When it comes to Ben Affleck, there's not much room for middle ground. He's reached major milestone highs, and his lows... well, they've been pretty low.
But the Hollywood veteran has never been one to let public opinion dictate his reputation, addressing head-on the peaks and pits of life as an internationally recognized A-lister. Affleck announced Tuesday that he recently sought professional treatment for alcohol addiction, the second time (at least publicly) the father of three has entered rehab.
Across his decades-spanning career, Affleck has weathered tabloid objectification, suffered personal strife and yet each time turned what many might consider a dead-end into new opportunity to pursue his passions.
After a slew of smaller roles, at only 25, Affleck and Matt Damon achieved a five-year plan to launch their then-fledgling careers into the limelight. Good Will Hunting opened in 1997 to critical acclaim, landing Ben and Matt the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Affleck made history as the youngest individual to win the coveted category, years later reflecting with E! News about its impact.
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"When we first wrote Good Will Hunting, I don't think I was on many people's lists, you know? In that regard it's changed my life," he admitted in March 2016.
From the late '90s and into the early 2000s, the Boston native pushed past one hit wonderdom to verifiable box office hitmaker, courtesy of parts in Armageddon, Forces of Nature, Shakespeare in Love and Bounce—both co-starring Ben's then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow—and perhaps most notably, 2001's Pearl Harbor. Though never far from magazine covers (Affleck was named People's Sexiest Man Alive in 2002), his highly-publicized romance with Jennifer Lopez left Ben and his image, to put it succinctly: overexposed.
Tabloids famously dubbed the all-star couple, who met in 2002 on the set of notoriously cringe-worthy film Gigli, "Bennifer," but after a whirlwind 18 months together, called off their nuptials a mere four days prior to their 2003 wedding date. Inherently headline-making antics, no doubt.
Personal life aside, Affleck had simultaneously hit an admittedly rough patch in his career. 2003's Daredevil was universally panned (followed by 2004's Jersey Girl and Surviving Christmas), and in a 2014 sit-down with Playboy, he called it "the only movie I actually regret" making.
No one knew Ben was at a crossroads more than Ben himself. He told Entertainment Weekly in 2010 of his decision to take a hiatus from being in front of the camera, "I was definitely frustrated and wanted to withdraw from a part of my life that I was starting to hate. I was caught in that intersection of celebrity and tabloid culture, and it was beginning to upstage the movies I was trying to do."
He summarized this five-year period, which included a 2001 stay in rehab for alcoholism, to The Guardian, "When you're a young man in your 20s, part of that is making mistakes and learning from them. I just made those in front of everybody, rather than privately."
Affleck tied the knot with Hollywood darling Jennifer Garner in 2005, welcomed daughter Violet Affleck that same year and set the stage for a career comeback with his directorial debut in 2007's Gone Baby Gone. A risk? Certainly, but that's exactly Affleck's mantra.
"It was the only option I felt I had to do good work, because the quality of scripts I was seeing was just getting worse and worse," he explained to EW. "I felt like I was either going to believe in myself and try directing, or just give in. And I decided, ‘I am going to walk the plank, and maybe there will be sharks and maybe there won't.'"
He credited Garner with giving him a "foundation" on which to reenter filmmaking, and in 2013 the Affleck-directed drama Argo won the Oscar for Best Picture. "[Garner] is leaps and bounds the most important person to me in that respect," he told Playboy that year. "Over the past 10 years she has allowed me to have a stable home life while accomplishing my professional goals."
In 2015, the lovebirds announced their separation, but continued to actively co-parent their children, Violet, Seraphina, 8, and Samuel, 5, living on the same Los Angeles compound. "We're good friends and we're doing our best and our kids are fabulous and we're working our best for them and that's...What are you gonna do?" he told Ellen DeGeneres nine months after going their separate ways.
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To much positive appraise, Affleck revived his superhero past as the ultimate caped crusader in last year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and over the summer, was on set in London filming Justice League. He most recently stepped down from directing the upcoming standalone Batman film, but at the time of his announcement, a source confirmed to E! News he would still star in it.
As for what led to Ben's latest rehab stint, a source shared with us exclusively, "He didn't want to cycle through anything he had dealt with in the past. He's moving in a healthy, balanced direction."
"He didn't want to hide," our insider explained. "He will continue to work on it. This was a step, but it's a progressive process. He's in a good place."
And after all, shouldn't we consider Affleck using his own continued struggle to promote healthy living an undeniable high?
As he so reminded E! News of his personal mission a few years back, "I think I'm at the point now where I just got older. I've got a little gray hair. You develop a perspective. I've been doing this a long time—I've been doing this since I was a kid."
He added, "I learned a lot of bad lessons and ran into a lot of bad ends, and finally I just got to a point in my life where I thought, 'I'm just going to do what I want to do and express myself as a director and an actor' and hope for the best, but not worry too much about what other people say."