Ben Affleck: The New Jack Ryan

As CIA analyst Jack Ryan, actor Ben Affleck tries to prevent the onset of World War III in his latest movie. Affleck visits The Early Show Wednesday to talk about such topics as learning to speak Russian and the subject matter of the film.

The movie is based on the Tom Clancy novel "The Sum Of All Fears," which was published in August 1991. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than six months and has sold more than 6 million copies.

Before tackling the role, Affleck told The Early Show anchor Jane Clayson, he spoke with both Clancy and Harrison Ford, the actor who played Jack Ryan in previous movies made from Clancy novels.

"It was very intimidating, very daunting," he says.

This is the fourth of Clancy's novels to be brought to the screen by producer Mace Neufeld, who also produced the global hits "The Hunt for Red October," which won an Academy Award and grossed over $188 million worldwide; "Patriot Games," which grossed over $173 million worldwide; and "Clear and Present Danger," which grossed over $212 million worldwide and was nominated for two Oscars.

Moviemakers also spent time getting the CIA protocols right: "It was important that we replicate everything, down to the littlest detail, for the CIA, "Affleck says.

Although the film was shot before Sept. 11, Affleck says filmmakers made no changes in the movie before releasing it this spring. There are valid concerns about the effect on audiences of a film about terrorism, he says.

"I'm not sure how people will react," he says. "They will probably react in different ways."

Fast Facts About Ben Affleck:

  • Born Benjamin Geza Boldt Affleck in Berkeley, Calif., Aug. 15, 1972 and raised in Cambridge, Mass.
  • 1980: Appeared in PBS documentary series "The Voyage of the Mimi" beginning at age 8.
  • 1986: Made network TV debut in an "ABC Afterschool Special" titled "Wanted: The Perfect Guy"; played Madeline Kahn's son
  • 1987: TV miniseries debut in "Hands of a Stranger" (NBC)
  • 1992: Feature film debut, "School Ties"; also co-starred with childhood pal Matt Damon.
  • 1993: Had regular role on the short-lived NBC series "Against the Grain."
  • 1995: Directed short film "I Murdered My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meathook and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney."
  • 1996: "Good Will Hunting", a script co-written with Matt Damon sold to Miramax; filmed and released in 1997 with both co-starring; shared a Best Original Screenplay Oscar.
  • 1997: Starred as a comic book artist who falls for a bisexual woman in "Chasing Amy" directed by Kevin Smith. He also formed Pearl Street Productions with Matt Damon.
  • 1998: Co-starred in the action blockbuster "Armageddon", directed by Michael Bay; Appeared opposite then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes in "Shakespeare in Love."
  • 1999: Played a bartender in the ensemble comedy-drama "200 Cigarettes." Teamed with Damon to play a pair of renegade angels in "Dogma", which was written and directed by Kevin Smith.
  • 2000: Starred as an ex-con in "Reindeer Games", directed by John Frankenheimer. He led the ensemble cast of "The Boiler Room", about Wall Street brokers. Voiced the title character in the direct-to-video DreamWorks sequel "Joseph: King of Dreams." And was cast as an alcoholic advertising executive guilt-ridden after swapping plane tickets with a man who is killed in a crash in "Bounce", co-starring Gwyneth Paltrow as the man's young widow with whom his character falls in love. They had broken up before filming.
  • 2001: With Damon and backed by HBO and Miramax, Affleck sponsored Project Greenlight, a screenwriting competition that would result in a produced motion picture; He had a leading role in the WWII-era drama "Pearl Harbor", although the film was perceived to be a flop, it has made $400 million at the box office (worldwide). With Damon, Affleck also co-executive produced and acted in "The Third Wheel" (filmed in 1999), scripted by buddy Jay Lacopo. Also with Damon and others, he made an appearance in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back", written and directed by Kevin Smith. And he reprised the role of Holden from "Chasing Amy" as well as appeared as himself.
  • 2002: Teamed with Samuel L Jackson in the thriller "Changing Lanes", the film was a big commercial success since its debut in March, taking in $65 million so far. He wrote and executive produced the ABC reality-based series "The Runner." After 9/11 debut was postponed in definitely. He executive produced and appeared in the HBO series "Project Greenlight", about the scriptwriting contest he co-sponsored. He also served as an executive producer on "Stolen Summer", the film which won the Project Greenlight competition. Soon he will executive produce the ABC reality series "Push" described as "another bold step in the re- invention of modern entertainment," "Push, Nevada" is the story of "a mild-mannered IRS agent who travels to a remote desert region in search of missing money and stumbles into a strange small town where mystery, danger and peculiar characters lurk around every off-kilter corner." Viewers will be invited to solve puzzles and win money.
  • Earlier this year, he finished filming "Gigli" with Jennifer Lopez (due out at Christmas) and is currently filming the title role of "Daredevil," based on the Marvel comic.
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