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A stalker, the nanny and rehab: Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's relationship, 20 years on.

It’s a tale as old as tabloids. The wholesome leading lady meets troubled star; troubled star reforms, settles down, stays on the straight and narrow (and all the other platitudes) until younger nanny comes along, and things crumble in a spectacularly public way.

It would be laughably clichéd if it wasn’t just so damn sad.

That’s the very real story of the relationship of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, one that began 20 years ago this year.

“I didn’t want to get divorced”: Ben Affleck on the end of his marriage. Post continues after video. 

Video by ABC

Affleck and Garner met on the set of 2000 film, Pearl Harbour.

Garner was married to actor Scott Foley at the time, and by the time they reunited for Daredevil two years later, Affleck was in his storied relationship with Jennifer Lopez (think Gigli, think Jersey Girl, think Affleck kissing her bum on a yacht in the ‘Jenny from the Block’ music video).

Yet that film, Affleck later told Playboy, was when their relationship began — emotionally speaking, at least.

“We met on ‘Pearl Harbor,’ which people hate, but we fell in love on ‘Daredevil.’ By the way, she won most of the fights in the movie, which was a pretty good predictor of what would happen down the road,” he told the men’s mag.

Garner’s marriage ended in 2003, and she began dating her Alias co-star Michael Vartan, before beginning a relationship with Affleck in mid-2004, a few months after he called off his engagement to Jenny from t Jennifer Lopez.

They married on June 29, 2005, in Turks and Caicos, and went on to have three children: Violet (born in 2005) and Seraphina (born in 2009) and one son, Samuel (born in 2012).

The couple in 2011. Image: Getty.
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That's when Affleck said his relationship with his fame shifted.

He was used to tabloids and paparazzi ("the crucible by flashbulb", he once called it) but, as he and Garner became more and more successful, a horde of photographers began following their daughter to preschool.

It led Garner's long-time stalker right to them.

"He was in the pack of paparazzi," Affleck told Playboy. "They didn’t know he was a guy who was threatening to murder our family. That makes me angry. It’s a safety thing, and there’s also a sanity thing. My kids aren’t celebrities. They never made that bargain."

The stalker was arrested that day and ultimately committed to a psychiatric facility.

The nanny and the divorce.

The decade marriage milestone had barely passed (by barely, I mean a single day) when Garner and Affleck announced their separation.

A month after that, gossip sites were saturated with rumours that Affleck had struck up a relationship with their children's nanny.

Affleck's camp firmly denied any impropriety, but Garner appeared to suggest otherwise during an interview with Vanity Fair in March 2016.

For a smart take on pop culture news, catch the latest episode of The Spill. (Post continues.)

“Let me just tell you something,” Garner said. “We had been separated for months before I ever heard about the nanny. She had nothing to do with our decision to divorce. She was not a part of the equation. Bad judgment? Yes. It’s not great for your kids for [a nanny] to disappear from their lives.”

Reflecting on the fallout from the situation, she added, "I have had to have conversations about the meaning of 'scandal'."

What was part of the equation, then? According to Affleck, his addiction to alcohol was a factor. His own father had struggled with alcoholism to the point that Affleck's mother kicked him out, and he wound up enduring a period of homelessness.

Affleck credited Garner with keeping him focused on his career and stable for more than a decade.

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“I drank relatively normally for a long time," Affleck told The New York Times. "What happened was that I started drinking more and more when my marriage was falling apart. This was 2015, 2016. My drinking, of course, created more marital problems."

The divorce was finalised in October 2018, two months after Garner was famously photographed driving a shattered-looking Affleck to rehab.

“The biggest regret of my life is this divorce,” Affleck added during his interview with The NY Times. “Shame is really toxic. There is no positive byproduct of shame. It’s just stewing in a toxic, hideous feeling of low self-worth and self-loathing.”

New lives, new relationships.

Affleck's girlfriend. Images: Getty.

The couple is now co-parenting their children, and both are in new relationships: Garner with entrepreneur, John C. Miller, who she's been dating since 2018; and Affleck with Cuban-born actor, Ana de Armas (who's due to star in the upcoming James Bond movie, No Time to Die).

Affleck appears to be biding away the coronavirus pandemic with de Armas, mostly by walking the dog in his trackies. His children have joined them at least once in full view of the paparazzi, which is Hollywood code for 'this is serious'.

Meanwhile, Garner's Instagram suggests she's living the lockdown life we all imagined for our (better) selves: baking biscotti, doing pushups and reading storybooks to her Golden Retriever.

There is also evidence of Garner taking a masked walk around L.A. this week while pushing her cat in a stroller.

Yes.

Feature Image: Getty.

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