Affleck reborn: From Oscar to ‘Gigli’ to Oscar

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Ben Affleck taking home the Oscar for Best Picture for "Argo" came as no surprise. In fact, the win marks pretty familiar territory for Affleck, who has come full circle back to being an Academy Awards darling after a handful of wrong (and some really wrong) turns in his life and career.

Affleck was first on the Oscar stage 15 years ago, when he and Matt Damon won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for "Good Will Hunting." Affleck was 25 at the time, already with a few decent film credits under his, and filled with a certain youthful exuberance.

Or, some might say, cockiness.

"There's no way we're doing this in less than 20 seconds," said Affleck after he and Damon were handed their statuettes by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Affleck then proceeded to frantically thank everyone involved with the film, as well as his and Damon's respective mothers and even "Cuba Gooding Jr. for showing us how to do an acceptance speech."

Affleck's excitement was perceived by many as too brash -- he barely let Damon get a word in edgewise. While it jumpstarted a lucrative acting career ("Armageddon," "Pearl Harbor," and "Daredevil"), Affleck soon found himself fronting reviled disasters like "Gigli" and "Jersey Girl" … and caught in a whirlwind tabloid romance with Jennifer Lopez that all but destroyed his credibility and made him a punchline.

He and Lopez didn't last. They called it quits just before they were scheduled to wed in 2004.

And then, after quietly marrying "Daredevil" costar Jennifer Garner the following year, Affleck's career took a major turn.

He reinvented himself as a director, making his debut behind the camera with the critically hailed Boston-set crime drama "Gone Baby Gone" (2007), which scored a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Amy Ryan. After his well-received turn as a morally compromised congressman opposite Russell Crowe in "State of Play" (2009), Affleck starred in and directed 2010's "The Town", a Beantown-based bank heist thriller. The film was a hit with both audiences and critics, earning an Oscar nod for Jeremy Renner.

Which brings us to tonight as "Argo." Snubbed in the Best Director race, Affleck found himself on the Oscar stage delivering his first acceptance speech in 15 years as a co-producer of the Best Picture winner.

The older, wiser, humbler, battle-scarred Affleck once again tried to ramble through a list of every single person who worked on the film, showing that he's still got some of that youthful excitement. But he calmed down and choked up when he mentioned his wife and children, closing his speech on an emotional note.

"I'd just like to say, I was here 15 years ago or something and I had no idea what I was doing. I stood out here in front of you all and really just a kid. I went out and I never thought I would be back here.

"You have to work harder than you think you possibly can," said a breathless Affleck, near tears. "You can't hold grudges -- it's hard, but you can't hold grudges. And it doesn't matter how you get knocked down in life; that's going happen. All that matters is you've got to get up."

And so ends the reign of "Argo" during this year's awards season. But this is just the beginning for the rebooted Ben Affleck, who will next be seen on screen in Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder," opening April 12, in "Runner, Runner," a crime thriller costarring Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton set to hit theaters on September 27. As for his next directing gig, nothing's been officially announced yet -- though we're sure there are many more excited and emotional acceptance speeches to come.