Ben Affleck Says Divorce From Jennifer Garner Is ‘The Biggest Regret Of My Life’

He gave a candid, deeply-personal interview to The New York Times this week.

Jennifer Garner Ben Affleck

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

Ben Affleck has opened up about his divorce from Jennifer Garner, saying it was ‘the biggest regret of my life’ in a new interview. The rare, candid conversation saw him discuss his family and struggles with alcoholism throughout his life.

‘I drank relatively normally for a long time,’ he told The New York Times. ‘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 biggest regret of my life is this divorce,’ he continued. ‘Shame is really toxic. There is no positive by-product of shame. It’s just stewing in a toxic, hideous feeling of low self-worth and self-loathing.’

Affleck and Garner began dating in 2004, were married on 2005 and had three children together before they announced their intention to divorce in 2015. However, they did not file legal documents for two years, with the divorce eventually finalised in October 2018.

Over the course of their marriage, Affleck went to rehab twice, having initially also sought treatment in 2001. His 2017 and 2018 stints were a huge talking point at the time as in August of 2018, Affleck appeared publicly drunk on the tabloid news website TMZ just months after publicly celebrating one year of continuous sobriety.

‘Relapse is embarrassing, obviously,’ he said of that incident. ‘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.’

Garner appeared to be one of his biggest support systems at the time – staging an intervention, according to People, and driving him to rehab in 2018. Reading the interview, you get a sense that Affleck is overwhelmingly sorry for what he put her through.

Talking about his new film, The Way Back, in which he plays an alcoholic who ruins his marriage and ends up in rehab, he says he found the role ‘therapeutic’. Notably, he broke down after filming one scene where he apologises to his ex-wife, played by Janina Gavankar, saying. ‘I failed you. I failed our marriage.’

It was really important that he take accountability for the pain that he and only he has caused.

‘It was really important, without being mawkish or false, that he make amends to her — that he take accountability for the pain that he and only he has caused,’ Affleck said. Director Gavin O’Connor spoke of Affleck’s pained reaction after shooting, adding, ‘It was like a floodgate opened up. It was startling and powerful. I think that was a very personal moment in the movie. I think that was him.’

Now, Affleck has found solace and help in his sober Hollywood friends, noting that Bradley Cooper and Robert Downey Jr have been ‘very supportive’ of his recovery. However, alcoholism and mental illness is something that he says is a ‘legacy’ in his family.

His father was an alcoholic, who Affleck saw drunk every day until he was 19 when he got sober. His brother Casey, 44, has also spoken about his alcohol abuse. According to the New York Times interview, one of their grandmothers took her life at 46, as did an uncle, and his aunt was a heroin addict.

‘The older I’ve gotten, the more I recognise that my dad did the best he could,’ Affleck said. ‘There’s a lot of alcoholism and mental illness in my family. The legacy of that is quite powerful and sometimes hard to shake… It took me a long time to fundamentally, deeply, without a hint of doubt, admit to myself that I am an alcoholic.'

However, having gone through Alcoholics Anonymous now three times, their core values seem to have resonated and he is choosing to move on.

‘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.’

Read More:

Why Brie Larson Refusing To Clap For Casey Affleck Matters

Why Do So Many Women End up Taking Care Of The Father Of Their Children, Even After They've Split Up?

Ben Affleck And Jennifer Garner Finally File For Divorce

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us