Ben Affleck Has Opened Up About His Health Troubles And Praised His Ex-Wife Jennifer Garner

Marriage separations aren’t always acrimonious. In fact, some celebrity couples can emerge from difficult divorces on friendly terms – even though they may be under the microscope of media scrutiny. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, for example, survived a widely publicized breakup seemingly relatively unscathed. And when Affleck opened up about his health struggles, he appeared to show nothing but love for his ex-wife.

Naturally, Affleck is a household name to millions. But contrary to popular belief, the world-famous actor isn’t a native Bostonian. Instead, he was born on August 15, 1972, in Berkeley, which lies northeast of San Francisco. Then, when he was aged three, his family relocated to Falmouth, Massachusetts – although they later put down roots in Cambridge, just outside Boston.

Affleck’s younger brother, Casey, who is now also a well-known actor, subsequently arrived in 1975. And the boys were raised by their mom, Chris, and dad, Tim, with Chris working as an elementary school teacher after graduating from Harvard. Yet while that may seem like a nice life to some, the Afflecks certainly weren’t immune to everyday worries.

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Affleck’s dad found himself having to scratch out a living fixing cars and tending bars, for instance, along with work as an electrician, a carpenter, a bookie and even a Harvard janitor to support his aspirations of becoming a playwright. Some years before Affleck arrived, however, he had been employed at a renowned Boston theater company as an actor and stage manager.

In particular, Tim was associated with the Theater Company of Boston – an institution co-founded by theatrical director David Wheeler. The establishment had even played a part in the careers of such legendary actors as Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Naturally, though, Tim’s life didn’t reach such heady heights. In fact, his son remembers a very different man.

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By his own admission, Tim had a “severe, chronic problem with alcoholism.” And his eldest son would later remember his drinking as going on “all day… every day”; Affleck and his brother even went to Al-Anon groups to help their father. In the end, then, when Affleck was 12, his family fell apart.

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There was little improvement in Affleck’s father’s drinking, you see, and ultimately his parents divorced. He and his brother then lived with their mom, while Tim’s alcohol abuse subsequently led to him spending two years sleeping rough. It was only when Affleck was 16 that he would see his dad sober and eventually in work counseling addicts in Indio, California.

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Affleck’s own path already seemed set, however – perhaps in part because of his father’s earlier career. He would often watch theater performances with his mother and brother, while the boys were urged to in turn create their own home productions. And thanks, too, to family friends – including David Wheeler, who was also his sometime acting teacher – Affleck was spurred on to pursue a life on screen.

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Like many young actors, Affleck’s career began in commercials and small films. And when his first professional job came at age seven, his mom saved his earnings in a fund for college – hoping all the while that he may go on to pursue a more conventional and secure career. In high school, though, Affleck grew close to Matt Damon.

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Affleck was eight and Damon was ten when they first met; it would be during the pair’s high-school years, however, that they joined forces to make it to auditions in New York. Yet while Affleck was a bright kid, his attention wandered during schooling, and his attendance duly suffered. Aged 18, he chose, then, to relocate to LA.

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And while Affleck continued his education for 18 months with a stint at LA’s Occidental College, he certainly didn’t neglect his passion for film; during that time, he directed a number of student movies. The budding actor also went on to score several bit parts, including an uncredited role in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. In 1993, though, heads finally started to turn.

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That year, Affleck appeared in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused – a coming-of-age escapade set in 1976. Affleck – along with Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich and Jason London – was among a group of teenagers celebrating their last day of school. And while the flick didn’t exactly set the box office alight, it is now widely considered to be a cult classic.

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Yet Affleck feared becoming typecast after taking on the roles that followed. In 1995, you see, he appeared again as a student in Glory Daze, while Kevin Smith’s slacker comedy Mallrats saw him portray a young thug. Smith came to the rescue, however, after casting the Boston-raised actor in his romantic comedy Chasing Amy.

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Affleck subsequently earned praise from several critics for his part in Chasing Amy, and his talent outshone the lack of diversity in his roles. Then, after the fledgling actor’s old friend Damon moved in with him in LA, both would ultimately emerge as rising stars. In their spare time, they developed a script that Damon had started at Harvard.

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And, of course, the movie on which Affleck and Damon worked together was Good Will Hunting. This was written by the pair in stints of improvisation and was influenced by their lives back in Cambridge. Happily, too, the screenplay caught the attention of top industry figures before filming had even started; the duo also convinced big studio Miramax to fund the project.

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Affleck and Damon then returned to Boston 12 months before shooting on Good Will Hunting began. Gus Van Sant directed the movie, and it starred the two upcoming actors alongside Robin Williams and Minnie Driver. And fortunately for the pair who had penned the script, the film – about a gifted but troubled youth finding his way in life – was both critically acclaimed and a box-office hit.

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It’s no exaggeration to say, either, that Good Will Hunting performed incredibly well for Affleck and Damon. In fact, the long-time friends even won both an Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Original Screenplay for their work on the drama. And to this day, Affleck – who at 25 was two years younger than his buddy – remains the youngest individual ever to snare a screenwriting Oscar.

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Good Will Hunting’s success naturally raised Affleck’s acting profile, too, and headline roles in blockbuster Armageddon and rom-com Shakespeare in Love followed in 1998. Meanwhile, as the Bostonian’s Hollywood stock rose, so did media interest in his personal life – not least because Affleck chose to date some equally high-profile women.

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When Affleck first met Gwyneth Paltrow at a dinner in October 1997, for instance, they started an on-off relationship – one that took them through the making of Shakespeare in Love and ultimately lasted for three years. Nor was that Affleck’s last headline-making romance.

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In 2002, you see, Affleck became involved with his Gigli co-star Jennifer Lopez. The pair dated for several months, in fact, before becoming engaged in November of that year. And in the process, the couple acquired a media-earned new nickname: “Bennifer.”

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Yet just four days before Affleck and Lopez were due to wed on September 14, 2003, the ceremony was postponed owing to “excessive media attention.” The two then separated in January 2004, with Affleck in particular apparently wary of the scrutiny that their relationship had been under. If any “Bennifer” merch had existed, however, fans did well to keep it.

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After all, when Affleck began dating actress Jennifer Garner later in 2004, the new couple quickly earned the nickname “Bennifer 2.” However, whereas some sequels can seem like pointless money grabs, this one had a feeling of timelessness.

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The two had first become friends on the set of 2001’s Pearl Harbor, in which Affleck was the lead. The pair were reunited and their friendship grew, however, when they co-starred in the superhero movie Daredevil in 2003; Garner’s TV work had set her up for the role.

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In fact, Garner had built her reputation as a actress largely through television. In 1998, for instance, she was cast in a small role in Felicity – a college drama co-created by J.J. Abrams. And despite Garner only appearing in two episodes of the show, the experience nevertheless made a big impact on the actress’ life. On set, you see, she was introduced to Scott Foley, who would go on to become her first husband.

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Yes, Garner and Foley married in a low-key ceremony in October 2000, although their union only ultimately lasted just shy of two and a half years. And as it happens, another relationship that Garner had formed while working on Felicity proved to be almost as pivotal; in short, the star seemingly formed a bond with filmmaker Abrams.

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Through that connection, moreover, Abrams got to see a side to Garner that seemingly defied her wholesome public image. The star, he later revealed, was more sassy and headstrong than had been reflected in any of her previous roles, and he wanted the more concealed parts of Garner’s personality to shine through on screen.

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To this end, then, Abrams created Alias – a TV action drama in which the main protagonist, Sydney Bristow, leads a secret life as a spy with multiple identities. The role seemingly paved the way for Garner to take on more action-led parts, too – not least in Daredevil.

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Affleck and Garner’s relationship continued apace, too, with the pair marrying on June 29, 2005 after a year of dating. The ceremony itself was low key with only two guests: actor Victor Garber, who conducted proceedings, and his now-husband Rainer Andreesen. And the wedding took place away from the prying eyes of the media on the Turks and Caicos Islands, which are situated northeast of Cuba.

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Then Affleck and Garner grew their clan by three, with daughters Violet arriving in December 2005 and Seraphina in January 2009; son Samuel was born in February 2012. It was for other reasons, however, that their marriage would grow crowded. You see, for years Affleck had been battling personal demons.

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Specifically, Affleck – like his father before him – has issues with drinking. The actor had struggled with alcohol addiction for a substantial period, in fact, leading him to enter rehab on more than one occasion. And Affleck’s substance abuse may have even been a factor in the 2015 breakdown of his marriage to Garner – or so it has been speculated.

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Yet even after the split, Garner spoke warmly of her ex-husband to Glamour magazine. She said in a 2016 interview, “You can’t have three babies and so much of what we had. [Affleck is] the love of my life. He’s the most brilliant person in any room, the most charismatic [and] the most generous. He’s just a complicated guy.”

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It’s clear, then, that Garner still held affection for her estranged spouse. And the pair remained close, too, in order to help raise their kids. However, when Garner saw a photo of her former husband apparently taking delivery of alcohol in August 2018, she knew that something was wrong. And she realized in turn that she needed to step in.

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Principally, it’s thought that Affleck had been struggling after the break-up of a relationship with Saturday Night Live producer Lindsay Shookus, after which he had allegedly increasingly turned to alcohol. Garner had apparently noticed the change in Affleck, too, and so had reportedly grown concerned for his welfare.

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It’s said, then, that Garner felt obliged to lend a hand to her former spouse before things got out of control. And to that end – and with the help of security and a professional from a rehabilitation clinic – she apparently confronted Affleck at his home. The actor seemingly didn’t resist the attempted intervention, either.

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In fact, Affleck went on to spend the next 40 days in rehab. And despite his usually private nature, his battle against alcoholism is a subject about which he’s been unusually open. In October 2018, for example, he posted a message on Instagram that read, “Battling any addiction is a lifelong and difficult struggle. Because of that, one is never really in or out of treatment.”

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In March 2019 Affleck opened up to Today host Hoda Kotb about his struggles, too. There, the star admitted, “Being an alcoholic is part of my life; it’s something I deal with.” He then spoke candidly about why he’s attempting to confront his issues with substance abuse.

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“[Addiction] doesn’t have to subsume my whole identity and be everything, but it is something you have to work at,” Affleck went on. “I feel like I had a problem; I really wanted to address it and I take some pride in that. It’s about yourself, your life [and] your family.” And the actor had warm words for one person in particular.

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When Kotb asked Affleck if he still loved Garner, you see, he said, “Of course. She’s wonderful. Somebody’s the mother of your kids – they’re going to be the most important, central person in your life.” For the most part, though, Affleck wants to be around for his three kids.

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“I hope I’m a pretty good dad,” Affleck confessed to Kotb. “I certainly try very hard. I’m lucky they’ve got a great mom, and she helps out a great deal with making sure that we co-parent in as good a way as possible.” The actor also acknowledged that a father’s role in his children’s lives is just as vital as a mom’s.

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And while Affleck and Garner may no longer be together, their kids will always keep them intertwined. Plus, it appears that Affleck is determined to be an active father even after the divorce. He told Kotb, “[Being a parent is the] central preoccupation in my life. It’s what makes me happy. The rest of the stuff kind of follows.”

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