Assassins, mobsters and Batman: The year in Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck
Actor, director, writer and producer Ben Affleck talks about the past year from his Santa Monica office earlier this month. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

On a blustery early-December afternoon in Santa Monica, Ben Affleck sat on the rooftop of Pearl Street Films, the production company he founded with Matt Damon, having just come out of a script meeting for a planned solo Batman movie.

Affleck is set to star as the caped crusader in the film, which is as-yet untitled, and is also attached to direct. But asked about rumors circulating on the Internet that the movie will begin shooting imminently, he shook his head and chuckled.

“People keep saying that and I don’t know why,” he said. “I guess it’s hard to grasp the whole nature of development. You don’t realize that the vast majority of movies are in this swamp of development where they kind of ooze along slowly – and most of them never get made.”

He laughed. “Sometimes I feel like I just come here and sit at the computer and I’m like, ‘Just … push … keys! Make … words …. happen!’ ”

The fact is, 2016 has been a particularly fruitful — and at times challenging — year for Affleck, one that has seen him, at age 44, pushing himself into new terrain as an actor, a director, a writer and a box-office commodity.

In March, following months of anticipation, Affleck made his debut as the Dark Knight in the big-budget superhero mash-up “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” a role he briefly reprised in August’s “Suicide Squad.” In September, the actor played an autistic forensic accountant with the Jason Bourne-style skills of an assassin in the outside-the-box action-thriller “The Accountant.” Together, “Batman v Superman” and “The Accountant” made over a billion dollars worldwide for Warner Bros.

Capping this busy year, Affleck’s latest directorial effort, the period crime drama “Live by Night,” will open Christmas Day in limited release in New York and Los Angeles before going wide Jan. 13.

In “Live by Night,” Affleck stars as Joe Coughlin, the son of a Boston police captain who rises through the ranks of a major crime organization during the height of Prohibition. As with his 2007 directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone,” the actor adapted the screenplay from a novel by fellow Boston native…