Ben Affleck sat down for a no-holds barred interview with People, in which he opens up about his battle with alcohol and his enduring love and respect for his ex-wife Jennifer Garner.
In his new film The Way Back, Affleck plays a former basketball star who struggled with alcoholism. The comparisons to his own life are obvious, but not easy, he told People.
The 47-year-old said: “Frankly, I would have preferred to deal with that part of my life privately but that’s not the way my life is.”
Affleck said his struggle stemmed in part from family issues: “For me, it was a two pronged thing. I have a genetic component. Two of my grandparents were alcoholics. So it seemed like statistically the dice were kind of loaded.” (His father Timothy struggled with alcohol and so did his brother Casey Affleck, both of whom are now sober.)
Then when he split from Garner, with whom he shares three children, Violet, 14, Seraphina, 11, and Sam, 8, things spiraled.
He said: “When my life got stressful, which principally had to do with the disappointment and the pain that the divorce caused my children, that affected me profoundly. I didn’t want to see them hurt. I found myself drinking more and more at night at home by myself. It was something I was doing to avoid dealing with painful feelings. My parents got divorced when I was young. I know how painful that is.”
Affleck also said he drank to medicate himself: “I’ve experienced depression and anxiety. The psychological issues are not as well understood as addiction is now. Addiction has become more destigmatized, where mental health is more confusing and more elusive. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate ‘Something bad happened to me, so I feel bad’ versus ‘I’m feeling bad because something is not working right chemically in my brain.'”
He also opened up about how much he still cares for Garner, who he was married to for 10 years.
Affleck said: “When you have children with somebody you’re connected to them forever. And I’m very lucky she is the mother of my children.”
He continued: “I’m very grateful and respectful of her. Our marriage didn’t work, and that’s difficult. Both of us really believe that it’s important for kids to see their parents respect one another and get along, whether they’re together or not.”
The Way Back opens March 6.