In an unflinching interview with The New York Times published Tuesday afternoon, Ben Affleck admitted that his drinking created problems in his marriage to Jennifer Garner, and called their divorce “the biggest regret of my life.”
Ahead of Affleck’s upcoming movie “The Way Back,” in which the actor plays a former high school basketball star whose alcoholism has derailed his life, Affleck spoke bluntly about his own issues with drinking.
“People with compulsive behavior, and I am one, have this kind of basic discomfort all the time that they’re trying to make go away,” he told the Times. “You’re trying to make yourself feel better with eating or drinking or sex or gambling or shopping or whatever. But that ends up making your life worse. Then you do more of it to make that discomfort go away. Then the real pain starts. It becomes a vicious cycle you can’t break. That’s at least what happened to me.”
Affleck also said that it took him a long time to “fundamentally, deeply, without a hint of doubt, admit to myself that I am an alcoholic,” and that he began drinking more heavily in 2015 and 2016 as his marriage fell apart.
“I drank relatively normally for a long time,” Affleck said. “What happened was that I started drinking more and more when my marriage was falling apart. This was 2015, 2016. My drinking, of course, created more marital problems.
“The biggest regret of my life is this divorce,” Affleck continued. “Shame is really toxic. There is no positive byproduct of shame. It’s just stewing in a toxic, hideous feeling of low self-worth and self-loathing.”
In one scene in the trailer for “The Way Back,” Affleck’s character Jack Cunningham is visited in rehab by his ex-wife (Janina Gavankar, “The Morning Show”), where she tries to get through to him.
“I know you’re suffering,” Gavankar says. “I just want you to be happy again, but you’ve got to want it, too.”
“The Way Back” director Gavin O’Connor, who previously worked with Affleck on “The Accountant,” told The Times that the actor strived to “confront his own issues” by filming the movie and that he had a “total breakdown” on set after completing the scene.
“It was like a floodgate opened up,” O’Connor said. “It was startling and powerful. I think that was a very personal moment in the movie. I think that was him.”