He has sought treatment for alcoholism on several occasions in the years since, getting professional help in 2008, 2017, and again in 2018 after his divorce from Jennifer Garner was finalized.
He briefly relapsed in 2019, but said he wouldn’t let it “derail” him, admitting: “It happens, it’s a slip.”
That same year, the actor acknowledged that “being an alcoholic” is something that he deals with on a daily basis, saying on the Todayshow: “It doesn’t have to subsume my whole identity and be everything, but it is something that you have to work at.”
And now, in a wide-ranging interview with the Hollywood Reporter published yesterday, Ben is reflecting on complications that come with navigating sobriety in the spotlight, admitting that he feels he’s become the face of alcoholism among celebrities.
“I became — out of no desire of my own — one of the poster boys for actor alcoholism and recovery and the whole thing,” he told the outlet, going on to admit that being so open about his struggles comes with ups and downs.
“The best part about that is that sometimes people call me up and they’re like, ‘Hey, can you help me out?’ And it makes me feel so good to do that,” he said, adding that “the big trick of 12-step is the reason they want you to help other people is because it actually helps you more.”
However, despite acknowledging the positives that come from his openness, Ben said the advice he often gives to his celebrity peers in similar situations is to “avoid” having their addictions made public.
“You don’t need to be anybody’s poster child,” he said. “You don’t need to fucking tell anybody. That’s why there’s two words on the front of the book. They’re just as important, both of them: Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s always anonymous.”
Since Ben’s addiction has played out so publicly, it’s become unfortunately common for fans to speculate about his health — particularly after he married Jennifer Lopez in July last year.
For example, a video clip of Jennifer and Ben having a seemingly tense conversation at the premiere for her movie, Shotgun Wedding, went viral in January after fans suspected the pair were arguing over Ben’s drinking.
In the candid clip — which has amassed more than 10.5 million views on TikTok — Ben can be seen shaking his head at Jen, who drinks from a wine glass in front of him. When she appears to disregard what he’s saying, he looks to say her name.
Fans began speculating that Jen was accusing Ben of drinking alcohol, with one lip-reader on TikTok claiming that Ben was saying: “I didn’t drink anything, OK?” while Jen tasted his drink to check.
More recently, Ben found himself at the center of attention after he was shown looking “bored” and “miserable” while he and Jen attended the Grammys last month.
The pair went viral once again after the cameras caught them having yet another tense-looking exchange.
In the clip, Ben can be seen leaning in to whisper in Jen’s ear, only for her to turn her head suddenly and sternly say something to him. She then puts her hand to her chest and looks to tell Ben to sit up as he immediately adjusts his posture.
Fans on Twitter had a field day hypothesizing about what the husband and wife duo could have possibly been “fighting” about, with people speculating that Ben’s unusual behavior on the night might have been because he was drinking.
Addressing the discourse with the Hollywood Reporter this week, Ben was quick to assure the world that he was, in fact, having a “good time.”
“My wife was going, and I thought, ‘Well, there’ll be good music. It might be fun,’” he said. “At movie award shows, it’s speeches and, like, sound-mixing webinars. But I thought this would be fun.”
He went on to reveal what was actually happening between him and Jen during that viral clip, admitting that it was all down to a little “husband-and-wife” teasing.
“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,” he recalled, adding that Jen replied: “‘You better fucking not leave.’”
But, as for the speculation that he’d been drinking, Ben was less lighthearted.
“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,” he said. “[But at the Grammys] they were like, ‘He’s drunk.’”
The Argo director went on to say that he found these accusations “interesting,” suggesting that it speaks to wider issues about navigating sobriety in the public eye.
“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,” he said, “which is often quite inhibiting.”
He added that the stigma “disincentivizes people from making their lives better.”