Ahead of the March 2020 release of “The Way Back,” a sports-drama about a high school basketball coach facing an addiction problem, lead actor Ben Affleck has opened up about his private — and at times, public — struggle with alcoholism, as well as his divorce to Hollywood actress Jennifer Garner.
“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,” Affleck told The New York Times in a deeply personal interview. “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.”
“I drank relatively normally for a long time,” continued the 47-year-old actor. “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.”
Back in 2005, Affleck married actress Jennifer Garner. According to Us Magazine, the couple announced plans to divorce in 2015, and agreed to a “co-parenting commitment” for raising their three kids, but the move took three years to finalize. During the divorce period, Affleck was admitted to rehab two times.
In October 2019, Affleck acknowledged relapsing after TMZ reported that the actor was stumbling outside a charity Halloween party: “It happens; it’s a slip, but I’m not going to let it derail me,” Affleck told the news agency the following morning.
Reflecting on the tumultuous period in his life, Affleck called his divorce from Jennifer Garner the “biggest regret of my life,” reports the Times.
“The biggest regret of my life is this divorce,” Affleck told the news agency. “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.”
“It’s not particularly healthy for me to obsess over the failures — the relapses — and beat myself up,” said Affleck. “I have certainly made mistakes. I have certainly done things that I regret. But you’ve got to pick yourself up, learn from it, learn some more, try to move forward.”
“It took me a long time to fundamentally, deeply, without a hint of doubt, admit to myself that I am an alcoholic,” Affleck revealed to the news agency. “The next drink will not be different.”
Affleck also explained to the Times why he lied to ExtraTV in 2016 about having a massive, full-color tattoo of a phoenix on his back.
“I resented that somebody got a picture of it by spying on me,” Affleck told the news agency. “It felt invasive. But you’re right. I could have said, ‘That’s none of your business.’ I guess I got a kick out of messing with ‘Extra.’ Is your tattoo real or not real? Of course, it’s real! No, I put a fake tattoo on my back and then hid it.”
Read the full profile here.