In his upcoming movie, “The Way Back,” Ben Affleck plays an alcoholic overcoming his demons – a role that’s all too familiar for him.
The 47-year-old actor’s personal struggles with addiction mirror what his character goes through during the film. For the first time in his career, Affleck gave a candid interview about his own battle with alcoholism in an interview with the New York Times.
“The Next Drink Will Not Be Different.”
“It took me a long time to fundamentally, deeply, without a hint of doubt, admit to myself that I am an alcoholic,” Ben Affleck said in the interview. “The next drink will not be different.”
With addiction running rampant in his family, Affleck’s father got sober at the age of 19. In addition, his aunt was addicted to heroin, and his brother Casey, also had drinking problems. Affleck himself has been to rehab three times, with his most recent episode in 2018.
“Relapse is embarrassing, obviously. 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 to be honest,” he said.
The actor also reflected on his divorce from actress Jennifer Garner, noting that he drank more when him and Garner were having issues, which only made problems worse.
“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 said in the 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. That’s at least what happened to me.”
“I drank relatively normally for a long time,” he added. “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.”
Affleck also said that “the biggest regret of my life is this divorce,” but noted it wasn’t “particularly healthy” for him to “obsess over the failures – the relapses – and beat myself up.” Admitting that he’s “certainly made mistakes,” and had more regrets, he said he’s now focused on what he could learn from them and “try to move forward.”
The Way Back
His new movie, “The Way Back,” was directed by Gavin O’Connor, who reflected on Affleck’s role in the film. “I think that Ben, in an artistic way, in a deeply human way, wanted to confront his own issues through this character and heal,” O’Connor said by phone. Jack Cunningham (Affleck) is a construction worker coping with devastating personal loss. His home away from home is a lowlife bar, the kind of place you can smell before you go in. Sometimes he holes up in his apartment to down cases of beer. He starts each morning by drinking beer in the shower, the can balanced on a sad soap caddy.”
Coming full circle, Affleck states he’s committed to sobriety for the sake of he and Garner’s three children.
Affleck reflected, “I’m doing my very, very best and I hope that that is – it has to be good enough,” he said. “I have to. I don’t really have a choice. I have to be the man I want to be at this point. I don’t have any more room for failure of that kind.”