Ben Affleck called his divorce from Jennifer Garner his ‘biggest regret’ in a candid new interview which explored his struggle with alcoholism, and the devastating impact his addiction had on his marriage and career.
The actor, 47, speaking with the New York Times Tuesday, opened up about the pain he felt amid the end of his marriage to Garner, 47, with their June 2015 separation.
‘The biggest regret of my life is this divorce,’ he said while plugging his new film The Way Back, in which he plays Jack Cunningham, a high school basketball coach fighting alcoholism. ‘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.’
The latest: Ben Affleck, 47, speaking with the New York Times Tuesday, opened up about the pain he felt amid the end of his marriage to Jennifer Garner, 47, with their June 2015 separation
The father-of-three – to daughters Violet, 14, and Seraphina, 11, and son Samuel, seven, with the Alias actress, said he ‘drank relatively normally for a long time’ in the wake of their split.
‘What happened was that I started drinking more and more when my marriage was falling apart,’ he told the paper. ‘This was 2015, 2016. My drinking, of course, created more marital problems.’
The Argo star would go on to enter a rehabilitation facility for alcohol addiction in August of 2018, saying, ‘I am fighting for myself and my family,’ in a social media post two months later about his efforts to remain sober.
He suffered a slip this past fall when he was snapped outside of Unicef’s Masquerade ball at the La Peer Hotel in West Hollywood, California appearing inebriated, using nearby vehicles to stay upright in a clip posted on TMZ.
Poignant: In his new film The Way Back, Affleck plays Jack Cunningham, a high school basketball coach fighting alcoholism
In visiting Garner’s home the following day last October, Affleck told the outlet he’d do his best to move forward from the mistake: ‘It happens, you slip, and I’m not gonna let it derail me.’
The Argo director and star has been persistent in his efforts to battle alcohol over the years with multiple stints in rehab over the past 20 years. He spent 30 days in rehab at Promises in Malibu in July of 2001, with Charlie Sheen personally taking him there, People reported.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in 2012 about the stint, he said, ‘I went to rehab for being 29 and partying too much and not having a lot of boundaries and to clear my head and try to get some idea of who I wanted to be … it was more a “let me get myself straight,” before it became a rite of passage.’
Following his 2004 wedding to Garner, there were no reported stints of rehab for Affleck until March of 2017, when he said that he underwent 40 days in rehab in an effort to be ‘the best father’ he can be.
Cordial: Affleck and Jennifer Garner were seen with their kids in LA in December. The pair have remained on good terms since their breakup in 2015
Family outing: Ben held hands with Samuel and walked with his mother in the December outing
‘I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step,’ he said in a Facebook post about it at the time. ‘I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.’
He would re-enter rehab the following year, in August of 2018, with Garner taking him there personally.
Garner, in speaking about their parting to Vanity Fair in 2016, said of her union to Affleck: ‘It was a real marriage. It wasn’t for the cameras. And it was a huge priority for me to stay in it. And that did not work.’
Speaking to CBS in 2018, she said that the hardest part of the breakup wasn’t the attention it received.
‘Everybody says, “Oh, you’ve had to go through this in public” – the public isn’t what’s hard,’ she said. ‘What’s hard is going through it.’
Devoted mom: Jen was seen with daughters Violet, 14, and Seraphina, 11, on the December outing
Elsewhere in the chat, Affleck said that the drinking issues played a part in his announcement he would stop playing Batman early last year.
Affleck said he he ‘showed somebody The Batman script’ and was told in response, ‘I think the script is good. I also think you’ll drink yourself to death if you go through what you just went through again.’
He told the paper that he keeps a positive mindset in moving forward amid life’s ups and downs.
‘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.’
Moving forward: Ben said that he decided to bow out of The Batman after a friend advised he would drink himself to death if things got complicated with the film
In recent years, the star of films such as Argo, Justice League and Armageddon has been in romances with Lindsay Shookus, a 39-year-old producer for Saturday Night Live; and Shauna Sexton, a 24-year-old model who’s been seen in Playboy.
Affleck also opened up to the paper about why he lied to Extra’s Mario Lopez in 2016 about getting a large tattoo on his back of a Phoenix, claiming it was ‘fake for a movie.’
He added to Lopez: ‘I actually do have a number of tattoos… but I try to have them in places where you don’t have to do a lot of cover up.’
A look back: Ben Affleck chat last year with Ellen about his back tattoo. He said he lied to Extra about it in 2016 because he got ‘a kick out of messing with Extra’
Speaking with the paper about the fib Tuesday, Affleck said, ‘I guess I got a kick out of messing with Extra.’
He said, ‘I resented that somebody got a picture of it by spying on me. It felt invasive. But you’re right. I could have said, “That’s none of your business.” 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.’
The Way Back arrives in theaters March 6.