“The biggest regret of my life is this divorce,” the 47-year-old actor, writer and director says of his 2015 separation and eventual divorce from Garner, which was finalized in October 2018. The Pearl Harbor and Daredevil co-stars were married in 2005 and have three children.
Affleck tells the paper that his drinking contributed to the split, which in turn led to more alcohol abuse in what he describes as a “vicious cycle.”
“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 tells the paper. “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 continues. “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.”
The Oscar winner sought treatment for alcoholism in 2017 and again in 2018 after a widely publicized relapse, in which Garner herself was photographed driving him to a treatment facility. Last fall, he admitted to another “slip,” but vowed to not let it “derail” his commitment to sobriety.
“It’s not particularly healthy for me to obsess over the failures — the relapses — and beat myself up,” he says. “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.”
Those regrets include falling off the wagon.
“Relapse is embarrassing, obviously,” he admits. “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.”
The interview also sees the Argo star addressing his father’s own history with alcoholism, as well as his “gratitude” to “very supportive” peers like Bradley Cooper and Robert Downey Jr., who have also gone sober.
“One of the things about recovery that I think people sometimes overlook is the fact that it inculcates certain values,” he muses. “Be honest. Be accountable. Help other people. Apologize when you’re wrong.
“It took me a long time to fundamentally, deeply, without a hint of doubt, admit to myself that I am an alcoholic,” he also says in the piece. “The next drink will not be different.”
Affleck’s drinking has influenced his career, including passing on The Batman and paving the way for Robert Pattinson to take over as the Caped Crusader.
“I showed somebody The Batman script,” Affleck says. “They said, ‘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 was instead drawn to his latest film, The Way Back, in which he plays a basketball coach battling addiction and a ruined marriage — a strikingly relatable role he found “very therapeutic.” Director Gavin O’Connor tells the Times that the film includes a powerful moment in which Affleck’s character apologizes to his ex-wife (played by Janina Gavankar) for letting their marriage down, a scene that reportedly prompted the actor to have a “total breakdown” afterward.
Elsewhere in the interview, Affleck is asked about the trial of former Miramax collaborator Harvey Weinstein trial — “I don’t know that I have anything to really add or say that hasn’t been said already and better by people who have been personally victimized or who are survivors of what he did,” he responds — and addresses his past claim that his large, colorful, very real phoenix tattoo on his back was just for a film role.
“I resented that somebody got a picture of it by spying on me,” he says of pretending the tattoo was fake. “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.”
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