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A decade ago, no one would have predicted that the star of Pearl Harbor and Gigli would become one of the best directors in Hollywood. But Ben Affleck is living proof that there are, in fact, second acts in American lives. Affleck’s first two outings behind the camera, 2007’s Gone Baby Gone and 2010’s The Town, were a promising one-two punch. But it was this season’s Argo that cemented his stature as an A-list auteur. The stranger-than-fiction film (in which he also starred alongside John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Bryan Cranston) wasn’t just a nail-biting political thriller based on a declassified slice of CIA intrigue, it was the work of an artist (yes, artist) who refuses to be pigeonholed and bucks at being told what he can and cannot do. ”I can’t handicap what people’s expectations of me are going to be,” says Affleck. ”I’ve just decided to have my own standards and work really hard. If I do a project for the right reasons and work as hard as I can, then I’m going to be happy.” —Chris Nashawaty
Image Credit: Sam Jones for EW
November 30 2012 — 12:00 AM EST
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