Ben Affleck Describes ‘Brutal’ Construction Job He Worked with Matt Damon Before Acting

Ben Affleck has reinvented himself several times in his career. In the ‘90s he went from indie darling in Kevin Smith movies and his own Good Will Hunting (with childhood friend Matt Damon) to blockbuster movie star. Then he became an acclaimed director in his own right. Then he tried a second go at superheroes playing Batman in the DC films. 

Ben Affleck | Adam Christopher/NBC/NBCUniversalUniversal

Now, Affleck is focused on acting again. He went on The Kelly Clarkson Show on March 5 to promote The Way Back. Affleck plays a basketball coach and the young actors who played the players joined him on the show. Clarkson got Affleck talking about jobs he and Damon worked before they become actors. The Way Back is now in theaters.

Ben Affleck wasn’t set for life as a child actor

Affleck’s first credit dates back to 1981 and he appeared in several TV movies and afterschool specials as a kid. 

Ben Affleck and Kelly Clarkson
Ben Affleck, Kelly Clarkson | Adam Christopher/NBC/NBCUniversalUniversal

“Yeah, but that was PBS,” Affleck joked. “There was no pay. You work 15 hours at 7 years old but they’d pay you $50. I did act. My mother made me set that money aside for college and then I didn’t end up going to college, but she still wouldn’t let me have it. I had to work.”

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon both worked construction

Affleck and Damon grew up together in Boston. Affleck wouldn’t get a movie credit until 1988’s Mystic Pizza. They worked day jobs just like anyone else.

(l-r) Melvin Gregg, Will Ropp, Ben Affleck | Adam Christopher/NBC/NBCUniversalUniversal

“I mostly worked construction,” Affleck said. “We worked construction summers in high school and after that. That was the only real job I had. [Also] a croissant shop, a movie theater, a few of those things but so Matt and I worked at this construction site. We did demo and were low man on the totem pole.”

The ‘brutal’ day that made Ben Affleck regret skipping college

Affleck can laugh about it now because he’s made it in Hollywood. Back then, it seemed like construction was going to break him.

Matt Damon in Ford v Ferrari
Matt Damon in Ford v Ferrari | Merrick Morton/Twentieth Century Fox

“I remember one time going by this guy, me and Matt, ‘Oh man, this is brutal,’” Affleck said. “I was tired and complaining. Guy walks buy and goes, ‘That’s why you should’ve gone to college.’ That guy probably now has a house renovation show.”

‘Good Will Hunting’ saved them from manual labor

Affleck and Damon would keep acting, and costarred together in School Ties. They would ultimately star in their own script for Good Will Hunting, but that took time. Selling the script was the first step towards making acting a full time career.

“I worked odd jobs until we got Good Will Hunting,” Affleck said. “We sold the script and I thought I was set for life. $300,000, I had to split it with Matt. He got 150, then agent, manager, taxes. $75,000 so the last thing I do is buy a new Jeep Cherokee for $56,000 wich left me with $20,000 which almost covered the insurance for the year. So I managed to basically hit the lottery and simultaneously go broke.”