The actor is as human as the rest of us and he too has his regrets. His biggest one is letting go of the woman who stood by him.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on February 8, 2021. It has since been updated.
Gone Girl star Ben Affleck and 13 Going on 30 actress Jennifer Garner had one of the most publicized weddings in Hollywood. They looked to be a truly loving couple with their three kids and who would be one of the lucky few to have their marriage last. However, after 10 years together, they shocked fans when they announced their separation and subsequent divorce.
According to US Weekly, "After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce. We go forward with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting our children whose privacy we ask to be respected during this difficult time,” the couple said in a joint statement at the time. "This will be our only comment on this private, family matter. Thank you for understanding."
But as much as they decided to split amicably, the Good Will Hunting star revealed that splitting from Garner was his "biggest regret." While promoting his movie, The Way Back, in which he plays a high school basketball coach struggling to keep his life together while battling alcohol addiction and coping with a failed marriage, he revealed just how similar it is to his own experience.
Speaking to The New York Times, he admitted, “The biggest regret of my life is this [his and Garner's] divorce. 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.” And this stemmed from one of the reasons for their split — his alcohol addiction. It slowly created a rift between the two.
“I drank relatively normally for a long time,” he told the outlet. “What happened was that I started drinking more and more when my marriage was falling apart. This was 2015, 2016. My drinking, of course, created more marital problems.” Deciding to separate first before divorcing, the mother-of-three still wanted to support her husband through his problems and put up a united front for the sake of their kids. When he was in rehab, she stuck by him because for her, their love was real and that "it wasn’t for the cameras," according to Vanity Fair.
In 2018, a source told US Weekly, "Jen wanted to give Ben the time and opportunity to work on his health and sobriety … she isn’t in a rush. Jen just isn’t willing to settle the custody issues until she’s 100 percent certain that he’s clean. She’ll wait for him to prove he is taking it very seriously." And he was grateful that she was there for him. "He is very appreciative of Jen being so supportive and giving him a chance to get better," another insider revealed to US Weekly. "She has always been there for him and continues to be."
Long after their divorce though, Affleck felt shame for what he had done. However, he knew that wallowing in shame wasn't good for him. “It’s not particularly healthy for me to obsess over the failures — the relapses — and beat myself up,” he told the Times. “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.”
He has since moved on and reunited with Jennifer Lopez. The pair got married on August 20, 2022.