Ten years ago, 14 years old and walking down Boylston Street, Ben Affleck looked up to this hotel suite. He saw the sky reflecting on a span of shiny windows, and he imagined the glittery lives being lived inside them. He did not see his own future.
Today, feet resting on a coffee table, Affleck sits tentatively within the cushiony confines of that suite. As Bostonians walk along the Public Garden below, Affleck laughs warmly at the good fortune that has brought him among those who receive room service and valet.. . .
He smiles at the thought that, at least for this visit, he doesn't need to use the foldout couch at his mother's Central Square home. "I really feel like the luckiest man alive," Affleck says. "What can you say when what happens in your life exceeds what you thought was possible? If someone asked me years ago, `What's your dream?' I'd have said, `I would like to be in a movie that I wrote with my best friend that was directed by Gus Van Sant and stars Robin Williams.' It ranks up there with `I'd like to be able to fly' or `I'd like to have 7 billion dollars.' "
. . . Affleck is surprisingly passionate about filming locally, and he smiles at how stubborn he and Damon were on the issue. "We became known as the two guys who were fixated on Boston. . . .
Affleck feels that Boston itself plays a character in "Good Will Hunting,". . . "So much of what we want to do is present Boston the way we knew it growing up here. Because we feel like it has never really been done. Everything from the dialect to the specific kinds of culture, the way people live. It's very particular, and interesting, especially at a time when so much of the country is becoming generic. . . . Boston is still a place that has its own identity, its own flavor. Often when that's attempted in the movies it comes off as either caricature or cutesy. . . "
Affleck says his "closest friends in the world" are those he made growing up. Many of them still live in the Boston area, as does his girlfriend,. . . He was thrilled they attended a recent advance screening of "Chasing Amy," he says. "It didn't feel like I'd really done anything until my friends saw it, you know? Then it felt like an achievement. . . .
Affleck says that if he makes it big time, and loses his freedom to the rigors of being famous in America, he won't have regrets. "If it happened to me, I'd certainly consider myself very, very lucky and just accept the downside with it. Because no matter which way you look at it, it's a whole hell of a lot better than laying brick for a living."
"Ben Affleck Grabs His Big Dream," Boston Globe, April 6, 1997.