Michaela Watkins (“Casual”) plays Jack’s worried sister. In one memorable scene, he sits in her kitchen pretending to be fine — fine. When she challenges him, he explodes. “Out of nowhere in one take, Ben backhanded the beer can sitting in front of him,” Watkins said by phone. “It was immediate, and it was scary and it was exactly the right instinct. He was a powder keg, and she had no idea that she had lit it.”
Affleck talked about that moment, too.
“She’s pressing to see if he’s OK, and I know how uncomfortable that can be for an alcoholic — when you have that nagging, irritating, suspicious feeling that the person is right, but you don’t want to admit it. Smacking the can was my version of backed-into-a-corner, primal level of denial, the way our minds hold onto these addictions in a reptilian way.”
Toward the end of “The Way Back” (spoiler alert) Jack has a powerful interaction with his ex-wife (Janina Gavankar, “The Morning Show”). He is in rehab at this point, and, when she comes to see how he is doing, he offers her an unflinching apology.
“I failed you,” he says. “I failed our marriage.”
It’s rough stuff, especially when watched through the prism of everything that has gone on with Affleck offscreen. You can’t help but think about similar conversations that he must have had with Garner.
“It was really important, without being mawkish or false, that he make amends to her — that he take accountability for the pain that he and only he has caused,” Affleck said.
O’Connor said that Affleck had a “total breakdown” on set after completing the scene.
“It was like a floodgate opened up,” O’Connor said. “It was startling and powerful. I think that was a very personal moment in the movie. I think that was him.”