Bennifer would seal the deal by getting married on June 29, 2005 at the Parrot Cay resort on the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Keeping with the tone of secrecy of their relationship, the celebrity marriage between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner was a secret. 

Both Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck had been burned by having strong relationships fall apart due to the glare of excessive media attention and the two have now found solace with one another.  The couple are the parents of one daughter, Violet Anne Affleck, and have shown many celebrity couples that it is possible to sustain a celebrity marriage that is free from the public eye.  Who would have thought that a Bennifer would show that this simple concept is actually possible?