PrimeTime: The Real Ben Affleck

ByABC News
November 15, 2000, 4:58 PM

Nov. 16 -- By now were used to his glamorous image and his often dashing on-screen persona.

But before all the flashbulbs and the magazine covers, Ben Affleck, a restless kid from a working-class family, roamed the streets of Cambridge, Mass., living only a few blocks away from the golden elite at Harvard Square.

Affleck took PrimeTimes Diane Sawyer on a tour of the neighborhood and showed her the place he says he still loves best in the world his childhood home. I still have this place to go home to, he says. Its like the last root.

Inside, photos on the dining room table show the mother he adores, the schoolteacher who encouraged him to embrace books and poetry. There are also images of his lifelong friend, Matt Damon, with whom Affleck co-wrote and starred in Good Will Hunting, the film that catapulted them to fame.

For years, weve heard about their bossom buddy relationship. Damon, a couple of years older, had a profound influence on young Affleck, admittedly a smart kid a little too willing to get by on charm. I would always get things like not working up to his potential because I knew what I had to do to get by, he says.

Matt was definitely more of a kind of achiever. It was inconceivable to him that you wouldnt get an A or do really well, he recalls. So I did really well my first two years in high school and then when Matt left, I would cut class and get in all kinds of trouble.

Switching GearsPerforming was a passion that remained constant throughout his high school years. And it was a moment right around graduation when Afflecks drama teacher congratulated him for his performance in a play that Affleck says helped him through his years as a struggling actor. I had looked up to him and I really admired him, but I was really rebellious, he recalls. And he said if you want to do this I think you could be successful and you should try it.