Ben Affleck gets as candid as he’s ever been in a new interview with the New York Times, discussing his alcoholism, rehab, relapses and regrets — the biggest of which involves the end of his marriage to Jennifer Garner.
Part of that candor comes from the new movie he’s promoting, “The Way Back”, in which he plays a high school basketball coach with a drinking problem that torpedoes his marriage and lands him in rehab — a role almost uncomfortably similar to the past few years of his actual life.
“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 explained. “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.”
His drinking, he added, hadn’t always been a problem. “I drank relatively normally for a long time. 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,” he continued.
“The biggest regret of my life is this divorce. 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,” added Affleck.
“It’s not particularly healthy for me to obsess over the failures — the relapses — and beat myself up,” he said. “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.”
Going to rehab for the third time in 2018 (following previous stints in 2001 and 2017) isn’t something he’s proud of, but he recognizes it’s part of the recovery process. He does, however, wish it hadn’t all played out so publicly.
“Relapse is embarrassing, obviously,” he said. “I wish it didn’t happen. I really wish it wasn’t on the internet for my kids to see. Jen and I did our best to address it and be honest.”
Crediting in-recovery actors Bradley Cooper, Robert Downey Jr. being “supportive” during he struggles, Affleck shared some of the life-changing lessons he’s learned.
“One of the things about recovery that I think people sometimes overlook is the fact that it inculcates certain values,” he admitted. “Be honest. Be accountable. Help other people. Apologize when you’re wrong.”