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Ben Affleck Talks Robin Williams, Past Mistakes + Fatherhood in New Interview

Ben Affleck
Phillip Faraone, Getty Images

In an intimate interview with The Guardian, Ben Affleck opened up about his life and career, including having Robin Williams as a mentor on Good Will Hunting, dealing with public attention and box-office failures, and how fatherhood changed his life for the better.

Reminiscing about his early years with friend Matt Damon and working with him on 1997’s breakout hit Good Will Hunting, Affleck credits much of the film’s success to having Robin Williams as a savior who believed in them and helped guide them as young auteurs.

“Most people can’t point to the moment that changed their life in such a dramatic way, but I can,” Affleck tells the paper. “It was the moment that Robin decided to take a flyer on that movie. I’ll always feel a huge debt to him although now I’ll never get to repay it.” He also adds, “[Robin’s] the reason why I got successful in this business. If Robin hadn’t done Good Will Hunting, Matt and I would still be sitting there today talking about how we could update that script.”

The actor went on to address a rough period of his life when his public relationships (notably with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez) dominated the tabloids, while a string of box-office failures, like Gigli and Jersey Girl, seemed to doom his career at the time. “I’d always had a strong idea about my values and the direction I wanted to be headed in, then I ran into getting famous and it totally spun me around and I flailed around for a few years. When you’re a young man in your 20s, part of that is making mistakes and learning from them. I just made those in front of everybody, rather than privately. There’s stuff I look back on and kind of cringe at but I always tried to treat other people well. My parents imbued that in me and the mistakes I made were mostly just of the embarrassing kind.”

As for when things turned around for him, Affleck credits becoming a father after marrying Jennifer Garner. “I think becoming a father makes you see the world differently and it’s good.” Affleck and Garner have since announced their separation but insist they’re on good terms.

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Next: Ben Affleck Talks Split From Jennifer Garner

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