Ben Affleck's alcoholic relapse almost lost him his role in the new film The Way Back. Then ex-wife Jennifer Garner stepped in.
In October, the actor fell off the wagon. Footage of him looking intoxicated outside a Halloween party went viral. Affleck, who almost undergone three rehab stints over the past 17 years, again sought treatment. He has spoken about his recovery in press interviews for The Way Back, in which he plays a former basketball star and former alcoholic who hopes for a comeback with his new job as a basketball coach.
"Just as we started prepping the movie, Ben fell off the wagon," director Gavin O'Connor told 34th Street magazine in a recent interview. "So he ended up going to rehab, and I didn't know if the movie was over. The studio certainly thought the movie was over. His ex–wife Jennifer Garner called me up, and told me that when he went to rehab, he took a basketball with him. She said, 'Gavin, he's asking you, please don't pull the plug on the movie, he really wants to do this.'"
"So, he had about a week of detoxing, because he really went off the deep end, and after a week, I was able to go see him," O'Connor said. "We spent half a day together and figured out a way to do this that will work for him, because most importantly he needed to recover and needed to get his sobriety on track. That overtook everything. And then he got out the day before we started shooting. So we had a very raw, vulnerable guy showing up for our first day of shooting.
The Way Back is set for release on Friday, March 6, and has received mostly positive reviews from critics.
Garner and Affleck, who share three children, announced their separation in 2015 and finalized a divorce in 2018, a few months after she staged an intervention that led to his previous rehab stint.
"I drank relatively normally for a long time. What happened was that I started drinking more and more when my marriage was falling apart," Affleck told the New York Times in an interview published last month. "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 byproduct of shame. It's just stewing in a toxic, hideous feeling of low self-worth and self-loathing. It's not particularly healthy for me to obsess over the failures— the relapses—and beat myself up. 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."