"I don't know, trust? And care, and mutual respect, and all the sort of usual stuff," says Affleck, who got divorced from Jennifer Garner in 2018. "But I think that's a big part of what makes life satisfying and interesting... It sort of happens when it happens, though. It's not the thing you can force."
Affleck, who's been open about his struggle with alcohol, plays Jack Cunningham, a basketball coach dealing with addiction, in The Way Back. The actor told ET that he saw his personal experience with the topic as "an advantage" when making the flick, adding that he was "feeling a full range of kind of access to my emotions" and felt "ready to do a heavy, performance-based piece."
"I knew that in this day and age of celebrities' personal lives becoming news stories, those were questions I was kind of going to answer anyway," he says. "The interesting thing for me was to be able to define the story myself, the way I see it, which is really one of hope."
"I know and have a lot of friends who have dealt with issues like this compulsive behavior and addictive behavior, and the vast majority of them are really honest, accountable people living good, healthy lives," Affleck adds. "The idea that life gets better, that you can get better, that you can overcome your obstacles, is a really important one to me and that's the approach I liked about this movie. It was not just like, 'Oh, there is alcoholism.' That's kind of ordinary."
Affleck even described the making of the movie as containing "a certain amount of therapy" due to its "emotional honesty."
"I remember Melvin's first day when he showed up and he had to show some real vulnerability and humility," Affleck says of Gregg, who plays Marcus Parrish in the movie. "As men, as young men, we are not as encouraged or taught to show that kind of thing. And he did it with bravery and with excellence. To me, that really set the tone, like, 'OK, we are going to lay this real. We are going to be honest about this story and we are going... to be vulnerable.'"
"I think you have to be vulnerable, to a certain extent, to generate empathy in the audience. If you hold too much back, if you hide everything, if you kind of withhold that stuff, you won't move an audience, you won't care," he continues. "And that's sort of the whole point of making a movie, bringing an audience in and generating compassion, and enthusiasm, and care for these characters."