The Way Back opens March 6


Ben Affleck digs deep for his new emotional new sports drama, The Way Back.

In a PEOPLE exclusive, the Oscar winner, 47, introduces a powerful scene from the Gavin O’Connor-directed film.

“What you’re about to see is a scene between me and Brandon [Wilson],” he says. “I play the coach and Brandon is the most talented player with the most potential, and I’m trying get him to open up and encourage him to try.”

In the drama, the actor plays Jake Cunningham, a former basketball phenom who, for reasons unknown, walked away from the game. Years later he’s asked to coach the basketball team for his alma mater. In building the underperforming group’s spirits up, Jack is forced to wrestle with his own demons and conquer his alcoholism which has destroyed his life.

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The scene finds Jake having a heart-to-heart with one of his players, where he opens up about his dark past.

“My father didn’t like me very much,” Affleck as Jake says. “Someone told him I was good at basketball and he’d pay more attention to me. The better I got, the more love he showed me… And then I realized it wasn’t me that he loved, it’s what I can do.”

“I’ve made a lot of bad decisions, Brandon,” he continues. “A lot of regret. I spent a lot of time hurting myself trying to hurt my father. It was my wife who got me out of that.”

the way back
The Way Back
| Credit: Richard Foreman

Affleck has raved about the experience of making The Way Back, telling PEOPLE, “Gavin and the extraordinary cast of young actors who played the basketball players made me better every day and reminded me why I wanted to be an actor twenty five years ago—simply because I love it.”

O’Connor said the film is “very much a story about the human condition— love, loss, hope, redemption.” “I’m deeply proud of Ben’s commitment to the process and his exploration of the character,” he added.

The Way Back was Affleck’s first project after completing a 40-day stay at a treatment center last October. “Battling any addiction is a lifelong and difficult struggle,” he said at the time in a statement.

The Way Back opens March 6.