Ben Affleck

  1. Corey Haim, License To Drive, 1988.    Ben tried hard but this proved to be first of eight teamings ruling the box-office for the two Coreys – Feldman and Haim.   Ben  (and his pal  Matt Damon) were extras in Field of Dreams that year.
  2. Matt Damon, Mystic Pizza, 1988.     When two pals audition, one has to finish in a cinema, watching the other. In this case, instance, watching Damon’s screen debut, seven years after Affleck’s.
  3. Brendan Fraser, The Mummy, 1989.    Hero Rick O’Connell  was up between Ben, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey,  Chris O’Donnell and Sylvester Stallone –  as helmers switched from  Clive Barker and  Joe Dante to Stephen Sommers. 
  4. Chris O’Donnell, Scent of a Woman, 1992.    Affleck and his pal Matt Damon fought tooth and nail to co-star with a blind Al Pacino. As did Randall Batinkoff, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Stephen Dorff, Brendan Fraser, Cole Hauser, Anthony Rapp, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Serrone. Al finally collected an Oscar. Ben and Matt did the ssme six years later for writing Good Will Hunting.
  5. Paul Rudd, Clueless, 1994 .   Affleck, Zack Braff and Jeremy Renner auditioned for Josh, step-brother of Alicia Silverstone’s teen queen in the Beverly Hills flip-side of director Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High. “A smart and funny movie,” said Chicago critic Roger Ebert, ”and the characters are in on the joke.”
  6. John Livingston, Mr Wrong, 1995.     Lost Walter; so did David Arquette, Adrien Brody, Noah Wylie. They were lucky!  “A dreadful movie,” blasted San Francisco critic Nick LaSalle. They were lucky again in April 2013 when their union blocked the auction of 54 testtapes, including theirs with Ellen DeGeneres.  “Auditions are not public performances,” said the SAG-AFTRA. “Performers are entitled to expect them to remain private.”
  7. Skeet Ulrich, Scream, 1996.   The far from famous Affleck (he was Basketball Player #10 during Buffy The Vampire Slayer in 1991) was in the handsome-hero Billy Loomis loop with David Arquette, Matthew Lillard, Joaquin Phoenix (refused), Kevin Patrick Walls. Plus Michael Landes and Justin Whalin, who had both played Jimmy Olsen in Lois & Clark which – in case you were thick – was subtitled The New Adventures of Superman. Ulrich won Lomis because he resembled Johnny Depp, in director Wes Craven’s other quirky horror franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984.
  8. Mark Wahlberg, Boogie Nights, 1997.    Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s exploration of the 70s porno biz as a family unit  (Burt Reynolds’ film-maker and Julianne Moore’s porno star being “the parents”) needed a stud called Dirk Diggler. Loosely based on hungalike John C Holmes. Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, Matt Damon (!), Ethan Hawke, Jason Lee and Joaquin Phoenix  refused. Idem for, of all people, Vincent Gallo, who performed his own hard-score scene in his Brown Bunny  in 2002. First choice was Leonardo DiCaprio. He loved the script but had  booked passage on theTitanicand told PTA: “You should get Mark”… who kept his prosthetic penis. (Gallo didn’t need  one).
  9. Joseph Fiennes, Shakespeare In Love, 1998.    Miramax bully Harvey Weinstein wanted Ben as the Bard except he remained more loyal than Weinstein to pal Kevin Smith and accepted a cameo in Dogma (also made for Miramax).
  10. Brendan Fraser,The Mummy, 1998.   A surprise box-office winner, particularly as it starred Fraser instead of…  Ben Affleck or Matt Damon (they’d just won their Goodwill Huntingscript Oscar), EvilDead’s Bruce Campbell (his first studio offer), Leonardo DiCaprio (keen but tied to The Beach),the unknown Stephen Dunham (instead, he debuted as Henderson), Matthew McConaughey, Chris O’Donnell, Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone and the star of the 2016 flop, Tom Cruise. Not as the titular Imhotep, of course, but the heroic Indiana…er… Rick O’Connell.

  11. James Marsden, X-Men1999.  “Mutation: it is the key to our evolution.”  Producer James Cameron and his then wife, director Kathryn Bigelow, chose Michael Biehn  for Scott Summers/Cyclops in the early 90s – and never made the film! James Caviezel won this version before prefering to be Dennis Quaid’s son in Frequency. (Nobody’s perfect).  To be free for Cyclops, Marsden shut the door on  Soul Survivors and slipped  the key to Casey Affleck  – after director Bryan Singer looked at pals Ben Affleck (who had eye issues in Daredevil, 2002) and Matt Damon, Ethan Hawke, Thomas Jane (who became Marvel’s The Punisher, in 2003, and opposite Rebecca Romijn, X-Men’s Mystique), Edward Norton (already turned down as Logan/Wolverine, DB Sweeney (he cameoed as a Statue of Liberty guard), Luke Wilson… and Edward Burns, except the last thing a young and opinionated
  12. Richard Gere, Runaway Bride, 1999.   During a full decade everyone had a shot at it: Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson.“I’m just happy,” said Affleck, “not to be holding up convenience stores.”
  13. Mark Wahlberg, The Perfect Storm, 1999.  NicolasCage was first choice for Bobby Shatford.  When his diary disagreed, Ben Affleck was seen and then George Clooney suggested Mark Wahlberg.  They’d made Three Kingstogether in 1998. Wahlberg still dropped out of Clooney’s Ocean’s Eleven, 2001.
  14. Tobey Maguire, The Cider House Rules, 1999. Author John Irving went through four directors before settling on the Swedish Lasse Hallström to handle what Roger Ebert called a David Copperfieldish story (or, indeed, stories). For Homer, finally leaving his orphanage and surrogate father Michael Caine (winning his first Oscar), Hallström looked at The Class of ‘97 – Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, James Franco, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Ryan Phillippe, Mark Wahlberg, Paul Walker. And chose Leonardo DiCaprio, who passed it to his (monotoned) pal, Maguire.    
  15. Mark Wahlberg, Planet of the Apes, 2000.    It was dial-a-hero time at Fox as Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Patrick Swayze were contacted for the Charlton Heston substitute, Captain Leo Davidson, in the unnecessary re-hash of the 1967 classic. “It is what it is,” said a disappointed Wahlberg.“ They didn’t have the script right. Fox had a release date before Tim Burton   had shot a foot of film. They were pushing him and pushing him in the wrong direction. You have to let Tim do his thing.”
  16. James Caviezel, Angel Eyes, 2001.    Jennifer Lopez insisted on the guy  -she didn’t know his name – who had impressed her in The Thin Red Line. 1998.Lopez agreed to Affleck for the (terrible) Gigli, 2002, and started an affair with him that, due to all the Bennifer tabloid headlines, crucified their careers for years.
  17. Edward Norton, Score, 2001.    Passed – onthe chance of working with Marlon Brando and De Niro in the same film!
  18. Aaron Eckhart, Suspect Zero, 2003.     In the 90s, Affleck,Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone were all keen on playing the disgraced Dallas FBI Agent. Cruise became a producer – refusing any credit.
  19. Colin Farrell, Daredevil, 2003.  Inexplicably grabbing every film in  sight, the Irish Farrell was too busy for the blind hero but guested as Bullseye – the villain first offered to Affleck. Ben’s pal Kevin Smith (an ex-Daredevil comicbook writer)  said he’d be a great DD.  Smith was wrong (as usual).  Also on the DD short list were Matt Damon (who had little faith in what became his mate’s film), Vin Diesel (he preferred The Chronicles of Riddick), Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulk in 2007) and Guy Pearce, who just wasn’t into comix. As DD, Affleck (a future Batman) proved more dumb than blind. Playing Elektra, Jennifer Garner reportedly KOed Affleck in one scene – he still married her three years later!
  20. Balthazar Getty,  Feast, 2004.   ““They’re Hungry. You’re Dinner.” As the script was developed by Affleck and Matt Damon’s Project Greenlight TV show, there was  moment when the two pals were going to  be brothers Bozo and Hot Wheels against the aliens in the  blood-soaked horror.  That would have  wound  their clock back…
  21. Mark Wahlberg, Four Brothers, 2004.    Affleck, Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel, Ethan Hawke, Brad Pitt and Jeremy Renner were in the mix for the head of the brothers avenging the murder of their adoptive mother. Came across like Death Wishmeets The Sons of Katie Elder(except John Waye and his real siblings were avenging their Dad’s killing in the 1965 Western). A planned Five Brotherssequel never happened. Thankfully.
  22. Aaron Eckhart, Suspect Zero, 2004.    Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallonealso keen on playing the FBI agent investigating a serial killer of… serial killers. Zak Penn’s 1995 draft went through numerous changes from writers including potential hero Affleck.

  23. Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain, 2004.
    Hollywood was not keen on Annie Prouix’s 1977 short story – two gay shepherds in Wyoming, get outa here!   Until  directors (more than actors) queued to make it.  Ang Lee, Joel Schumacher – but first in line was Gus Van Sant (obviously). He called up Damon and Joaquin Phoenix (obviously; they’d made his Good Will Hunting and To Die For, respectively). Said Damon: “Gus, I did a gay movie [The Talented Mr Ripley, then a cowboy movie [All the Pretty Horses]. I can’t follow it up with a gay-cowboy movie!”  Ang Lee was considering retirement when the script “nurtured” him back to work, only to find many actors were scared to play gay. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Philippe and Brad Pitt all refused. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal did not. ”These two are among the best in their age group.. Jake plays the opposite of Heath and it creates a very good couple in terms of a romantic love story.”  Gyllenhaal added: “I don’t think that these two characters even know what gay is.… What ties [them] together is not just a love, but … primarily it was deep loneliness.” Ang Lee  told journo  Robert Ordona  that in the 60s, he’d have chosen  Paul Newman and Montgomery Clift as Ennis and Jack.

  24. Russell Crowe, The Cinderella Man, 2005.   Long before Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom and Hollywooden Ron Howard were interested, when actor and sometime director Billy Bob Thornton planned the James Braddock story.
  25. Josh Lucas, Glory Road, 2006.   Passed, presumably over the weight thing. Lucas gained 43 lbs to be Don Haskins, the legendary basketball coach, who force-fed US desegregation when his all-black Texas Western Miners beat the all-white University of Kentucky Wildcats to win the 1966 NCAA championship.
  26. Justin Long, Live Free or Die Hard, 2006.     Originally due to be John McClane’s son, our hero’s computer geek sidekick Matt Farrell in Hard 4 was chosen from Long, Ben Affleck, Ron Huebel, Kai Penn, Brad Renfro, Scott Speedman. Director Len Wiseman wanted Speedman, Bruce Willis voted Affleck to reprise their 1997 Armageddon chemistry. McClane Jr was kept in the Fox fridge until A Good Day To Die Hard, aka Hard 5, in 2012.
  27. Casey Affleck, Gone Baby Gone, 2007.  Five years before becoming Captain America, Evans tested for Patrick Kenzie, half of  the Boston bed and business partners cum-private eyes. Michelle Monaghan is the other half.  Instead of starring, Ben Affleck co-wrote and fully directed this version of Dennis Lehane’s fourth book about what Chicago critic Roger Ebert called babes in the woods. They not into guns or heavy lifting and yet “end up with crucifixion murders, kidnapped babies and, as always, people who are not who, or what, they seem.”
  28. Will Smith, Hancock, 2007.     Collecting dust on Hollywood shelves for a rapidly decade as Tonight, He Comes, Vincent Ngo’s script (much darker, with Hancock unable to sexually perform without killing his lovers) had the finger smudges of Affleck and pal Matt Damon, George Clooney, Leonardo Di Caprio.
  29. Matthew McConaughey, The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, 2008.     Due as a Disney production in 2003 until Ben’s Gigli flopped – gigantically.By the time the comedy was made, Affleck’s new wife, Jennifer Garner, was the star.Opposite Affleck’s Dazed and Confused co-star.
  30. Bruce Willis, Cop Out, 2009.     Warner picked up the script when Gold Circle dropped it in 2008. And turned James Gandolfini-Robin Williams into Bruce Willis-Tracy Morgan as (first title) A Couple of Dicks. Director Kevin Smith’s most successful film. (The first he didn’t script, you see). He’d wanted to team his chums Affleck-Jason Mewes but Warner craved Star Power. Poor Kevin did not get on as well with Willis as when they co-starred in Love Free or Die Hard, 2006. “I don’t wish him poorly or anything like that,” he said at Comic Con 2014, “but I just don’t want to be near him ever again.” Their relationship can best be summed by Willis telling Smith: “I’m Bruce Willis! I’ve been Bruce Willis succesfully for 25 years! How long you been Silent Bob, motherfucker?”

  31. Joel Edgerton, The Great Gatsby, 2011.  Australian director Baz Luhrmann asked actor Ben to be Tom Buchanan opposite the great Leonardo DiCaprio but director Affleck was recreating the 1979 Iran hostage crisis in Argo. Edgerton, who narrowly lost out on being “the new Jason Bourne,” was then chosen. And proved the weakest link of the fourth Gatsby movie since 1926. Either of the other candidates  – Bradley Cooper and Luke Evans – would have been superior.
  32. Will Smith, Focus, 2014.   Ryan Gosling as a veteran grifter teaching his art to (and falling for) Emma Stone – became Smith (coaching  Margot Robbie) after Affleck and Brad Pitt passed.  And Kristen Stewart quit due to her age difference with Smith. Her 24 to his 57.
  33. Michael Fassbender,  Steve Jobs, 2015.   Christian Bale was in,  then out (like Sony Pictures!).  Other  potential Jobses  included Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio.  Christian baled for The Accountant andLeo took over another Bale reject, The Revenant… before“a lengthy break from acting.”
  34. Oscar Isaac, Triple Frontier, 2019.  The duo fixing up a dirty half-dozen of fellow needy ex-Special Forces guys to rip off your usual South American drug kingpin to beef up their pensions went from Tom Hardy-Channing Tatum to Johnny Depp-Tom Hanks to Ben and Casey Affleck to Denzel Washington-Sean Penn to Leonardo DiCaprio-Anybody to, finally, Ben Affleck-Oscar Isaac. By which time it had run out of the steam it must have once had as Kathryn Bigelow was once going to direct. JC Chandor was no substitute.







 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  34