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Ben Affleck says his biggest regret in life is divorcing Jennifer Garner

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Hollywood headlines 03:38

In a candid interview with The New York Times, Ben Affleck opened up about alcoholism, relapsing, divorce, Harvey Weinstein and a new role that hits close to home. 

The 47-year-old actor said he still felt guilt for his divorce from Jennifer Garner, but had moved passed the shame. "The biggest regret of my life is this divorce," Affleck said. "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."

Affleck and Garner separated in 2015 and filed for divorce in 2017. 

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Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck arrive at the Oscars on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. The two separated in 2015 filed for divorce in 2017. Jason Merritt/Getty Images

In 2018, Garner sat down with CBS Sunday Morning and spoke about having her family's public life play out in magazines. "But to be honest, public scrutiny, everyone says, 'Oh, you've had to go through this in public.' The public isn't what's hard; what's hard is going through it," the actress told Conor Knighton.

That same year, despite being divorced, Affleck and Garner were back in the headlines together. Entertainment Tonight reported she drove him to rehab – again. 

Affleck has gone to rehab three times – in 2001, 2017 and 2018 – and he called relapsing "embarrassing," according to The Times. "I wish it didn't happen. I really wish it wasn't on the internet for my kids to see. Jen and I did our best to address it and be honest," the father of three said in the interview. 

The "Batman" actor will soon portray an alcoholic in "The Way Back," a sports drama directed by Gavin O'Connor, due out in March. In the film, Affleck plays a high school basketball coach who ruins his marriage and ends up in rehab.

Affleck spoke to The Timesabout growing up with an alcoholic father, who didn't become sober until Affleck was 19. 

"The older I've gotten, the more I recognize that my dad did the best he could," Affleck said. "There's a lot of alcoholism and mental illness in my family. The legacy of that is quite powerful and sometimes hard to shake." 

In an exclusive interview with ET in 2018, Affleck's younger brother, actor Casey, said they "come from a long line of alcoholics." Casey said his brother's wife and kids inspired him to get sober.

"Ben is an addict and an alcoholic. Most of my grandparents are alcoholics. My father is an alcoholic, as bad as you can be, and he's been sober for about 30 years. I've been sober for about six years," the younger Affleck said. "Ben is trying to put it together, and it can be a very hard thing to do. He has the kind of resources and time, luckily, to take the time and go to a good facility." 

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Affleck stars in "The Way Back," a film about former high school basketball star, who is struggling with alcoholism and returns to coach his old team.

In The Times interview, Affleck mentioned Bradley Cooper and Robert Downey Jr. as "guys who have been very supportive and to whom I feel a great sense of gratitude." Recently while accepting an award, Oscar winner Brad Pitt thanked Cooper for helping him get sober, too. 

His divorce and sobriety are not the only heavy topics Affleck addressed during his interview. He also spoke about disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, currently on trial for sexual assault.

"I don't know that I have anything to really add or say that hasn't been said already and better by people who have been personally victimized or who are survivors of what he did," Affleck, who has acted in many Weinstein films, said. As a reparation, Affleck decided three years ago he would donate residual payments from his Weinstein films to anti-sexual assault charities, according to Variety.

Affleck also has a slate of projects in the works. In addition to "The Way Back," he also just finished shooting "Deep Water," alongside Ana de Armas, and he stars in a new Netflix movie "The Last Thing He Wanted." Soon, he will start filming "The Last Duel," alongside friend and frequent collaborator Matt Damon, according to The Times.

When asked by The Times how he makes these film choices, Affleck said he's "never been very risk-averse – for better or worse, obviously."

"Regarding 'The Way Back,' the benefits, to me, far outweighed the risks. I found it very therapeutic," Affleck said referencing his portrayal of an alcoholic character.

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