A few years before he became a Hollywood superstar, Ben Affleck had a small role in the 1992 teen movie School Ties. Affleck’s movie career took off in the mid-’90s, and he could always be relied on to give a down-to-earth and natural performance no matter what part he played. His creative partnerships with people like Matt Damon and Kevin Smith yielded great results, and he scored his first Oscar for co-writing 1997’s Good Will Hunting, which he also starred in with Damon. Though School Ties features one of his earliest roles, Affleck’s performance in the movie showed every bit of the potential that would make him a star.
Noted today for its illustrious cast of future stars, School Ties was not a hit by any stretch of the imagination. It lost money at the box office, grossing only $14 million (via Box Office Mojo). Despite that, the movie received decent reviews, and critics specifically singled out the performances as the movie’s brightest spot. Making only his second movie appearance ever, more than a decade after his debut at age nine in The Dark End of the Street, Affleck has a rather minor role in School Ties, but he holds his own among other great actors like Damon and Brendan Fraser, and he stands out even in a supporting capacity.
Ben Affleck Played Chesty Smith In School Ties
Playing a supporting role alongside Anthony Rapp’s character, Richard “McGoo” Collins, Ben Affleck appears in School Ties as his tough-as-nails roommate, Chesty Smith. Not only is he Richard’s roommate, but he’s also ostensibly his bodyguard who does his dirty work whenever requested. Richard spends most of the movie mercilessly bullying David Greene (Fraser) due to his Jewish heritage, and Chesty is always there to protect his nerdy pal. Though it’s a role that could have gone to any rough-and-tumble actor, Affleck has the look that sells the part.
Set within the halls of a preppy Northeastern boarding school, School Ties needed a cast of young actors who truly looked the part when they played the children of wealthy elites. Though Ben Affleck’s real-life working-class background helped contribute to his naturalistic acting style, his handsome looks added layers to the character of Chesty Smith, elevating him above a simple hired hand. School Ties is heavy-handed with its message, but the casting of actors like Affleck shows that bullying could have any face.
School Ties Was Ben Affleck & Matt Damon’s Second Movie Together
Many of Ben Affleck’s best movies involve his long-time creative partner Matt Damon. Technically, School Ties was the pair’s second collaboration. Damon has a larger role in the movie as the head bully, Charlie Dillon, but they share some screen time. Before School Ties, Damon and Affleck worked as extras for a scene in the 1989 baseball drama Field of Dreams, though they can’t be seen in the movie. School Ties offered more of a preview of the wonderful things the two would do together later on in the ’90s and beyond. Their combined efforts later brought them great critical success with 1997’s Good Will Hunting and 2023’s Air.