Oscar Actors: Affleck, Casey–Background, Career, Awards

Research in Progress (April 28, 2021)

Casey Affleck Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: No

Social Class: working-to middle class; mother school teacher; father janitor, administrator

Family: child actor; brother, Ben Affleck

Education: Influential teacher at high school

Training: child actor

Radio Debut:

TV Debut:

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut:

Film Debut:

First lead: Buscemi’s indie comedy-drama Lonesome Jim (2006); age 31`

Breakthrough Role: Assassination of…, 2007; age 32

Oscar Role: Manchester By the Sea, 2016; age 41 (Best Actor)

Other Noms: Assassination, 2007; age 32 (Supp Actor)

Other Awards:

Screen Image:

Frequent Collaborator: Gus Van Sant; Soderbergh

Last Film: NA

Career Output:

Film Career Span:


Politics: Activist; philanthropy

Death: NA

Child Actor

Caleb Casey McGuire Affleck-Boldt (born August 12, 1975) began his career as a child actor, appearing in the PBS television film Lemon Sky (1988) and the miniseries The Kennedys of Massachusetts (1990).

He later appeared in 3 Gus Van Sant films: To Die For (1995), Good Will Hunting (1997), and Gerry (2002), and in Soderbergh’s comedy heist trilogy Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Ocean’s Twelve (2004), and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007).


Affleck’s breakthrough was in 2007, when he was nominated the Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the Western drama The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and acted in the crime drama Gone Baby Gone, directed by his brother Ben Affleck.

In 2010, he directed the mockumentary I’m Still Here.

He had successful films, with Tower Heist, ParaNorman, and Interstellar, and received praise for his role as an outlaw in the indie film “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.”

In 2016, Affleck starred as the lead in the drama Manchester by the Sea, as Lee Chandler, a man grieving the loss of his children, for which he won the Golden Globe, BAFTA, Best Actor Oscar, and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) nomination.

In 2017, Affleck received critical acclaim for his supernatural film “A Ghost Story.”

Caleb Casey McGuire Affleck-Boldt was born on August 12, 1975 in Falmouth, Massachusetts, to Christopher Anne “Chris” Boldt and Timothy Byers Affleck. The surname “Affleck” is of Scottish origin, and he also has Irish, German, English, and Swiss ancestry.

Affleck’s maternal great-great grandfather, Heinrich Boldt, known for the discovery of the Curmsun Disc, emigrated from Prussia in the late 1840s.

Casey’s mother was a Radcliffe College– and Harvard–educated elementary school teacher. His father worked sporadically as auto mechanic, carpenter, bookie, electrician, bartender, janitor at Harvard University.

In the mid-1960s, he was stage manager, director, writer and actor with the Theater Company of Boston. During Affleck’s childhood, his father was “a disaster of a drinker.” Affleck first started acting by “reenacting what was happening at home” in role play exercises at Alateen meetings.

After his parents’ divorce, when he was 9, Affleck and older brother Ben, lived with their mother. He learned to speak Spanish during a year spent traveling around Mexico with his mother and brother when he was 10. The two siblings spent “all of our time together, pretty much. Obviously at school we were in different grades, but we had the same friends.”

When Affleck was 14, his father moved to Indio, California to rehabilitation facility, and later worked there as an addiction counselor. Affleck reconnected with his father during visits to California as a teenager: “I got to know him, really, because he was sober for the first time … The man I knew before that was just completely different.”

Highschool Theater Teacher

Growing up in a politically active, liberal household in Cambridge, Affleck and his brother were surrounded by people who in the arts, and were regularly taken to the theater by their mother. They were also encouraged to make their own home movies. The brothers sometimes appeared in local weather commercials and as movie extras because of their mother’s friendship with local casting director. Casey acted in high school productions while a student at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. He said he “wouldn’t be an actor” if not for his high school theater teacher Gerry Speca: “He kind of turned me on to acting, why it can be fun, how it can be rewarding.”

To Die For (1995)

At the age of 18, Affleck moved to Los Angeles for a year to pursue acting career, and lived with his brother and their childhood friend Matt Damon. Despite having “the best possible first experience” while filming To Die For, he spent much of the year working as a busboy at a restaurant in Pasadena. He decided to move to Washington, D.C., to study politics at George Washington University. He soon transferred to Columbia University, where he studied for two years, but did not graduate: “I would do a semester of school, go do a movie … Opportunities kept presenting themselves that were hard for me to turn down … By then, I didn’t really have roots at the school or a group of friends.”

Affleck acted professionally during childhood due to his mother’s friendship with Cambridge casting director, Patty Collinge. In addition to local weather commercials and movie extra work, he appeared as Kevin Bacon’s brother in the PBS TV movie Lemon Sky (1988), directed by Collinge’s husband Jan Egleson, and as a young Robert Kennedy in the ABC miniseries “The Kennedys of Massachusetts: (1990).

These early acting experiences “meant nothing more than a day off from school” and he only began to consider career as actor when in high school. When he later moved to L.A. to pursue acting career in earnest, his first role was as a sociopathic teenager in Van Sant’s 1995 satirical comedy To Die For. During filming in Toronto, Affleck shared apartment with co-star Joaquin Phoenix and they became close friends. However, Affleck had a “disappointing” experience while making the 1996 drama “Race the Sun” and, “as soon as the film finished, I went to school.”

While studying at Columbia, Affleck had supporting role in Van Sant’s “Good Will Hunting” (1997), written by his brother and their childhood friend Matt Damon. Affleck was reluctant to leave college temporarily to act in the film. He was eventually persuaded to play one of four friends living in South Boston – a role written specifically for him – and improvised many of his lines. After the movie’s critical and commercial success, Affleck’s career opportunities did not improve, but parts of his life became “part of pop culture and public life.”

Also in 1997, he had a small role in Kevin Smith’s “Chasing Amy, starring his brother. He returned to university for a semester before quitting to focus on his acting career.

Affleck’s career entered a “dark” period, with supporting roles in critical and commercial failures. He later remarked: “It dawned on me late that I should be selective about what I do.”

In the indie comedy Desert Blue (1998), he starred opposite Kate Hudson as a small-town jock.

In 1999, he made an uncredited cameo in the teen comedy “American Pie” and appeared as punk rocker romantically involved with both Gaby Hoffmann and Christina Ricci’s characters in the ensemble comedy “200 Cigarettes.”

Assistant to Van Sant

In the comedy Drowning Mona (2000), starring Danny DeVito, Affleck played a shy gardener suspected of murder.

Also in 2000, Affleck had a small role in the comedy “Attention Shoppers” and played Fortinbras in Ethan Hawke’s “Hamlet.” He appeared as the brother of Heather Graham’s character in the romantic comedy “Committed” (2001), with Emanuel Levy of Variety praising a “terrific” performance.

Gus Van Sant

Also in 2001, he had small role in American Pie 2 and appeared in the teen slasher film Soul Survivors. Affleck had during this period was working with Van Sant and cinematographer Harris Savides on Finding Forrester (2000) as Van Sant’s assistant and technical consultant: “Can you imagine a better film school that that? Gus is not only somebody who I love a lot but is also who has taught me, maybe more than anybody else in film.”

Ocean’s Movies

Affleck found commercial success when cast in Soderbergh’s heist comedy Ocean’s Eleven (2001), starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Damon. In roles Soderbergh originally intended for Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson, Affleck and Scott Caan played Mormon brothers and wisecracking mechanics who help to rob Las Vegas casinos simultaneously. While it was a “great, fun social experience,” Affleck spent much of his time on set “being, like, 100 feet away from the camera in the background.” He would later reprise his role in Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007).

In 2002, Affleck and Damon starred in Van Sant’s experimental “Gerry,” playing two men lost while hiking in the desert. Affleck, Damon, and Van Sant conceived of the idea and wrote the screenplay together. The film, which had minimal dialogue, received mixed reviews. Affleck, who rarely watches his movies, later said: “That was an incredible experience. I saw one scene recently out of context at the Telluride Film Fest and I can’t believe anyone ever sat through the whole thing. It probably works better as a whole but one scene lifted out – I thought, ‘This is unbearable!'”

Also in 2002, Affleck starred with Damon and then-girlfriend Summer Phoenix in a West End stage production of Kenneth Lonergan’s “This Is Our Youth.” Lonergan and Affleck became friends during rehearsals, and Affleck later acted in workshops of Lonergan’s plays in N.Y.

First Lead Role

Affleck’s first lead role was in 2006’s comedy-drama “Lonesome Jim,” directed by Steve Buscemi. He played a depressed writer who returns from New York to live with his parents in Indiana, and begins a relationship with Liv Tyler’s character.

Also in 2006, he had supporting role in the romantic comedy “The Last Kiss,” as a friend of Zach Braff’s character.

Breakthrough: First Oscar Nomination
Affleck had breakthrough year in 2007, with two critically acclaimed performances. The first was in the Western drama The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, in which he played Robert Ford to Brad Pitt’s Jesse James. Affleck auditioned repeatedly for the role. Director Andrew Dominik had cast him partly because of his “beautiful-sounding voice. The voice is the thing that really gets you.” Affleck was nominated for the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Oscar as Best Supporting Actor.

His brother Ben offered him the lead role in his directorial project, the Boston crime thriller Gone Baby Gone (2007). While his brother was a first-time director and in the midst of a career downturn, Affleck had confidence in the project: “I felt like I knew him better than anyone else did.” His performance, as an inexperienced private investigator tasked with finding missing child, earned Affleck further plaudits for his acting.

While The Assassination and Gone Baby Gone were a financial failure and a modest box office success, respectively, Affleck’s acting career was at turning point.

However, he lost career momentum while directing I’m Still Here (2010), a divisive mockumentary about the musical career of his friend and then brother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix. Affleck later clarified it was “a planned, staged and scripted work of fiction,” there was much media speculation about whether Phoenix’s public behavior was performance art or breakdown.

Affleck used his money to fund I’m Still Here and, after running out of cash, filming was paused for a month to allow him to play a Texan serial killer in Michael Winterbottom’s crime drama The Killer Inside Me (2010). Affleck later expressed regret over the movie’s graphic violence.

Affleck then had a supporting role in the heist comedy Tower Heist (2011) and voiced a character in the 2012 animation ParaNorman.

Affleck returned to regular acting work in 2013. “It was ugly for a minute … I sort of remembered why I liked acting and I missed it.” In David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013), Affleck and Rooney Mara starred as outlaw lovers in 1970s-era Texas. Affleck was drawn to the opportunity to play a character who “was a much better person than anyone thought,” after a string of roles as “assassins or murderers or just creeps.”

The opportunity to act with Christian Bale in the drama Out of the Furnace “reinvigorated” Affleck and reminded him why he enjoyed acting.

In 2014, Affleck and Jessica Chastain had supporting roles in Nolan’s science fiction Interstellar as the grown-up children of Matthew McConaughey’s character.

Also in 2014, Affleck and producer John Powers Middleton launched the production company, The Affleck/Middleton Project.

Affleck starred in three films in 2016, the first two underperformed financially. In John Hillcoat’s crime thriller Triple 9, Affleck played an uncorruptible detective.

In Disney’s disaster drama The Finest Hours, Affleck played a taciturn engineer on board a sinking ship.

Affleck starred as Lee Chandler, a grief-stricken alcoholic loner, in Kenneth Lonergan’s drama Manchester by the Sea. One of the film’s producers, Matt Damon, intended to star in the film. When scheduling conflicts made this unfeasible, Damon agreed to step aside if he be replaced with Affleck. Lonergan readily agreed, remarking that Affleck was “the natural person to go to.” Affleck had close relationships with both men and had previously offered notes on early drafts of the script. The movie was a box office success, and Affleck’s performance received widespread critical praise.

Affleck won the National Board of Review, Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Academy Award for his performance.

After dropping out of Lowery’s Pete’s Dragon in order to star in Manchester by the Sea, Affleck reteamed with the director to star opposite Rooney Mara in the experimental drama A Ghost Story, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Festival. Affleck’s character dies suddenly at the outset and he spends much of the film covered by a white sheet with two eye-holes, haunting his former home.

In 2019, he directed, wrote and starred in the survival drama Light of My Life. It had its world premiere at the Berlin Festival in 2019 and received positive reviews.

Affleck next starred in The Friend, opposite Dakota Johnson and Jason Segel, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, based upon a true story revolving around a couple, whose best friend moves in for support, following a cancer diagnosis. which had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto Festival.

Affleck will next act and produce The World to Come, directed by Mona Fastvold alongside Katherine Waterston and Vanessa Kirby.

Affleck was introduced to actress Summer Phoenix by her brother, Joaquin, in the late 1990s. They began dating in 2000, and acted together in both the 2000 Committed and a 2002 stage production of This is Our Youth. The couple became engaged in January 2004 and married on June 3, 2006 in Savannah, Georgia. They have two sons, Indiana August (b. 2004) and Atticus (2008).  On August 1, 2017, Phoenix officially filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.”  It was an amicable divorce and that they remain friends.

In 2016, he began a relationship with actress Floriana Lima.

Alcoholic Family

In a 2016 interview, Affleck said that he had been sober for “almost three years … My father was a disaster of a drinker, my grandmother was an alcoholic, my brother spent some time in rehab – it’s in our genes.”

In 2008, Affleck filmed an episode of documentary series 4Real, in which he visited the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, and remarked upon the progress they had made due largely to “their own resourcefulness and determination and their character, and not because of the goodness of our collective heart.”

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Affleck supported Hillary Clinton and characterized Donald Trump as “dangerous fool.”

In 2017, multiple financial contributions to Trump were made by Affleck’s production company, which he co-founded with John Powers Middleton. Affleck denied involvement: “I had no knowledge of it, was never asked, and never would have authorized it. The policies of the Trump administration, and the values they represent, are antithetical to everything I believe in.”

In 2010, two of his former co-workers from I’m Still Here filed civil lawsuits against Affleck. Amanda White, one of the producers, sued Affleck for $2 million with multiple complaints including “sexual harassment” and “breach of oral contract”. She detailed numerous “uninvited and unwelcome sexual advances” in the workplace.

The film’s cinematographer, Magdalena Gorka, sued Affleck for $2.25 million with multiple complaints including “intentional infliction of emotional distress” and “breach of oral contract.” Affleck denied the allegations and threatened  to countersue; his lawyer described both claims as “total fiction” and “completely fabricated.” The lawsuits were later settled out of court. Both women received credit for their work, and no details of financial settlement were released.

Affleck pulled out of presenting the Academy Award for Best Actress at the 90th Academy Awards.

Affleck has been a vegan since 1995. He has been involved with animal rights campaigns for both PETA and Farm Sanctuary.

In 2017, Affleck supported the 37th Annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games, hosted by Paralyzed Veterans of America. In January 2019, he attended the 4th Annual Veterans Awards as a presenter.