Ben Affleck reflects on ‘painful’ claims he blamed his drinking on marriage to Jennifer Garner
Ben Affleck has candidly reflected on the backlash he faced after he appeared to partially blame his struggles with alcoholism on his marriage to Jennifer Garner, with the actor clarifying that his “behaviour is [his] responsibility entirely”.
The Air star, 50, sparked criticism in December 2021 when he told Howard Stern that he’d felt “trapped” during his marriage to Garner, and that it was “part of why” he’d started drinking alcohol.
“We had a marriage that didn’t work,” Affleck told Stern. “This happens. It was somebody I love and respect but to whom I shouldn’t be married any longer ... what I did was [I] drank a bottle of scotch and fell asleep on the couch, which turned out not to be the solution.”
At the time, the actor, who was married to Garner from 2005 to 2018, then noted that they’d made the right decision ending their marriage, as they’d “probably be at each other’s throats” and he’d “probably still be drinking”.
“Part of why I started drinking alcohol was because I felt trapped,” he told Stern.
Affleck reflected on the backlash he faced over the comments, which he described as a “really painful experience,” in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, where he suggested that the revelations were taken out of context, and were “actually the opposite of what [he] meant”.
The actor opened up about the experience after he was asked why he is not on social media, with Affleck explaining that he’s become “very guarded” and now views the platforms and interviews as “land mines, where if you say one wrong thing, your career might be over”.
After the interviewer questioned whether Affleck was referring to the interview with Stern, the Deep Water star confirmed he was addressing the “idea that I was blaming my [ex] wife for my drinking”.
“To be clear, my behaviour is my responsibility entirely. The point that I was trying to make was a sad one,” Affleck explained. “Anyone who’s been through divorce makes that calculus of, How much do we try? We loved each other. We care about each other. We have respect for each other.
“I was trying to say: ‘Hey, look, I was drinking too much, and the less happy you become, whether it’s your job, your marriage, it’s just that as your life becomes more difficult, if you’re doing things to fill a hole that aren’t healthy, you’re going to start doing more of those things.’”
According to Affleck, he thought he was “pretty articulate” about his meaning during his interview with Stern. However, he claimed that his comments were then “deliberately mischaracterised in order to make it clickbait”.
“And everyone else then picked it up, and it didn’t matter how many times I said: ‘I do not feel this way. I’m telling you, I don’t blame my ex-wife for my alcoholism,’” the actor continued. “So, yeah. It’s hard.”
Although Affleck said he is still wary of interviews, he said that his wife Jennifer Lopez’s support and encouragement has been helpful.
According to the actor, ahead of his interview with the outlet, Lopez told him to “relax,” “be himself,” and “have fun,” and reminded him that he is a “fun guy who is real and genuine,” even if he often comes across as “serious”.
While reflecting on his wife’s advice, Affleck jokingly asked: “Do I seem serious?” before noting that Lopez is “really right” and that he would be wise to listen to her.
“But as in many things, she’s really right. And she loves me. She’s looking out for me. She’s trying to help me. So it’s like, maybe I ought to f**king listen to her,” he said.
This is not the first time that Affleck has hit back at the claims that he blamed his marriage to Garner for his drinking, as the actor revealed during an interview with Jimmy Kimmel in December 2021 that he believes his words were twisted, and that it “hurt [his] feelings”.
“We talked a lot about my family, you know, alcoholism, struggling with real things, how you have to be accountable and loving, how I work with my ex-wife, how I’m so proud of the way we work together for our kids, the best that we can for them,” he said on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
“I was thrilled,” he said of the interview with Stern. “I thought: ‘Wow, I should do more honest, exploratory, self-evaluating things.’ Then I start seeing all this stuff come up on Twitter. And I was like: ‘What is this?’”
At the time, Affleck claimed that the way his comments were interpreted by one website made him out to be “the worst, most insensitive, stupid, awful guy,” despite the fact that he’d told Stern how much he and Garner “respected each other, cared about each other, cared about our kids, put them first”.
Affleck and Garner, who share children Violet, 17, Seraphina, 13, and Samuel, 10, separated in 2015 after 10 years of marriage. The celebrity couple officially divorced in 2018, the same year Affleck went to rehab for alcoholism.
The Gone Girl star later rekindled his romance with Lopez, who he was engaged to in the early 2000s, with the couple tying the knot in July 2022.