Ben Affleck Opens Up About Divorce: My Drinking Drove Jennifer Garner Away

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Among today's Hollywood A-listers, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more compelling study in contrasts than Ben Affleck.

The 47-year-old has reached career heights that most actors and directors only dream of.


But fame has come at a steep price, and the Oscar winner's many falls from grace have been painstakingly documented by the tabloid media.

Affleck's divorce from Jennifer Garner made headlines in 2015 and 2016, as the couple's unsuccessful attempts to patch up their relationship gave way to their shared effort to reach an amicable co-parenting arrangement.

The years that followed saw some of Ben's greatest career successes offset by his most devastating personal failures.

Affleck's alcoholism was exacerbated by the stress of his separation, and media outlets delighted at accounts of the star slurring his words stumbling through parking lots.

These days, Affleck is promoting his new film, The Way Back, a drama about an alcoholic who finds redemption through coaching a high school basketball team.

As part of his press duties, Affleck has opened up like never before in a remarkably candid interview with The New York Times.

"I drank relatively normally for a long time. What happened was that I started drinking more and more when my marriage was falling apart," he told the newspaper.

"This was 2015, 2016. My drinking, of course, created more marital problems," Affleck added.

The Affleck

“The biggest regret of my life is this divorce. 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."

Ben said that while he's well aware of his shortcomings, it's crucial to his recovery that he not fixate on them.

“It’s not particularly healthy for me to obsess over the failures — the relapses — and beat myself upm" he continued.

"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.”

Ben Affleck for Justice League

From there, Affleck summarized the addiction mentality in a way that many who have struggled with substance abuse will likely find relatable:

“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.

"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," Affleck continued.

"Then the real pain starts. It becomes a vicious cycle you can’t break. That’s at least what happened to me…

Ben Affleck Winks

“It took me a long time to fundamentally, deeply, without a hint of doubt, admit to myself that I am an alcoholic. The next drink will not be different.”

The interview concluded on a more lighthearted note with Affleck admitting to the back tattoo he had previously tried to conceal from the public. 

“I resented that somebody got a picture of it by spying on me. It felt invasive," he told the Times by way of explanation.

"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.”

Here's hoping Ben's future mistakes look more like regrettable ink, and less like devastating relapses.

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Ben Affleck Biography

Ben Affleck and daughter, Violet
Ben Affleck is Jennifer Garner's husband. He's also an actor that may actually have a brighter future as a director. Either way, he's a... More »
Berkeley, California
Full Name
Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt