How Ben Affleck’s Performance In The Way Back Was Influenced By His Divorce And Struggles With Alcoholism

Ben Affleck in The Way Back

Before The Way Back was released, Ben Affleck had spent the past decade producing, writing, directing and acting in his projects. Upon its release, the two-time Oscar winner received acclaim for his role as recovering alcoholic Jack Cunningham. The character seemed to be informed by the actor’s personal life. In fact, Affleck recently spoke about how his divorce and battle with alcoholism influenced his performance in the film.

Ben Affleck took part in The Hollywood Reporter’s Actors Roundtable along with other awards season contenders Sacha Baron Cohen, Delroy Lindo, Gary Oldman, John David Washington and Steven Yeun. The actors did the virtual roundtable to speaking on tackling vulnerable male characters. During the roundtable, Affleck was asked about his performance in The Way Back. The actor and director spoke on how his past struggles allowed him to tap into his character:

But for me, the movie was much more about the fact that — whether it's having lived enough years, having seen enough ups and downs, having had children and divorce — I'm at a point now in my life where I have sufficient life experience to bring to a role to make it really interesting for me. I'm not good enough to just invent it from whole cloth, you know? I didn't have to do research for the alcoholism aspect of the movie — that was covered. It was the Daniel Day-Lewis approach to that!

After breaking down what informed his role, Ben Affleck was asked to do another person’s projects after acting and directing in his projects in the past decade. He spoke on the ease of slipping back into just being an actor:

It's an easy adjustment for me to act in something that resonates with me, like this movie. Although some things were hard about it, it was also kind of cathartic and reminded me why I love and started acting in the first place. Even with things that were emotional or upsetting in some way, I was thrilled and exhilarated at the end of the day.

Given the mixed bag of success, Ben Affleck was able to channel all those struggles in his latest role was revealing. By his words, his experiences helped to humble the actor, allowing him to tap into the character uniquely compared to past roles. While his struggles informed his performance, the same struggles made him a media target in recent years.

Ben Affleck’s life has been public fodder in both the good and tough times. The actor spoke on relapsing during the filming of Justice League. He and his ex Ana De Armas recently went through a very public break-up. But on the other side, he will appear in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, reportedly teaming up with fellow Oscar winner George Clooney for the film Tender Bar and directing Disney's Keeper of the Lost Cities adaptation. The celebrated director also gave his take on the ongoing theater versus streaming debate.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).