Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
If Ben Affleck wanted to forget that he knew Jennifer Lopez, we wouldn't exactly blame him. His engagement to the superstar singer-actress, and the resulting "Bennifer" phenomenon, wreaked havoc on both his career and personal life. Yet surprisingly, eight years after calling off their wedding, Affleck and Lopez (pictured in 2003) remain friends.
"We don't have the kind of relationship where she relies on me for advice," he tells the Hollywood Reporter in a new profile. "But we do have the kind of relationship where there'll be an e-mail saying, 'Oh, your movie looks great.'"
"I remember when she got American Idol," Affleck continues. "I said: 'This was really smart. Good luck.' I touch base. I respect her. I like her. She's put up with some stuff that was unfair in her life, and I'm really pleased to see her successful."
In recent years, the actor has reinvented himself as a director with films such as The Town, Gone Baby Gone and his latest, Argo. But in 2004, at the peak of Bennifer mania, he was certain that his Hollywood career was over. His longtime best friend Matt Damon remembers it well.
"To watch the entire world have the totally wrong idea about somebody you care about and admire was painful, just as his friend," Damon tells the Hollywood Reporter. "I can't imagine what it felt like to him. I remember Ben calling and saying: 'I can sell magazines and not movies. I'm in the worst possible place I can be.'"
Following the collapse of his relationship and a string of box office disasters such as Daredevil and Gigli, Affleck decided to start from scratch. He reveals that he checked himself into rehab at 29 "to clear my head and try to get some idea of who I wanted to be." Then he made a list of future goals for himself.
"I said: 'Here are the things I'd like to do: I want to direct movies, and I want to be in a movie that I'm enormously proud of. I want to have kids,'" he recalls. "I set out goals. It was a bold thing because when one is accustomed to falling short, as I had been, one becomes fearful of making predictions. But I did."
Thankfully, someone soon came into his life who could help him make those goals a reality: Jennifer Garner, whom he married in 2005. "Jennifer played such a profound role in making me a better person," he gushes. "We don't have a perfect marriage, but she inspired me; and finding myself in that marriage and having a child dovetailed with getting to be a little more mature."
Now a father of three (Violet, 6, Seraphina, 3, and Samuel, 7 months), Affleck has abandoned hobbies like motorcycles and basketball to spend more time with his family. But one thing in his life has never changed: his friendship with Damon. These days, the childhood pals from Boston live down the street from one another.
"We see each other almost too often," Affleck says with a laugh. "I wonder if his wife is thinking, 'Is he really going to come over every night?'"
Check out the full Ben Affleck cover story here.