After skyrocketing to success as the co-writer and star of 1997’s Good Will Hunting, Ben Affleck has reached Hollywood's highest heights—and weathered his share of public breakups, box-office bombs and personal drama

By Mike Miller
March 14, 2017 08:59 PM
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Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

After skyrocketing to success as the co-writer and star of 1997’s Good Will Hunting, Ben Affleck has reached Hollywood’s highest heights—and weathered his share of public breakups, box-office bombs and personal drama.

On Tuesday, he announced he had completed treatment for alcohol addiction. Sources told PEOPLE that while Affleck and his estranged wife Jennifer Garner aren’t back together, their divorce continues to be on hold for now after the two weathered recent strains.

“I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be,” Affleck wrote on Facebook. “I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step.”

Here’s a look back at the ups and downs of the Oscar winner’s life in the spotlight:

Becoming a Household Name

The Boston-reared star kicked off his career early as a child actor on PBS educational shows. His pre-fame days also included a gig in a 1989 Burger King commercial.

The actor then scored bit parts – often as a high school bully – in films including Dazed and Confused before befriending writer-director Kevin Smith on the set of 1995’s Mallrats. In 1997, Smith cast Affleck in his breakthrough lead role in the indie rom-com Chasing Amy.

That same year, the movie Affleck had been laboring on for five years with best friend Matt Damon finally hit theaters. Good Will Hunting was a smash hit and earned the duo an Oscar for best screenplay.

Looking for a ‘Healthier Road’

Affleck checked himself into rehab just before his 29th birthday in August of 2001. He received treatment at the popular Malibu alcohol rehabilitation center, Promises.

His spokesman told PEOPLE at the time “Ben is a self-aware and smart man who had decided that a fuller life awaits him without alcohol. He has chosen to seek out professional assistance, and is committed to traveling a healthier road with the support of his family, friends and fans.”

“I’ve been out with him a lot, and I’ve never once seen him get out of control,” said his Pearl Harbor and Armageddon director Michael Bay.

Larry Aaronson, one of Affleck’s former high school teachers, added, “People were telling him, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ and he said, ‘You know what? I think I better go take care of it.’ “

The Bennifer Downfall

Health again and a certified leading man thanks to Pearl Harbor and Armageddon, Affleck began dating fellow superstar Jennifer Lopez in 2002.

The high-profile couple, notoriously nicknamed Bennifer, dominated the spotlight. But the Sexiest Man Alive‘s relationship with J.Lo was not meant to be, and the pair called off their nuptials in a headline-making move a mere four days before their planned 2003 wedding.

While his personal life endured heavy media scrutiny, Affleck’s professional career also hit a rough patch. His first turn as a superhero, in 2003’s Daredevil, failed to impress critics, and Affleck later called it “the only movie I actually regret” in an interview with Playboy. That same year, Bennifer hit the big screen in Gigli, which was widely derided by critics and fans alike.

Finding Love and Rebuilding a Career

Affleck took a couple of years off from acting following Daredevil and Gigli. During that time he married Garner, his Daredevil costar.

The star rebooted his career in 2007 with his much-lauded directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone.

In 2012, Affleck’s third feature as a director, Argo, was also a major success. Although Affleck was snubbed for a Best Director nomination, the film ended up winning Best Picture at the 2013 Oscars.

Affleck credited Garner with giving him the “foundation” to execute his career resurgence, including a well-reviewed role in 2014’s hit Gone Girl.

“She is leaps and bounds the most important person to me in that respect. Over the past 10 years she has allowed me to have a stable home life while accomplishing my professional goals,” Affleck said of his wife in 2013. By that time the couple had three children, Samuel, now 3, Violet, 9, and Seraphina, 6.

Controversial Crusader

When it was announced that Affleck would portray Bruce Wayne in the upcoming film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, comic book fans were not shy about their dismay with the casting decision.

Despite the mixed reviews, Batman v Superman raked in over $870 million at the box office.

Meanwhile, rumors swirled that Affleck’s affinity for gambling had put a strain on his marriage with Garner. The future Batman was banned from playing blackjack at a Las Vegas casino amid reports of card counting.

Advocating by His Wife’s Side

By the beginning of 2015, it seemed Garner and Affleck had put their troubles behind them. The actress and daughter Violet proudly accompanied her husband to a Senate hearing where Affleck testified on his work with the Eastern Congo Initiative, a development grant and advocacy nonprofit he co-founded in 2010.

While the parents spent periods apart, especially while Affleck worked on Batman v Superman, they were occasionally spotted together on Starbucks runs and school pick-up.

The Separation Announcement

But in June 2015, the former couple announced their separation in a joint statement.

“After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce,” the couple told PEOPLE in a joint statement. “We go forward with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting our children whose privacy we ask to be respected during this difficult time.”

Yet in the months following their split, Garner and Affleck, both 44, continued to live together, vacation together and co-parent their kids — Violet, 11, Seraphina, 8, and Samuel, almost 5 — while also stepping out for solo outings. In fact, shortly after announcing the separation, the entire family jetted off to the Bahamas to spend time together.

WATCH: Ben Affleck Reveals He Completed Rehab for Alcohol Addiction: ‘I’m Lucky to Have the Love of My Family’

Still a Family

As the months went by following their split, Garner and Affleck continued to stick together with their kids — and a divorce filing was nowhere in sight.

The former couple reconvened for Affleck’s 43rd birthday in Atlanta, Georgia, where Garner was filming Miracles of Heaven. From Atlanta, the family traveled together to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida.

They spent Thanksgiving together with the kids in Los Angeles, and spent Christmas and Valentine’s Day as a family at their condo in Montana.

After celebrating Easter as a family in Los Angeles, Affleck and Garner spent a month in Europe with their kids while he filmed Justice League, including time in London and a family getaway to Paris. “She did have the best time in Europe with Ben and the kids,” a friend of Garner’s told PEOPLE. “She seemed to enjoy spending time with Ben again.”

Earlier this month, sources told PEOPLE that while the two aren’t back together, their divorce continues to be on hold for now after the two weathered recent strains

Returning for Help

In March 2017, Affleck announced he had completed treatment for alcohol addiction, writing in a Facebook post,“I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront.”

He continued, “I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”

Back Again

On Wednesday, Affleck was spotted heading to rehab for the third time.

The father of three is seeking treatment for alcohol addiction, according to TMZ.