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The Tragic Reason Ben Affleck Dropped Out Of The Batman

It's never easy for an actor to step down from a project, but for Ben Affleck, a prominent factor that played into his decision to drop out of The Batman was a life-or-death matter.

Once upon a time, Affleck — who portrayed Bruce Wayne in 2016's poorly received Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and 2017's equally disappointing Justice League – was slated to write, direct, produce, and star in The Batman. A feature film centered around the DC hero that was once said to address the death of Batman's sidekick RobinThe Batman and Affleck drifted apart over the years. Plenty of back-and-forth, contradictory comments from both Affleck and his actor-director brother Casey, and a steady dwindling of his responsibilities on the project later, and Affleck had officially dropped out of The Batman altogether. The project then went to writer-director Matt Reeves, who tapped indie film stalwart (and former teen heartthrob) Robert Pattinson to become the newest Batman

Now, we finally know the biggest reason why Affleck parted ways with The Batman.

Others worried Ben Affleck would drink himself "to death" — and Affleck apparently agreed

In an interview with The New York Times published in February 2020, Affleck revealed a harrowing concern people around him had while he was still attached to The Batman. Affleck had already been to hell and back during the troubled production and disappointing release of Justice League, and that reportedly "sapped his interest" in continuing to play the caped crusader. (He also told Jimmy Kimmel in February 2019 that he "just couldn't come up with a version" of a Batman tale that he enjoyed — "I couldn't crack it" — so he knew it was "time to let someone take a shot at it.") 

Knowing that Affleck was somewhat disconnected from the character and already down on his luck in the superhero movie realm, someone in Affleck's life told him they were worried he wouldn't make it out of production on The Batman alive. As Affleck detailed to The New York Times, "I showed somebody The Batman script. They said, 'I think the script is good. I also think you'll drink yourself to death if you go through what you just went through again.'"

Elsewhere in the conversation, Affleck explained the "vicious cycle" of discomfort and alcohol abuse that has had a grip on his life for quite some time.

"People with compulsive behavior, and I am one, have this kind of basic discomfort all the time that they're trying to make go away. You're trying to make yourself feel better with eating or drinking or sex or gambling or shopping or whatever. But that ends up making your life worse," he said. "Then you do more of it to make that discomfort go away. Then the real pain starts. It becomes a vicious cycle you can't break. That's at least what happened to me." 

Affleck also revealed that he began "drinking more and more" around 2015 and 2016, when his marriage to Jennifer Garner "was falling apart."

Ben Affleck's struggles with alcohol

Affleck's troubles with alcohol are, sadly, extensive and well-documented. His father was an addict, and Affleck attended Al-Anon Family Groups meetings when he was growing up to cope with and understand how addiction was impacting his family. Though he experienced his own struggles with alcohol abuse as a teenager, Affleck eventually got sober in his 20s. He explained in a 1998 interview with USA Weekend, "I started regretting some things I did when I was drunk [...] I have almost no inhibitions, so it's dangerous for me."

Over the years, Affleck continued to struggle with addiction. 2001 saw him enter an alcohol rehabilitation center, a move that his spokesman at the time described as the result of a "self-aware and smart man" deciding that "a fuller life awaits him without alcohol." (In a 2003 interview with Vanity Fair, Affleck described his 2001 rehab stay as a "pre-emptive strike," given his family's history of addiction.) More recently, in 2017, Affleck revealed in a Facebook post that he had "completed treatment for alcohol addiction," something he said he had "dealt with in the past and will continue to confront." 

A little over a year later, it was reported in August 2018 that Affleck checked into a live-in rehabilitation facility as part of a reported intervention staged by his ex-wife Garner, with whom he shares three children. (He noted in his interview with The New York Times that his divorce from Garner "is the biggest regret of [his] life.") Affleck successfully maintained his sobriety for over a year, before he was seen intoxicated at the UNICEF Masquerade Ball on October 26, 2019. A source close to Affleck told PEOPLE in the aftermath, "Ben is very honest that he isn't perfect. He didn't try to make any excuses [...] He wants to be sober. Staying sober is constant work for Ben."

We wish Affleck the best as he continues to work to maintain his sobriety.

The Batman is slated for release on June 25, 2021.