The 47-year-old actor and filmmaker opened up about his battle with alcohol addiction, the divorce and his career in a candid interview with The New York Times published Tuesday.
Affleck, an Oscar-winning screenwriter and director of Oscars Best Picture winner “Argo,” explained that his alcoholism and his crumbling marriage fuelled one another in a vicious cycle in 2015 and 2016. He and Garner announced they were separating in 2015 and divorced in 2018.
The pair had first started dating in 2004 and married the following year. They share three children: Violet, 14; Seraphina, 11; and Samuel, 7.
Affleck told the Times that he was still struggling with guilt about the split, but had worked past the feelings of shame.
“The biggest regret of my life is this divorce,” he said. “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.”
Moving forward, Affleck said, is about picking himself up and learning from his mistakes. He spent a third stint in rehab around the time of the divorce and after the 40-day stay at a treatment facility, shared a statement on Instagram about his “lifelong and difficult struggle” with addiction, thanking his family, colleagues and fans for their support.
He suffered another relapse in October last year but said at the time he would not let the slip “derail” him.
“Relapse is embarrassing, obviously,” he told the Times of the incident when he was filmed drunk at a party by TMZ. “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.”
In his upcoming sports drama “The Way Back,” set for release next month, Affleck takes on a role with poignant parallels to his own experience. His character, a former basketball star, tries to make his comeback as a high school coach after his battle with alcoholism cost him his marriage.
According to the Times (spoiler warning), in a moving scene toward the end of the film, Affleck apologizes to his ex-wife (played by Janina Gavankar) while in rehab. Director Gavin O’Connor said Affleck had a “total breakdown” on set after completing the scene.
“It was like a floodgate opened up,” O’Connor told the Times. “It was startling and powerful. I think that was a very personal moment in the movie. I think that was him.”