Brothers FTW: How Ben Affleck and Casey Affleck Have Always Supported Each Other in the Toughest of Times – E! NEWS

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Ben Affleck and Casey Affleck have been there for each other as they've reached great heights in Hollywood, Ben triumphing as a triple-threat filmmaker and Casey now the reigning Best Actor Oscar winner for his impossibly nuanced performance in Manchester by the Sea.
But it's easy to be on each other's side in good times.
More notably, they've been there for each other when everything turned to crap, through the proverbial and literal Giglis of life.  
Both brothers, the only children of parents Timothy Affleck and Chris Anne Boldt, started acting as kids in the 1980s. And yes, while Ben became the bigger name early on, Casey has been standing out in meaty supporting roles or in smaller films, starting with 1994's To Die For, for nearly as long. They've also worked on four movies together, including one co-written (Good Will Hunting) and one directed and written (Gone Baby Gone) by Affleck. 
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't like it. It's great," Casey told The Scotsman in 2008, referring to the surplus press Gone Baby Gone got because it was Affleck's feature directorial debut. "And of course it's nice to have people respond positively because in the past I've sure experienced the opposite. I haven't done many movies that I've been proud of. The ones I've loved, other people haven't responded to."
Some headlines over the years have tried to paint the Affleck brothers' relationship as more of a heated rivalry than a mutual support system, with the theme being that Ben's the big star but Casey's the real actor and one or the other must hate that, but there's been no evidence of any real rift between the two.
Those divisive stories more often include outside judgment regarding the brothers' respective skill sets than they do any knowledge of their actual feelings.
Instead, they've had each other's backs at premieres and film festivals, provided shoulders to lean on during the lean periods and served as doting uncles to each other's kids.
 
"You get to where you have had enough failures and you realize that you've got one brother," Casey told The Scotsman in 2008. "You are going to ruin the relationship by being competitive over who gets to be in a movie? Are you kidding me?"
Eight years later, talking to Variety, he had a lot more perspective and a few hard knocks under his belt when he admitted that sometimes being connected to so many stars—Ben, Matt Damon, best friend Joaquin Phoenix, etc.—wasn't awesome all the time.
"When people say, 'Oh you're so-and-so's friend, brother or husband,' it's reductive to the point of being white noise," he said. "At times, it's made things harder. At times, it's made things easier."
But while the narrative could be twisted into making it seem as though their creative choices belie a certain built-in animosity, their largely divergent paths—mixed with the occasional cinematic reunion—likely made their bond even stronger.
The most recent example: Casey wasn't ever going to be up for Batman, while Ben wasn't going to be offered Manchester by the Sea. Their longtime mutual pal Matt Damon, who co-produced and was going to star in the drama but had a scheduling conflict, knew that Casey was the only guy to replace him—and Matt and Ben's friendship certainly hasn't suffered for it.
"[My friendship with Matt] is an incredibly valuable friendship and it's very precious and so is my friendship with my brother. I don't know what I would do without those guys," Ben told ET at the premiere of Live by Night last December. 
A couple months later, Ben was on hand to witness Casey's triumphant 2016-17 award season culminate in an Oscar win (and give him a big bear hug and kiss), just as Casey was cheering Ben on when he picked up two Oscars, in 1998 and 2013.
And just like most big brothers would be, Ben was there to pointedly embarrass Casey with a personal story about the latter's lack of understanding of how urinals work when it was pointed out to the elder Affleck that the younger hadn't thanked him for his support along the way during his Golden Globe acceptance speech.
Meanwhile, even though much was made of Casey's omission, thinking of Ben as a given in his mind—if not expressly saying his name out loud—could just as easily be another indicator of a tacit agreement to step back and let each other enjoy their respective spotlights when they're shining.
Which is also why you won't find them divulging too many details about each other when the big news is the opposite of an Oscar win. Just showing up for each other again and again is what says it all.
The Afflecks have been candid about how their dad's alcoholism (he got sober when the boys were teenagers and they've remained close) and parents' divorce affected them growing up.
"I had good friends. I had Matt Damon, I had my brother, and I had a nucleus of friends that I grew up with and I had support from [during that time]," Ben told Barbara Walters in 2012.
Casey told NPR last year, referring to his father, "I got to know a whole new person when I was a teenager, because the man I knew before [he went to rehab] was just completely different. So in some ways I kind of began my relationship with the father I know now when I was a teenager."
And while Ben's 2001 trip to rehab and his more recent round of treatment couldn't help but make headlines, Casey revealed on WTF With Marc Maron last year that he too struggles with addiction and was three years sober.
"My father was a disaster of a drinker, my grandmother was an alcoholic, my brother spent some time in rehab—it's in our genes and I understand it," he said frankly.
After going to support meetings for children of alcoholics when he was younger and visiting his dad (and later his brother) in rehab, Casey decided that he had heard enough to get him through. 
"It's just so many times, going to these meetings and sitting in circles, and talking about it all," he told Maron, "so when it came time, when I realized that I had to stop, I felt like I had already put in all that time, so I just kind of white-knuckled it at home and imagined myself in a circle. It worked."
But though Ben has overwhelmingly dominated in the personal-life headlines (an aspect of the movie-star life that Casey had no interest in experiencing for himself), Casey made his share when he worked with brother-in-law and longtime pal Phoenix on the conceptual mockumentary I'm Still Here, during Phoenix's notorious what-the-hell-is-he-up-to period. (The more serious fallout included a lawsuit filed by two female crew members who accused Casey of sexual harassment; the suit was settled and Casey via his lawyer adamantly denied the claims, but the case was brought up again repeatedly as the Oscars approached this year, stripping him of shoo-in status.)
Ben and Matt Damon said years later that they pressed Casey and Phoenix to let people in on the joke much earlier than they did, but they stubbornly stuck to their performance-art guns.
"He had to have his own compass, his own sense of north, and he's feisty and stubborn and he won't give that up," Ben reflected to The New York Times Magazine in 2013 (for a story titled "Casey Affleck Should Be More Famous," naturally). "I think the director in him was poorly served by the promoter in him, who stubbornly didn't want to give in to people who thought this was all fake."
 
Noting that Casey sacrificed the capital he'd built from Gone Baby Gone and his Oscar nomination for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Ben said, still rather admiringly, "I thought it was a really smart, creative thing that nobody else had thought of. But he did it at the expense of his acting career."
Consider amends made since then.
Meanwhile, both brothers had married, Ben tying the knot with Jennifer Garner in 2005 and Casey marrying Summer Phoenix in 2006. As their families grew to three kids for Ben and two for Casey, they took the chance whenever schedules allowed to spend time all together.
So when Ben's marriage started to crumble in 2015, resulting in Jen finally filing for divorce this year, and then Casey and Summer separated last year (Summer just filed for divorce), the brothers once again quietly stepped into each other's corner and stayed put.
The brothers have also demonstrated a shared self-awareness when it comes to appreciating their spouses, as both at different times have publicly thanked their wives, who by then were on their way to being their ex-wives, for being such wonderful mothers and partners.
So despite the persistent articles over the years about Ben's Bennifer woes and career stumbles and Casey's woefully under-recognized mega-talent, throughout they've stayed on the level with each other when it comes to what they've done for each other onscreen and off.
When Casey was cast to star in Gone Baby Gone, at the time it was actually a roll of the dice for both brothers, seeing as it was going to be his most high-profile role to date because it was in his brother's feature directorial debut—which was coming as he was rebuilding his career after a string of meh-level (to put it kindly) movies.
"I said I would read the script and I would love to work with him, but I wanted to make sure that I was right for it. I didn't want to screw it up," Casey explained to The Scotsman. "I know that casting is so important in directing a first movie, and a lot is at stake. If you don't pull it off the first time, then you rarely get a second shot. So I wanted to be very careful about the decision. We talked a lot, we disagreed about everything, and then I said: 'I'm in.'"
 
Added Ben in the interview, "You have to treat Casey as you would treat any actor in the movie, which meant trying to swallow the urge to strangle him, or to be really curt with him and just say: 'Because I say do it that way, that's why!' Instead, I had to listen more and say: 'Well, OK, that's interesting. I hear you. Let's process what you're talking about.' So it was an exercise in self-discipline for me. But the thing that's really rewarding is that my brother is a really, really good actor."
"I do remember a couple weeks into the movie, Ben would tell me to do something and I'd say: 'That's terrible,'" Casey added, noting that Ben "rarely swallowed the urge" to strangle him.
"So he'd say: 'Well, I think what you're doing is terrible.' And while we were yelling at each other, I saw [co-star] Michelle Monaghan just sitting in the chair. The look on her face was: 'What have I gotten myself into? This is like a dysfunctional family.'"
 
Reflecting on the experience more recently, however, Casey told NPR, " I knew that he was a very, very bright, super smart guy and would make a great director and we have similar tastes in movies and in acting styles and we have a shared language that makes it really easy to work together.
"And we are brothers and grew up looking after each other, so the getting-to-know-you period that wastes the first few weeks of any movie in the relationship between an actor and a director—being polite and trying to understand what the other person is saying—we didn't have to go through that. We just sort of jumped right into it.
A little teasing, a lot of love…that's just how Ben and Casey Affleck do brotherhood.
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