Known for years as the younger Affleck (in fact, some still know him as such) or Ben Affleck’s creepy brother, Casey Affleck has definitely carved out his own path. While Ben is mostly a mainstream actor, Casey works mostly in the indie, art-house scene. Now, some will say that Casey is the better actor between the two and they’re not wrong.
Practically raised in the business, Casey’s mother would frequently take her children to the theatre at a young age. Her casting friend would cast them as extras whenever a film rolled into town. From then on, an 18-year-old Casey would move to the capital of the movie-making business, living with his brother and Matt Damon. Between working as a busboy, going to school, Casey would have the odd movie role here and there.
It wasn’t until Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were able to get their script for “Good Will Hunting” made that Casey started getting more parts. It wasn’t until Steve Buscemi’s “Lonesome Jim” that he had his first leading role. And it wasn’t until 2007 that he stepped out of his brother’s shadow.
Casey doesn’t seem comfortable with fame or the celebrity side of acting which may have affected his early career. Spending two years making the excellent mockumentary “I’m Still Here” with friend Joaquin Phoenix after the stellar year he had in 2007 may have done his career more harm than good. But he’s recovered nicely winning his first Oscar earlier this year.
Even before the Oscar, Affleck had given some amazing performances. Sure, they’re not all good. His subtle style worked against him on ‘Interstellar” but he wasn’t given much to work with there anyway. His performance in “Ocean’s Eleven” was fun but as his character got pushed to the side more and more in the sequels he seemed to lose interest. He was awkwardly miscast in the comedy caper “Tower Heist”.
However, when everything aligns, Casey Affleck is a joy to behold. He’s one of the best actors of his generation and his career can only get stronger from here on out.
10. Ocean’s Eleven (2011)
George Clooney and his cronies star in this fun remake about a group of misfits who rob three casinos simultaneously. He plays one half of the wisecracking Malloy twins, which reportedly the Coen brothers were considered for (not like they would’ve accepted, but how interesting that would’ve been).
There’s nothing earth-shattering about Affleck’s performance or role in this, but it’s the rare role where we see him in something fun. It didn’t work so well in “Tower Heist”, which wasn’t that fun to begin with. With such big names, his absence wouldn’t take anything away from the film, but he still gives it a certain charm.
Too bad the sequels weren’t as good, as his character seemed to be more of an afterthought than anything else. The back-and-forth banter between Virgil Malloy (Affleck) and Turk Malloy (Scott Caan) was easily the best thing in “Ocean’s Eleven” and a fun addition to the huge ensemble.
9. Gerry (2002)
Reteaming with “Good Will Hunting” director Gus Van Sant, Affleck and Matt Damon star as two friends lost in the desert. That’s pretty much it, plot-wise. There’s lots of walking and fewer talking for reasons unexplained.
“Gerry” is that type of experimental film that few people have seen. Not that it’s terrible or unwatchable; in fact, it’s pretty good. It’s just that not much happens over its 100-minute runtime. The lack of dialogue and sparse soundtrack may make it challenging for certain viewers.
Co-written by Affleck, Damon and Van Sant, “Gerry” was a step in the right direction for Affleck’s early career. It took him to the next level as an actor where he experimented, improvised and contributed to the creative process. Relying more on unspoken subtext than words or actions, this existentialist film tells us all it needs to through its two-man performances.
We know or can assume certain things about the characters and their relationship based on their mannerisms and looks at each other. Lost in the desert for days without food, water or even a map, the two Gerrys (supposedly the name of both characters) just keep walking without saying much, or blaming each other or panicking that they might die.
Affleck makes a subtle impression, where we see the dynamics of their relationship and predicament of their situation. One of his strengths has always been portraying wordless emotions that could mean just about anything, and it works perfectly here.
8. ParaNorman (2012)
Norman Babcock has the ability to see the dead, which makes him a bit of an outcast. When a centuries-old witch’s curse raises the dead and wreaks havoc on his town, it’s up to Norman and a group of friends to save the day.
The biggest surprise after watching “ParaNorman” is that Affleck voiced the supporting character Mitch Downe. Sure, we’ve always known that Affleck has some comedic chops that sadly haven’t been used to their full potential. But what’s surprising is that Mitch Downe is a jock, and the soft-spoken Affleck, who’s never been associated with such, knocks it out the park.
Of course, this is an animated film so it’s different than the real thing, but the role utilizes Affleck’s comedic side and talent with certain voices and accents. The other surprise is that his character is openly gay, a first for mainstream animation, which received a lot of attention.
7. Good Will Hunting (1997)
“Good Will Hunting” is the film that put the careers of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and to a lesser extent, Casey Affleck, on the map. Written by Damon and big brother Ben, the film follows the story of genius janitor who has a chance at a better life while working through his issues in court-ordered therapy sessions.
This film hasn’t aged well and seems to be more revered due to its story behind the camera rather than in front of it. There are many great scenes and performances but it’s filled with so many clichés and unbelievable moments that it’s hard to take seriously. Sure, the late great Robin Williams is spectacular and that Elliott Smith song is catchy. But it does feel overrated.
Anyways, ranting aside, young Casey Affleck definitely gets his moments in a part specifically written for him. Playing one of the friends to Damon’s Will Hunting, Morgan O’Malley seems to echo Affleck’s then-career. A character who wants to be taken seriously and is there for his friends when it counts.
A short but memorable performance that showed Affleck’s excellent timing. His his deadpan humor and ability to deliver a three-dimensional character in just a few scenes is what made him stand out.
6. Out of the Furnace (2013)
Rodney Baze is an Iraq war veteran who just can’t seem to adjust to civilian life. He racks up some enormous gambling debts which he tries to pay off in rigged bare-knuckle fights. When he goes missing, it’s up to his uncle and his brother Russell (Christian Bale) to find out what happened.
Scott Cooper’s film does have its flaws and a certain predictability to it. The script lets down the amazing cast with Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe and Zoe Saldana. Affleck isn’t even in the whole thing, but when he is, things get a little interesting.
Playing the younger brother who can’t keep out of trouble, and who has his share of demons and secrets, fits him perfectly. War is a terrible thing; it can be just as terrible for soldiers who’ve managed to return home. There are scenes where Affleck and Bale communicate silently that ring of honest emotion and when they do scream at each other, it’s just as powerful.