Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt was born on August 15, 1972, in Berkeley, California. His family moved to Massachusetts when he was three, living in Falmouth, where his brother Casey was born, before settling in Cambridge. His mother, Christopher Anne "Chris" Boldt, was a Harvard-educated elementary school teacher. His father, Timothy Byers Affleck, was an aspiring playwright who was "mostly unemployed." He worked sporadically as a carpenter, auto mechanic, bookie, electrician, bartender, and janitor at Harvard. In the mid-1960s, he had been an actor and stage manager with the Theater Company of Boston.During Affleck's childhood, his father had a self-described "severe, chronic problem with alcoholism", and Affleck has recalled him drinking "all day ... every day". His father was "very difficult" , and Affleck felt a sense of "relief" at the age of 11 when his parents divorced, and his father exited the family home. His father continued to drink heavily and eventually became homeless, spending two years living on the streets of Cambridge. When Affleck was 16, his father entered a rehabilitation facility in Indio, California. He lived at the facility for twelve years to maintain his sobriety and worked there as an addiction counselor.Affleck was raised in a politically active, liberal household. He and his brother, Casey, were surrounded by people who worked in the arts; the boys regularly attended theater performances with their mother and were encouraged to make their own home movies. David Wheeler, a family friend, later remembered Affleck as a "very bright and intensely curious" child. The brothers auditioned for roles in local commercials and film productions because of their mother's friendship with a Cambridge-area casting director, and Affleck first acted professionally at the age of seven. His mother saved his wages in a college trust fund and hoped her son would ultimately become a teacher, worrying that acting was an insecure and "frivolous" profession. When Affleck was 13, he filmed a children's television program in Mexico. He learned to speak Spanish during a year spent travelling around the country with his mother and brother.As a Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school student, Affleck acted in theater productions and was inspired by drama teacher Gerry Speca. He became close friends with fellow student Matt Damon, whom he had known since the age of eight. Although Damon was two years older, the pair had "identical interests" and both wanted to pursue acting careers. They traveled to New York together for acting auditions and saved money for train and airline tickets in a joint bank account. While Affleck had high SAT scores, he was largely an unfocused student with poor attendance. He spent a few months studying Spanish at the University of Vermont, chosen because of its proximity to his then-girlfriend, but he left after fracturing his hip while playing basketball. At 18, Affleck moved to Los Angeles, studying Middle Eastern affairs at Occidental College for a year and a half.