Ben Affleck Soars to Sexy

He's tall, dark and handsome – and, according to those closest to him, he's also funny, smart and loyal to a fault. With all those outstanding qualities – and that killer smile – it's no wonder Ben Affleck is PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive for 2002. Take a peek at his rise to superstardom!

GWYNETH'S GUY

Good Will Hunting also yielded Affleck a major romance – with Gwyneth Paltrow. After meeting at the film's 1997 premiere, the couple – who costarred in 1998's Shakespeare in Love and 2000's Bounce – dated on and off for two years. "In Gwyneth, he found a match of the minds," Forces of Nature director Bronwen Hughes told PEOPLE this month.