Ben Affleck is revealing he once experienced a "dissociative panic attack" after smoking marijuana as a teenager. Affleck shared the story in the book Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, which is about the classic '90s stoner-film Dazed and Confused. Affleck starred in the film when he was 19 years old, playing Fred O'Bannion — a mean-spirited high school senior hell-bent on making life difficult for freshmen.
"I had a bad experience with marijuana at 15. I had a dissociative panic attack," the actor shared. "So, I only smoked weed if everyone else was smoking, and I had to sort of 'Bill Clinton' it and fake it. I didn’t really like marijuana." Affleck's referral to the 42nd President of the United States is likely a reference to Clinton once saying that he experimented with marijuana as a young man, but "didn't inhale."
Affleck went on to address his struggles with substance addiction, which were not related to drug use. "I also wasn’t a very heavy drinker then. I became an alcoholic much, much later, and I’m in recovery now, so that was a whole different time," he said. "I was a little nervous, like, 'Should we be drinking before we’re working tomorrow?' Some people were actually drinking and getting stoned at work."
While he didn't partake in any drinking or drug use while filming Dazed and Confused, Affleck says he did take advantage of other opportunities, such as checking out a nearby gun range. "Texas had extremely lax gun laws and most of us came from states where it was next to impossible to buy guns," he shared. "So, part of the newfound freedom of being down there was that a bunch of us bought guns and went shooting at ranges on weekends, which seemed fun and innocent at the time, but given the subsequent tragedies with young people and guns, it now makes me uncomfortable to remember."
Notably, Dazed and Confused was writer/director Richard Linklater's first big film project, after garnering some buzz over his 1990 indie-film, Slacker. However, his opus on teenage life in the '70s was not the massive box office success many were hoping it would be. The film only earned $8 million on a budget of nearly $7 million. It would later go on to achieve "cult classic" status, earning mass critical and fan acclaim.