Ben Affleck, who has spoken candidly in recent weeks about his struggles with drinking, said that he “really could connect” to his recovering alcoholic character in the new film The Way Back.
“You got to try to bring some personal experience [to a character] for me,” he told Us Weekly and other reporters at the sports movie’s Los Angeles premiere on Sunday, March 1. “I mean, if you’re Daniel Day-Lewis, maybe you can just be a genius and imagine it all and it’s, like, incredible. For me, it takes an emotional connection to the character and what they’ve been through. That doesn’t mean you have to know every detail of the experience, every detail of the character’s life. You’re gonna have to use your imagination at some point.”
He continued: “There are things about this character I really could connect to: being a recovering alcoholic, going through family strife, a divorce. But also, there were things that I had to really use my imagination for that I couldn’t imagine. And one of those things was being good at basketball, which I’m not particularly. So you know, you try to bring your own life experience to the parts that you can, use your imagination on the other parts.”
In The Way Back, Affleck portrays a former high school basketball star who returns to his alma mater to coach the team, all the while confronting his alcoholism.
“One of the beautiful things about a movie that allows for expression of genuine feeling, real people conquering real problems that at end of the day feel like a rich fullness, I guess in kind of a cathartic sense,” Affleck, 47, added. “And you hope that you’ve done your best, but you know that the potential for a movie like this is to really inspire somebody, to move somebody. Not everybody is going to come in and think it’s great. I’m sure some critics will like it and some won’t. But for those who do, and for those who may be moved by this, the idea that you can face hard things and get better, I’m really proud of that.”
The actor — who shares daughters Violet, 14, and Seraphina, 11, and son Samuel, 8, with ex-wife Jennifer Garner — has sought treatment twice in the last three years and suffered a public “slip” in his sobriety journey in October 2019.
“I have to be the man I wanna be at this point,” he said in a Good Morning America interview earlier this month. “I don’t have any more room for failure of that kind.”
The Way Back hits theaters on Friday, March 6.
With reporting by Kayley Stumpe
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