Ben Affleck: Actor

updated 05/08/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/2000 01:00AM

WHATEVER PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES GWYNETH PALTROW ADMIRES about Ben Affleck, she's not telling. How fortunate, then, that some of his other leading ladies are willing to dish. "Without a doubt," says Affleck's Reindeer Games costar Charlize Theron, "he's got the most beautiful skin I've ever seen on any human being." Adds Meredith Scott Lynn, who appeared with Affleck in last year's Forces of Nature: "He has good, big, strong, very capable hands." Kate Hudson, who shared screen time with Affleck in 1999's 200 Cigarettes, says that she is affected by the way "his eyes smile." And Denise Richards, who stars with Affleck in the upcoming comedy The Third Wheel, says, "His smile and his laugh light up a room, Ben is a very genuine person, and that shines through." Affleck, 27, can be modest too. "I never thought of myself as good-looking," the 6'3" actor protested in February to Today's Matt Lauer. "Nobody said, This kid's so good-looking, we've got to make him the lead.' " Growing up in a working-class area of Cambridge, Mass., two blocks away from buddy Matt Damon, "Ben developed a strong social consciousness and loyalty," says his dad, Tim, 56, a photographer, who was divorced from Affleck's mom, Chris, 57, a teacher, in 1984. "He rubbed shoulders with all kinds of people." That experience helped Affleck master a wide acting range. And while the camera often captures the actor's playful side, it is off-again, on-again girlfriend Paltrow, 27, who brings out the rest. She convinced him to costar with her in the romantic drama Bounce, due in October. He plays a carefree bachelor who falls in love with a young widow portrayed by Paltrow, "Gwyneth wanted him to do a part that showed he had other things going on inside," says Don Roos, who directed the film. "She wanted to show that there's a real man inside him, a thinker and a sensitive guy."

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