Ben Affleck Shares Inspiring Story Behind Drama Teacher Who Pushed Him

Premiere Of Warner Bros Pictures' " The Way Back" - Arrivals

Premiere Of Warner Bros Pictures' " The Way Back" - Arrivals

Mentors are fundamental in shaping lives. Ben Affleck phoned into On Air With Ryan Seacrest on Tuesday, March 3, and shared he’ll never forget the high school drama teacher who helped push him to follow his dreams.

The Oscar winner, who stars in new sports drama The Way Back, shared with Seacrest he wanted to take on a role that was challenging personally.

The movie, which Affleck calls “honest and also inspiring,” follows a widowed, former basketball all-star who after struggling with addiction attempts to comeback by becoming the coach of a disparate high school basketball team at his alma mater.

“It was really an acting challenge,” Affleck, who has been open about his own abuse struggles, shared. “I had been doing a lot of effects-based sort of movies with green screens and costumes and very technical kind of stuff and I waned to tell a really human story and I wanted to find a story that would be inspirational about overcoming adversity and that could potentially get people to feel something — feel inspired, feel moved, feel empathy and when I got the script I thought this was the perfect opportunity.”

Affleck added that he remembered his own inspiring mentor growing up: His high school drama teacher Gerry Speca.

“There was a drama teacher I had,” he explained. “We went to a big public school and it was … a little intimidating place but we had this great drama teacher … who taught me and Matt [Damon] and my brother [Casey Affleck] and so many people who’ve come through there … and he gave me the sense I could do [it]. … There was a point in my high school graduation I’ll never forget. He said to me, 'I think if you want to follow through with this, you can do this. You can be successful.’ And I had a lot of years like kicking around and auditioning and struggling but those words were really important to me. They meant a lot to me.”

Listen back to the full interview in the audio above and catch The Way Back in theaters on March 6.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)