Ben Affleck takes cue from Brad Pitt, gets candid about his drinking in New York Times interview

Ben Affleck is getting tons of attention for telling the New
York Times that divorcing Jennifer Garner is “the biggest regret
of my life.”

Ben
Affleck and Jennifer Garner attend the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
in 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Pascal Le
Segretain/Getty Images) 

But the actor’s
new interview
with America’s “newspaper of record” is
notable in a couple other ways. First, it shows that Affleck has
absorbed Brad Pitt’s lesson in how a once beloved male star can
rehabilitate his damaged reputation and launch a career comeback
after being blamed for breaking up his family in a messy,
high-profile divorce.

The strategy is for the male star to give a couple key
interviews, especially
to the New York Times
. In these chats, the actor opens up about
his struggles with alcohol or other substances, admits his
arrogance, toxic masculinity or other faults, and comes across as
genuinely humble and earnest about doing better. This strategy
helped Pitt overcome his PR battle against estranged wife Angelina
Jolie, win back the respect of fans and of Hollywood and earn his
long-sought Academy Award.

As the New York Times said, Affleck, 47, is “working like a
madman to get his career back on track.” The former “Batman”
star has four movies coming out this year, including “The Way
Back,” a sports drama in which he plays a basketball coach in the
grips of alcoholism.

But Affleck’s comeback faces some additional obstacles,
especially with female fans, the Times added. He’s the “guy who
broke (Jennifer) Garner’s heart.” Affleck shares three children
with Garner. He also was implicated in a #MeToo-era transgression:
an accusation surfaced of him groping a talk-show host in his
younger days. In the Times interview, Affleck admitted he acted
inappropriately and said, “I sincerely apologize.”

But in terms of sincerity, Affleck, like Pitt, may come across
as most relatable when he is talking to the Times reporter about
his problems with alcohol and his struggles to get sober.

Brad
Pitt accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a
supporting role for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” at the
Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los
Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) 

Incidentally, both Affleck and Pitt also say they owe their
sobriety to the same A-lister: Bradley Cooper. On the awards
circuit for “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” Pitt
credited Cooper
with helping him to get sober, while Affleck
mentioned to the Times that Cooper, along with Robert Downey Jr.,
has “been very supportive.”

It’s likely that Affleck’s descriptions of why he became
dependent on alcohol and the risk of relapse should resonate with a
lot of less famous people who have been in similar situations.

For example, Affleck explained how a “basic discomfort” in
life has always driven him to compulsive behavior and to
self-medicate with drinking. It is well known in addiction
treatment circles that people who suffer from undiagnosed
depression or anxiety commonly reach for alcohol or drugs to calm
their nerves or relieve them of emotional pain.

Affleck described it this way: “People with compulsive
behavior, and I am one, have this kind of basic discomfort all the
time that they’re trying to make go away.”

“You’re trying to make yourself feel better with eating or
drinking or sex or gambling or shopping or whatever,” Affleck
continued. “But that ends up making your life worse. Then you do
more of it to make that discomfort go away. Then the real pain
starts. It becomes a vicious cycle you can’t break. That’s at
least what happened to me.”

Affleck actually said he drank normally “for a long time”
but that he began to drink “more and more” as his marriage
began to fall apart. The increased drinking, in turn, created more
problems in his marriage and brought shame and a “hideous feeling
of low self-worth and self-loathing,” Affleck said.

As for relapse, Affleck said it also brings more shame and
disappointment. Affleck first went to rehab in 2001 and 2017, then
publicly fell off the wagon in August 2018, when Garner was
photographed by the tabloids driving him to a treatment facility in
Malibu.

After Affleck went public this past fall with news that he had
enjoyed a year of continuous sobriety, he publicly relapsed again.
TMZ published photographs of him, appearing to be
falling-down-drunk
while leaving a Hollywood Halloween party
and then turning up at a casino to play some cards. The next day,
Affleck told TMZ, “It happens. It was a slip. But I’m not going
to let it derail me.”

It is also well-known in addiction treatment circles that
relapse is very common. In fact, a self-described therapist, who
works as a substance abuse counselor, wrote in the comments section
of Affleck’s Times interview: “On average, substances abusers
relapse nine times, yes, nine times is the average, before they get
sober.”

Affleck told the New York Times, “Relapse is embarrassing,
obviously. 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.”

Time will tell whether Affleck’s New York Times interview will
help him get his career back on track, as it did with Pitt.

When Pitt talked to the Times in September, he revealed how he
“spent a year and a half”
in Alcoholic Anonymous
, where he was part of an all-male
recovery group that helped him learn to better process his feelings
and be more authentic with himself and others.

Hundreds of people shared their mostly positive reactions to
Pitt’s interview on the Times site. In one popular comment, a
reader praised him for opening up about his struggles and said he
came across as “a really good guy.”

“Kudos to him for getting sober and for taking the time to dig
deep into himself and figure things out,” the reader wrote.
“It’s not easy for anyone and certainly not a thing most
hollywood zillionaires think too much about.”

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Affleck’s interview also won him praise, though it was more
guarded, with one person saying, “I cannot ignore the
destruction and pain he left in his wake and the woman who had to
clean up after him every step of the way.”

But another reader said she appreciated his description of the
“basic discomfort” that led to his drinking. The reader said
her ex-husband also had “that discomfort that never went
away.” She wrote, “I respect Affleck taking accountability,
which my now-ex never did.”

Another reader wrote, “It takes courage for people to really
look at themselves with honesty and critical introspection, even
that much more so with the world watching. I applaud Ben Affleck
for his candor and his ongoing efforts to become the person he
wants to be. The past can’t be undone, but the future is still
his.”

Source: FS – All – Entertainment – News 2
Ben Affleck takes cue from Brad Pitt, gets candid about his drinking in New York Times interview