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Ben Affleck opened up about how his children inspire him to stay sober while speaking with Diane Sawyer in an interview that aired, in two parts, on Thursday and Friday’s Good Morning America.
In the Thursday segment, the actor revealed that alcoholism runs in his family. “For me, seeing my dad, he drank every day and that was just life,” said Affleck. “As that got worse, that was really, really painful and I always said, ‘That will never be me. I’m never gonna do that.'”
While he said that he wished his father had been sober during his formative childhood years, Affleck said that he learned “how important it is for me to be sober now during these formative years for my kids.”
When asked what the hardest thing to be honest with himself about was, Affleck admitted that he had a hard time accepting that he would get a divorce from Jennifer Garner. The couple, who share three children, divorced in 2018.
“I never thought I was gonna get divorced. I didn’t want to get divorced. I didn’t want to be a divorced person,” he said. “I really didn’t want to be a split family with my children.”
“It upset me because it meant I wasn’t who I thought I was,” he continued. “And that was so painful and so disappointing.”
Affleck credited his children for his decision to go to rehab two times over the past three years. “I really don’t want my children to pay for my sins,” he said. “Or to be afraid for me, which is one of the hard parts of being the child of an alcoholic. You think, ‘What if my dad gets drunk? What if he does something stupid? What if he ends up on TMZ?'”
Following a relapse that was broadcast on TMZ, Affleck said he is determined to be the best father he can be and is dedicated to being part of his kids’ daily lives.
“Divorce is very painful and alcoholism is very painful,” he said. “There’s something that when your child is suffering, that’s a level of pain that is just not easily gotten past. Not easily forgiven, not easily forgotten and it’s hard. You’re not gonna avoid causing your kids pain — all pain. Pain is part of life. I take some comfort in that. I’m doing my very, very best.” He added, “I have to be the man I want to be at this point. I don’t have any more room for failure of that kind.”
The Thursday segment concluded with Sawyer, back in the GMA studio, sharing a comment that Affleck made about Garner, while acknowledging that the actor wanted to keep details of their marriage private. “What I want to say publicly and privately is thank you. Thank you for being thoughtful, considerate, responsible and a great mom and person,” she said.
Earlier, during his sit-down with Sawyer, the actor also reflected on his first attempt to get sober in 2001. “Which I now look at as sort of a JV version of what really the problem is,” he admitted. “I was sober for a couple of years and then I thought, ‘You know, I want to just drink like a normal person and I want to have wine at dinner.'”
Affleck explained that he was able to casually drink for eight years, though the success of his career made it difficult for him to find a balance. “I start to drink more and more and more and it was really hard for me to accept that that meant I was an alcoholic,” he said. “I started drinking every day. I’d come home from work and I’d drink and I’d just drink until I passed out on the couch.”
During the second part of Affleck’s interview Friday, the actor credited some famous friends for helping him stay sober.
He shared that Bradley Cooper and Robert Downey Jr. “have been really helpful to me and really supportive.” Affleck continued, “They’re wonderful men.”
Affleck also said that he is on antidepressants. “I get depressed. I take antidepressants. They’re very helpful for me,” he said. “I’ve take them since I was 26 years old. Various different kinds. I’ve switched and tried this and tried that. Sometimes they won’t tell you about some awful side effect, then you’ll come back and say, ‘Why am I 60 pounds heavier?'”
The actor was also asked if there is anything from his past that he wished he could change. “There are things that I would love to go back and change. I had regrets,” he admitted. “I’ve made plenty of mistakes. Some big, some small. I wish I could go back in time and change all kinds of things, but I can’t.”
The interview concluded with Affleck revealing what he hopes people will say about him in five years. “Five years from now, Ben Affleck is sober and happy and sees his kids three-and-a-half days a week and has made three or four movies that are interesting to him,” he said. “Directed two that he’s hopefully proud of and is in a healthy, stable, loving, committed relationship.”
Feb. 21, 8:17 a.m.: This story has been updated with the second part of Affleck’s interview, which aired Friday.
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