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Ben Affleck addresses ‘mischaracterized’ comments about his marriage to Jennifer Garner

In 2021, the “Gone Girl” star was criticized on social media for his remarks about his alcohol usage during his first marriage.
/ Source: TODAY

Ben Affleck is clarifying his 2021 comments about his alcohol usage during his marriage to ex-wife Jennifer Garner. 

The “Gone Girl” star spoke about drinking while feeling “trapped” during his first marriage when he appeared on Howard Stern’s talk show 15 months ago. 

In an interview published by The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, March 16, Affleck recalled the backlash he received after “The Howard Stern Show” sit-down to explain why he has “become very guarded” and does not use Instagram. 

“I view these things as land mines, where if you say one wrong thing, your career might be over,” he said, referring to the social media platform. 

He shared, “I had a really painful experience where I did an interview where I was really vulnerable, and the entire pickup was something that was not only not right, it was actually the opposite of what I meant.”

After THR confirmed Affleck was referencing his interview with Stern, the 50-year-old actor added, “The idea that I was blaming my wife for my drinking. To be clear, my behavior is my responsibility entirely. The point that I was trying to make was a sad one.”

Affleck noted that anyone who has considered divorcing their partner asks themselves, “How much do we try?”

When he spoke to Stern in 2021, the “Good Will Hunting” star said at one point, “I’d probably still be drinking. It’s part of why I started drinking … because I was trapped.” 

Later, he explained to Stern, “I was like, ‘I can’t leave because of my kids, but I’m not happy, what do I do?’ What I did was drink a bottle of scotch and fall asleep on the couch, which turned out not to be the solution.”

Garner, 50, and Affleck were married from 2005 to 2018 and share three children together. In his cover story with THR, Affleck praised the “Alias” actor and said they still care about each other. 

“We have respect for each other,” Affleck told the publication. “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.’”

He described his message as “articulate” and called out some outlets that he considered responsible for feeding the social media criticism at the time. 

Affleck said his words were “deliberately mischaracterized” and turned into “clickbait.” 

“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,’” he continued. Affleck had previously addressed the reaction to his remarks on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” a day after the Stern interview was released.

He credits his wife, Jennifer Lopez, 53, for helping him relax and understand he's "real and genuine" but seems "so serious."

The newlywed gushed about Lopez and said, “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---ing listen to her.” 

During his talk with THR, Affleck also opened up about how publicly revealing his experience with alcoholism has affected him. 

“I became — out of no desire of my own — one of the poster boys for actor alcoholism and recovery and the whole thing,” the filmmaker said.

Although he enjoys helping others who are also battling the disease, he said it is not necessary to announce an addiction. 

“You don’t need to be anybody’s poster child. You don’t need to f—ing tell anybody,” he advised. 

Affleck added, “That’s why there’s two words on the front of the book. They’re just as important, both of them: Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s always anonymous.”