Ben Affleck is hunting for some audience goodwill.
After two years out of the spotlight, the actor whose reputation was scorched by overheated media coverage of his love life and a handful of lackluster films is back on screen.
The first role after his self-imposed exile: George Reeves, the tragic Superman
actor of the 1950s whose mysterious death is explored in Hollywoodland
, opening Friday.
Affleck, 34, is receiving some of the strongest reviews since his 1997 breakthrough in Chasing Amy
and goodwill Hunting
, which earned him a screenplay Oscar with Matt Damon.
Affleck's new movie also is drawing comparisons with his life. Both Affleck and Reeves faced career crises amid withering press and a public that projected the actors' screen images onto their real lives. Unlike Reeves, who is believed to have committed suicide, Affleck used the career grief to fuel his performance, says Hollywoodland
screenwriter and executive producer Paul Bernbaum.
"It's about who you really are, as opposed to who people think you are," Bernbaum says. "Whatever role (Affleck) played in the press, that wasn't him. When you're followed 24 hours a day, you can't be yourself. And George had the same problem. He wasn't Superman, but that's all anyone wanted to see. Ben could really relate to that."