Ben Affleck‘s new film, The Way Back, seemingly has a lot of parallels with his own story. In fact, the parallels were so striking that, during the filming of one scene in particular, the actor reportedly broke down on set. Gavin O’Connor, who directed the film, told the Associated Press that Affleck broke down during a scene in which his character tries to reconcile with his wife.
“It was probably the second take, Ben just had a breakdown. I’m getting chills thinking about it. It was like the dam broke and everything came out. I just remember the crew, everyone was frozen, watching him bear his soul. It was obviously real. A lot of things that he probably had to say in his own life, or maybe he had said, I don’t know,” O’Connor said.
The director had previously worked with Affleck on The Accountant. In this film, the Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice actor played a former high school basketball player struggling with alcoholism who decides to start coaching.
O’Connor said he kept the scene in the final cut, but left some of the more sensitive parts out because they would be too raw for the audience.
In promoting the film, Affleck has been reflective on his own struggles with alcohol, and the failure of his marriage to Jennifer Garner. In an interview with The New York Times, the actor said that his divorce from Garner was the “biggest regret” of his life. Affleck knew that the similarities between his real life and his character would cut deep when he signed on to the project.
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It has been a real pleasure to work alongside Gavin O’Connor again. He’s the type of director who pays attention to every detail and nuance of the performance. @TheWayBack is a truly meaningful story for me and it was an honor to bring it to life with Gavin. #TheWayBack #TheAccountant
In the interview, Affleck said that he’d done the “research” on his character, in that he’d lived a similar life to the person he was portraying. He also said that the film’s story of redemption resonated with him because it helped to remind him that people can get better.
As he filmed the movie, Affleck also said that he found playing someone who had similar struggles to him therapeutic. He said it helped him to purge his own feelings, even as parts of it were painful to make. The actor said that, while he’s slipped, he’s spent most of the past three years sober, in part because he reached a point where he couldn’t handle his own suffering anymore. Affleck said he was overcome by humility, and the realization that he was not stronger than his addiction. It was at that point that he decided to seek help.