Ben Affleck gave one of his most in-depth interviews of 2023 to The Hollywood Reporter, talking candidly about his misconstrued Howard Stern interview (where some outlets ran with the false story he blamed his ex-wife Jennifer Garner for his abusing alcohol), new wife Jennifer Lopez’s advice to him, and how he really feels about being the internet’s favorite meme of misery from the 2023 Grammys.
Of the Garner story, Affleck said, “The idea that I was blaming my wife for my drinking. To be clear, my behavior is my responsibility entirely. The point that I was trying to make was a sad one. Anyone who’s been through divorce makes that calculus of, How much do we try? We loved each other. We care about each other. We have respect for each other. I was trying to say, ‘Hey, look, I was drinking too much, and the less happy you become, whether it’s your job, your marriage, it’s just that as your life becomes more difficult, if you’re doing things to fill a hole that aren’t healthy, you’re going to start doing more of those things.’ I think I was pretty articulate about that. It was the New York Post who deliberately mischaracterized it in order to make it clickbait, and everyone else then picked it up, and it didn’t matter how many times I said, ‘I do not feel this way. I’m telling you, I don’t blame my ex-wife for my alcoholism.’”
“So, yeah. It’s hard,” he said, zooming out more broadly to giving interviews. “But anyway, so [Jennifer Lopez] tells me today [on advice for this interview], ‘Relax, be yourself. Have fun. You’re actually a fun guy who is real and genuine and you just seem so serious.’ Do I seem serious? But as in many things, she’s really right. And she loves me. She’s looking out for me. She’s trying to help me. So it’s like, maybe I ought to fucking listen to her.”
He touched on the Grammys meme honestly, saying he actually wasn’t miserable at the awards show, but he was at his wife’s work event. He didn’t mind the meme, he said, and went on to tell the story of his night there: “I had a good time at the Grammys. My wife was going, and I thought, ‘Well, there’ll be good music. It might be fun.’ At movie award shows, it’s speeches and, like, sound-mixing webinars. But I thought this would be fun. I saw [Grammy host Trevor Noah approach] and I was like, ‘Oh, God.’ They were framing us in this shot, but I didn’t know they were rolling. I leaned into her and I was like, “As soon they start rolling, I’m going to slide away from you and leave you sitting next to Trevor.” She goes, ‘You better fucking not leave.’ That’s a husband-and-wife thing. I mean, some of it is, I’m like, ‘All right, who is this act?’ Like, I don’t keep up. My wife does, obviously. And yeah, it is your wife’s work event. And I’ve gone to events and been pissed off. I’ve gone and been bored. I’ve gone to award shows and been drunk, a bunch. Nobody ever once said I’m drunk. [But at the Grammys] they were like, ‘He’s drunk.’ And I thought, that’s interesting. That raises a whole other thing about whether or not it’s wise to acknowledge addiction because there’s a lot of compassion, but there is still a tremendous stigma, which is often quite inhibiting. I do think it disincentivizes people from making their lives better.”
You can read his full interview here.
Senior News and Strategy Editor
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.