Ben Affleck needs to find a new line of work.

I have nothing against the guy. He has served his term as movie star in an exemplary fashion. He drank to excess, gambled obscene piles of money and was photographed way too much. He said foolish things to the wrong people, lavished cocktail waitresses with extravagant tips and even dated Jennifer Lopez.

What more could anyone ask of a movie star, except perhaps a short jail term? The problem with Affleck is in his ability to make the right decisions when it comes to the movie roles he chooses.

In the history of Hollywood, has any person in his position ever made more wrong choices? I’m not talking about a journeyman actor or a flash in the pan. But, when has there ever been a movie star who has consistently made the bad call for this amount of time?

Affleck and buddy Matt Damon won the screenwriting Oscar for “Good Will Hunting” on March 23, 1998. That is almost seven years of bad choices.

Pretty overwhelming when you see them all listed? Yes, I know I left out “Shakespeare in Love,” but I think it was overrated and could have been so much better with someone else in the Affleck role.

More than anything, this list is an indictment. These are crimes against movie audiences. It was nice that someone was willing to pay him a lot of money to appear in those movies, but doesn’t anyone ever consider the feelings of the people who go to the movies?

It is clear that Affleck should give it up. But he’s only 32, and no one can expect a 32-year-old man to sit around and do nothing. Therefore, I feel a need to help Affleck find a new career.

He once showed promise as a writer, but he is way too handsome to be a writer. No one on People magazine’s annual list of the “Most Beautiful People in the World” should ever sit hunched over a keyboard.

He’s a smooth talker so he could excel at sales, but he’s probably too well-known to be knocking on doors selling encyclopedias.

He’s a big Boston Red Sox fan, but I doubt whether they’ll take him. Besides, Matt Damon told me he’s a better hitter than Affleck.

No, it looks like the only option for Affleck is to become a professional gambler.

And I suspect that his prowess at the poker table is far superior to his talent for picking scripts.

In fact, last June, Affleck won $356,000 in a California poker tournament. This was no celebrity competition; there were some world-class players in attendance. I don’t think any of them were charmed by his million-dollar smile, either. When you go “all-in” at a professional poker tournament, there is no magic in the editing room to save you.

Personally, I think Affleck will enjoy professional gambling more than acting. These last seven years couldn’t have been a lot of fun, especially after he checked himself into a rehab center to deal with his alcoholism.

Once he was sober, that list of movies must have been devastating to read. I’m having trouble reading it, and I wasn’t in any of them.

Two years ago, I interviewed Affleck, and there already was a lot of talk about his choices. Many industry insiders pointed to his pal Damon as someone who made smarter choices. Affleck was seen as someone who ignored good acting roles in favor of star-making roles.

“It is an oversimplification to say that about my choices,” the actor said at the time.

“If I had been offered “The Talented Mr. Ripley’ and “All the Pretty Horses’ (both Damon films), I would have done them. But you take the opportunities you can. I took “Armageddon’ to be seen. The whole point is to get people to see you as viable. You do “Armageddon’ to get “Shakespeare in Love.’

“That’s part of the Faustian bargain you make in this business.”

In the same interview, I asked Affleck if he could ever leave the movie business.

“The phone stops ringing for everybody in this business eventually. You get your run and then you’re finished.”

I think he’s had his run.

“Phantoms” (1998)

“Armageddon” (1998)

“200 Cigarettes” (1999)

“Forces of Nature” (1999)

“Dogma” (1999)

“Boiler Room” (2000)

“Reindeer Games” (2000)

“Bounce” (2000)

“Pearl Harbor” (2001)

“Daddy and Them” (2001)

“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” (2001)

“Changing Lanes” (2002)

“The Sum of All Fears” (2002)

“The Third Wheel” (2002)

“Daredevil” (2003)

“Gigli” (2003)

“Paycheck” (2003)

“Jersey Girl” (2004)

“Surviving Christmas” (2004)



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