Matt Damon and Ben Affleck Warner Bros./The Weinstein Company
Though the two remain tied together in popular imagination, their respective careers have taken very different courses. But they are both still two of Hollywood's top leading men. This weekend, Matt headlines Clint Eastwood's latest directorial effort, "Hereafter," and in December, Ben stars in "The Company Men" opposite Tommy Lee Jones. So a dozen years after winning Oscar gold, who comes out on top? We crunched the numbers:
|Matt Damon||Ben Affleck|
|First Movie||Mystic Pizza||Buffy the Vampire
|Number of Starring Roles||27||30|
|Biggest Box-Office Hit
||The Bourne Ultimatum
|Awards||2 Oscar Nominations,
1 Oscar, 1 Golden
|1 Oscar, 1 Golden
|Razzies||0||4 Nominations, 1
|Total Lifetime Box Office
|Average Box Office||$73,660,478||$50,768,646|
Matt dropped out of Harvard to make a go of it in Tinseltown. He appeared in a bit part in "Mystic Pizza" opposite Julia Roberts, but it was with his small role in "Courage Under Fire" that Damon first started turning heads in Hollywood. He lost 100 pounds for the part, endangering his health, even though it was going to be for a two-day shoot. His performance and his crazy dedication to a role caught the attention of Hollywood bigwigs. Not long afterwards, the script that he and Affleck wrote, "Good Will Hunting" was greenlit.
Following the huge critical and commercial success of the movie, Matt became a hot property. He starred in the Coppola-directed Grisham adaptation "The Rainmaker" and was tapped to be the titular solider in "Saving Private Ryan." He landed his first Golden Globe nomination not long afterwards for "The Talented Mr. Ripley." His career really started heating up, though, when he appeared in pair of movies that would become some of the most lucrative movie franchises of the '00s: "Ocean's Eleven" and "The Bourne Identity." Indeed, the biggest grossing movie of Damon's career to date was the final movie of the "Bourne" series. More recently, he nabbed another Oscar nomination for "Invictus."
Affleck appeared in a handful of movies like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Dazed and Confused" and "Mallrats" before the success of "Good Will Hunting" catapulted him into the limelight. At first, Affleck seems poised to be a huge star, headlining in blockbusters like "Armageddon," "Pearl Harbor," and "The Sum of All Fears" while also appearing in such critically lauded flicks as "Shakespeare in Love" and "Boiler Room." Then somewhere around '03, Affleck's career went off the rails. The fallout from that cinematic disaster "Gigli," starring Affleck and his then girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, just about killed his career.
His subsequent movie choices -- from the comic-book dud "Daredevil" to the flaccid yuletide farce "Surviving Christmas" -- proved to great fodder for Razzie nominations but did little for his standing in Hollywood. Affleck managed to turn it around with his Golden Globe nominated turn as George Reeves in "Hollywoodland." He garnered further praise for his directorial debut "Gone Baby Gone." The second flick he helmed, September's "The Town," proved to be a surprise box-office and critical success, making him now one of Tinseltown's most in-demand directors.
The Verdict: MATT DAMON
At this point in the game, the nod goes to Damon. Slowly and steadily, he has developed that rare thing in Hollywood: a critically lauded body of work that still sports an impressive box-office total. He has a higher domestic gross than Ben, and he has that additional Oscar nomination, too. But after his crash-and-burn early in the last decade, Affleck is clearly making a comeback. Damon recently compared Affleck's career to that of Clint Eastwood, whom he's worked with twice:
"[Ben's] just a monumentally talented guy. In a lot of ways, I always think of Clint, because Clint was doing orangutan movies, and people weren't taking him as seriously. And look at the second half of his career. He's an icon. And I really feel like that's the kind of career Ben's going to have."
Watch Matt Damon in the trailer and clips for "Hereafter":
- Clint Eastwood