Tragic Details About Ben Affleck

The following article contains references to addiction, suicide, and mental health issues.

Ever since his Oscar win with BFF Matt Damon in 1998, Ben Affleck has been a mainstay of our screens — both the cinematic and smartphone variety. Granted, his prevalence in the media hasn't always been due to his success as an actor (or lack thereof — "Gigli," anyone?). Two incarnations of Bennifers — thanks to Mmes. Lopez and Garner — left Affleck fighting off the paps and having to defend himself amid relentless media scrutiny. But if Ben Affleck is anything, he's a Hollywood success story. Despite appearing in a number of flops, such as his stint as the Caped Crusader in the ill-fated "Justice League," he has cultivated a serious career as both an actor and, indeed, a director thanks to Oscar-winner "Argo."

And though Affleck appeared to be, by his own admission, a "cavalier, insincere, callow frat guy" on the outside, this was anything but the case; the A-lister was secretly grappling with some major personal demons. As he told The Wall Street Journal, "I am very lucky in my life in that I have benefited from second chances, and I am aware that other people don't even get first chances. I've had second chances in my career. I've had second chances as a human being."

Thanks to Bennifer 2.0, Affleck has hopefully found some happiness and respite from his myriad tragedies, socking it to the critics of both his career and love life. How do you like them apples! Get the Kleenex ready as we unveil the tragic details about Ben Affleck.

Ben Affleck's dad struggled with alcoholism

Ben Affleck was born to intellectual parents and grew up in a rough working-class area of Boston, per the Daily Mail. His mom, Chris Boldt, is a Harvard-educated teacher, while his father, Timothy Affleck, holds communist beliefs and taught him about the importance of altruism, per The Wall Street Journal. Despite Timothy's strong sense of justice and egalitarianism, he had his demons.

Speaking with People in 2000, Ben described his dad as having "a severe, chronic problem with alcoholism." Indeed, he told Barbara Walters that his father spent all day drinking, which caused immense strife for the youngster. However, in time he was able to reflect on the turmoil that led to Timothy's addictions. "The older I've gotten, the more I recognize that my dad did the best he could," Ben told The New York Times.

As the actor explained to The Wall Street Journal, his dad had potential, but lost it all to drinking excessively. Accordingly, Timothy hated the rich due to his own unfulfilled aspirations and instilled this animosity into his son (Ben admitted that he himself felt this same resentment when he was younger). Eventually, his dad was able to get sober and became an addiction counselor, as the actor told the Daily Mail. Nevertheless, being raised in a discordant household had serious ramifications for the younger Affleck. "Having such serious addiction issues has a major impact — it colors who you are and becomes part of you," he conceded.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

His parents divorced when he was just 12

As a young boy, Ben Affleck witnessed his parents' toxic relationship, which culminated in their divorce when he was just 12. When his parents called it quits, Affleck admitted to feeling glad at first. "To be honest with you, the marriage was so bad that I remember feeling relief," he told Barbara Walters. The family struggled financially in the aftermath — Affleck's mom, a teacher, earned $28,000 annually, as the actor revealed to Entertainment Weekly

Thereafter, he had to navigate life without his dad in his life. What pained Affleck the most as a child of divorced parents, as he revealed to Howard Stern (via TheThings), was grappling with the notion that his dad may have hated him. "It's very difficult to understand, as a child, you are kind of programmed to [believe] your parents are right," he reflected. With the absence of a father figure to guide him from adolescence to adulthood, Affleck felt helpless, having to "trial-and-error [his] way towards manhood," per The Wall Street Journal. Speaking with Mosaic, he said that while he conceded that the divorce was the right decision, he nonetheless felt immense pain in the aftermath.

Soon, the problems Affleck experienced at home began to manifest at school; he stopped taking schoolwork seriously and his grades suffered, per The Hollywood Reporter. "I was a bit of a f*** up. ... I was having issues around my dad and my mom, and things just weren't that stable," he admitted, adding, "I just lost focus and stopped caring."

Many of his friends and family members met tragic fates

Ben Affleck's tragic family history sadly goes beyond his father. As he told The New York Times, "There's a lot of alcoholism and mental illness in my family. The legacy of that is quite powerful and sometimes hard to shake." When he was a boy, his grandmother died by suicide, as did his uncle. As Diane Sawyer noted, his grandmother had been struggling with an addiction to alcohol and barbiturates, precipitating her decision to end her life. Meanwhile, his aunt was addicted to heroin and most of his grandparents struggled with alcoholism, per ET. "I always said that'll never be me," Affleck poignantly told Sawyer. His brother, fellow actor Casey Affleck, had also recovered from excessive alcohol use, as he revealed on "WTF with Marc Maron."

During an appearance on Howard Stern's SiriusXM show (via TheThings), Ben explained that knowing about his father's traumatic past has helped him understand why he behaved the way he did. "Two years before he got married, his mother killed herself. Then the next year, his brother killed himself," he said. "His father beat him up his whole life. He had an incredibly traumatic life. How he even recovered from that to the degree he has is really remarkable."

This tragedy extended to Ben's circle of friends. As he recounted to the Daily Mail, his childhood friend was fatally stabbed over his jacket, while many of his schoolmates, some of whom died young, came from abusive homes or had parents who struggled with addiction.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Ben Affleck also struggled with addiction

As Ben Affleck revealed to Diane Sawyer, he struggled with addiction for decades. After first getting sober in 2001, he began drinking casually again in 2003 before suffering a relapse eight years later, drinking every day until he would pass out. But the movie star admitted that he was in denial and couldn't accept that he had developed an alcohol addiction. His father, Timothy Affleck, told Grazia that he blamed the entertainment industry for his son's addiction. "Hollywood is a disgusting place," he said. "I think that's been a major factor in Ben's drinking."

In 2019, TMZ published footage of Ben stumbling while supposedly inebriated. He told The New York Times that it was a humiliating experience, lamenting that his kids saw the clip. It also contributed to one of his greatest miseries: the specter of shame, an emotion that was at the center of much of his personal strife. "It's a really toxic, awful way to feel," the actor-director told The Wall Street Journal in 2021. "There's no effect of shame except to be corrosive and to continue in a death spiral that is the hardest to pull out of."

On numerous occasions, he believed that his alcoholism had ruined his life and the lives of those around him, only recovering when he reached self-actualization. As Ben Affleck put it, he had met his pain threshold and couldn't take anymore suffering. He told The New York Times that he was able to seek help and work toward his sobriety thanks in part to the support of pals Bradley Cooper and Robert Downey Jr.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The actor faced hate from the public

As Ben Affleck once told Matt Damon, "I can sell magazines but I can't sell films," per ABC News. In the 2000s, the once sought-after star found himself in a career slump, gaining notoriety for his personal life as opposed to his acting work. These struggles had a profound effect on Affleck, whose self-esteem was diminished by being the target of a barrage of hate.

Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, he admitted to being hurt by the animosity he faced from both the public and the media, seeking therapy as a result. "I was really struggling," he said. "People were just writing vicious, awful, hateful stuff about me all the time and it really started to affect me." The star conceded in an interview with Playboy that he simply became an easy target, someone "people could kick around." Chatting to Jimmy Kimmel for Men's Journal, Affleck admitted that paparazzi intrusion spurred self-loathing, particularly when he would see unflattering snaps published without his consent. "You can't help but be critical of yourself. ... They try to pick the one where you look the most bloated and grotesque," he said.

What upset Affleck in particular, however, was the scrutiny foisted upon his children. As he explained to Howard Stern, his kids were constantly targeted by the paps, which filled him with guilt, since he and his ex-wife, Jennifer Garner, had chosen an A-list lifestyle, whereas their kids didn't. "I've already inflicted that on them," Affleck confessed, adding, "That's a cross to bear."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Ben Affleck was targeted by a stalker

In the late 2000s, Ben Affleck and his family were targeted by a stalker. For years, Steven Burky had reportedly been following Affleck and then-wife Jennifer Garner, as well as harassing their young children, per NBC Washington. In 2008, Garner obtained a restraining order against Burky and he was later arrested, per the Mirror.

According to court documents obtained by the Boston Herald, Burky allegedly threatened Garner that "God had sent him a vision of her being persecuted in a manner that may result in her death." The ordeal was traumatic for Affleck, who revealed that he felt propelled to purchase a number of guns in spite of his liberal political leanings. "The stalker had been to our house many times and ultimately came to my children's school and was arrested," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "It gave me a stronger sense of feeling protective about my family. ... It's an ugly world."

Affleck told Playboy that Burky had allegedly threatened to murder his family, having discovered where his kids go to school by studying paparazzi snaps. As Affleck divulged, the stalked eventually turned up at the preschool. In 2010, a judge found that Burky was not guilty by reason of insanity, and he was remanded in a psychiatric hospital, per NBC Washington. He was also barred from interacting with the Affleck family for 10 years, should he ever be released.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

He lost a dear friend

Ben Affleck struck up a friendship with Joe Kindregan after meeting him on the set of "Forces of Nature" in 1998, per People. Kindregan was just 10 when he befriended Affleck, but the relationship had a long-lasting effect on him. The youngster lived with a neurological disease called ataxia telangiectasia, which is a degenerative condition with no cure, causing susceptibility to cancer and other illnesses, according to a 2016 study.

The actor and his then-wife, Jennifer Garner, campaigned and fundraised on Kindregan's behalf, having raised $350,000 for the A-T Children's Project in 2007. That year, Affleck paid tribute to Kindregan when giving a graduation speech at his pal's high school, per Today. "I'm here because what I learned about the distance between how you see someone and who they are, I didn't learn in Hollywood, I learned from a classmate of yours, my friend, Joe Kindregan," Affleck told the high school audience, as People reported. Meanwhile, Kindregan called the "Daredevil" star "the best friend you could ever have."

In 2013, Affleck celebrated Kindregan's 25th birthday and donated $25,000 to A-T Children's Project. Sadly, he died two years later, aged just 27. "Joe Kindregan was a living example bringing to light the truth that the journey is the reward! It is not length of life, but depth of life, that truly matters," his memorial page stated. The obituary noted that Kindregan was able to bring his illness to greater awareness via the famous pals he made.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner had a discordant relationship

Ben Affleck married Jennifer Garner in 2005, per Entertainment Weekly. Although they seemed like the perfect Hollywood super couple, their marriage was tumultuous. After 10 years together, Affleck and Garner called it quits, divorcing two years later in 2017, per TMZ. For his part, Affleck has discussed the breakup with immense candor. "The biggest regret of my life is this divorce," he told The New York Times

During an appearance on Howard Stern's radio show (via CNN) in 2013, he claimed that the couple's struggles exacerbated his excessive drinking and propelled him toward a relapse. "I was trapped," he said, before admitting that he would still be drinking if he and Garner had remained married. However, Affleck clarified his comments on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" claiming that his words were taken out of context in the condensed interview. Repeating the patterns of divorce prevalent in his own family was incredibly difficult for Affleck. "It upset me because it meant I wasn't who I thought I was," he told Diane Sawyer. "And that was so painful and so disappointing."

There were also rumors of cheating, with the couple hit by "nannygate" when Affleck began dating his children's nanny, Christine Ouzounian. One month after splitting from Garner, Us Weekly reported that Affleck and Ouzounian were getting loved up, though he denied any infidelity. Still, Garner told Vanity Fair that she was hurt by the relationship. "Bad judgment? Yes," she said. "It's not great for your kids for [a nanny] to disappear from their lives."

The director apologized for sexual misconduct

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, multiple powerful men in Hollywood were accused of sexual impropriety. When Ben Affleck spoke out about Harvey Weinstein in 2017, a Twitter user reminded fans that the actor apparently once groped Hilarie Burton's breast on-air when she was hosting "Total Request Live," per The Wrap. Regarding the incident, a clip of which began circulating online, Burton herself tweeted, "I had to laugh back then so I wouldn't cry." 

Affleck seemingly admitted to the indiscretion and tweeted a succinct apology. However, during an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," he claimed that he couldn't remember what happened and suggested he was just giving Burton a hug as opposed to grabbing her breast. Nevertheless, he said that he was certain Burton wasn't lying. In 2020, Burton elaborated on the incident in her memoir "The Rural Diaries" (via Metro), in which she revealed that MTV producers were training her "to be a good girl and a good sport, someone who would put up with much worse behavior."

Shortly after Burton's claims in 2017, Annamarie Tendler, who was then married to "Saturday Night Live" alum John Mulaney, alleged that Affleck groped her at a Golden Globes party in 2014, per E!. "Like most women in these situations I didn't say anything but I have thought a lot about what I'd say if I ever saw him again," she wrote in since-deleted tweets. Then, "Broad City" writer Jen Statsky claimed that Affleck had groped multiple women at the same party. As of this writing, Affleck has not publicly commented on these allegations.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Ben Affleck's struggles with depression and anxiety

Given his discordant childhood and subsequent career difficulties, Ben Affleck began struggling with his mental health. From a young age, the actor has suffered from depression and anxiety, per ABC News. "I get depressed," he told ABC's Diane Sawyer. "I take antidepressants. They're very helpful for me, I've taken them from 26 years old, various different kinds." He lamented that some of the medications he'd been prescribed in the past led to side effects that caused further discomfort, such as weight gain.

Speaking with People in 2020, he argued that mental illness is still stigmatized and poorly understood, in contrast to addictions. "I've experienced depression and anxiety," Affleck said. "The psychological issues are not as well understood as addiction is now. ... Mental health is more confusing and more elusive." The star added that it's easier for many people to understand the concept of addiction resulting from trauma as opposed to mental illness as a result of a chemical imbalance (it should be noted, however, that the notion of depression being caused by a chemical imbalance remains divisive among mental health professionals).

On reflection, Affleck has begun to understand what led to his inner turmoil. As such, he told The Wall Street Journal that he regrets not having treated his younger self with kindness and understanding. "I wish I had understood better the nature of what was difficult about life for me," the actor-director reflected. "I wish I did not have to learn some lessons the hard way."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.