The drama at Ben Affleck's house in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles began to unfold on Wednesday afternoon.

It first became clear that not all was well when Ben's estranged wife, Jennifer Garner, turned up at the US$19 million ($28.6 million) property reportedly carrying a Bible and accompanied by a lawyer, the Daily Mail reported.

A while later, she came outside and asked waiting paparazzi if they could move away, adding: "It's bad enough, it's hard enough."

Affleck and Garner at a Boston Red Sox game in 2005. Photo / Getty Images
Affleck and Garner at a Boston Red Sox game in 2005. Photo / Getty Images

It became clear what she meant when Jennifer, accompanied by another woman, climbed into the front of the Range Rover parked on the drive, and Ben got into the back seat.

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Red-faced, bleary-eyed and obviously upset, Ben Affleck — Hollywood heart-throb and hero to millions of young people in his role as Batman, the Caped Crusader — was evidently in the throes of an emotional storm.

On this occasion, it was he who was in need of rescuing, and it was his estranged actress wife, armed with her Bible, who came to his aid.

Later that day, the vehicle reportedly delivered the actor to the confines of The Canyon Treatment Centre, in Malibu, a rehab facility where he is said to be planning to stay for "an extended period of time".

En route, 46-year-old Jennifer stopped at a Jack In The Box fast food drive-thru and picked up a takeaway for Ben.

A look of exasperation on her face was evident as she handed the paper bag to her husband, sitting helpless and hungry in the back seat.

Affleck has himself admitted he has a problem with alcohol and has been in rehab twice already, once back in 2001, the second time just last December.

Friends suggest that once he starts drinking he finds it hard to stop.

According to the showbusiness website TMZ, Affleck started drinking again "a while ago" and has "got progressively worse".

Just two months ago, Affleck's life seemed settled. In late May, he moved into his new home in Pacific Palisades, just up the road from where Garner, whom he married in 2005 and split from in 2015, lives with their three children, Violet, 12, Seraphina, nine, and Samuel, six.

He was in a steady relationship with Lindsay Shookus, a television producer from New York.

The amiable arrangement would enable the pair to "co-parent" their children in a civilised fashion. That was the plan, anyway.

The first sign that something was wrong came last Thursday (US time), the day after his 46th birthday, when he was seen dining at Nobu restaurant, not with girlfriend Lindsay but with Shauna Sexton, a 22-year-old part-time model who was awarded the title of Playboy's Miss May earlier this year.

This started rumours that Ben and Lindsay, who haven't been seen publicly in over a month, had split up.

On Sunday, looking jaded and bleary-eyed, Affleck drove Shauna to Jack In The Box, for the very unstarry meal of a cheeseburger, fries and Diet Coke.

Affleck was in a steady relationship with Lindsay Shookus, left, a television producer from New York. Photo / Getty Images
Affleck was in a steady relationship with Lindsay Shookus, left, a television producer from New York. Photo / Getty Images

On Monday this week, he was conspicuous by his absence from the ceremony for his wife Jennifer's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Poised and radiant in an elegant Roland Mouret dress, she posed for pictures with her three children, her parents and sisters.

Meanwhile, up the road in his bachelor pad, in scruffy grey tracksuit pants and grey T-shirt, Ben was taking delivery of a box of bottles.

If Garner was aware that a storm was brewing in her family, she did not show it. She smiled and posed and did everything that was expected of her.

The next day, Tuesday, a blonde woman with tattoos all down one arm and on her feet was photographed at the house. By Wednesday, it seems, the situation had reached crisis point.

Jennifer, the mother of his children, evidently felt she had to intervene.

She was raised a Methodist and continues to take her children to church every Sunday in Los Angeles.

In taking the Bible to Affleck, she appears to be attempting to persuade him to seek help, as she may have done, in faith.

"Jennifer still loves Ben, not in the way she once did, but because he is the father of her children," a friend of hers told the Mail.

"She worries about him constantly and genuinely only wants what is best for him.

"He can be a total idiot at times, and apparently his drinking has been spiralling out of control.

"Jennifer is concerned that he will do something stupid in front of the children, or, God forbid, get behind the wheel of his car after he's been drinking."

The friend revealed that one of the reasons the marriage ended was over Ben's drinking.

"Ben has had a problem with alcohol for a long time," says the friend. "He thinks he can have the odd beer here and there — but he can't seem to stop at just that.

"Jennifer has read him the riot act on a number of occasions. He agrees to stop, then slips back into his old habits. It was one of the reasons the marriage broke up.

"He has been drinking way too much lately, it shows all over his face. He's puffy and blotchy, not a great look for a movie star."

Shauna Sexton, a 22-year-old part-time model who was awarded the title of Playboy's 'Miss May' earlier this year, was romantically-linked to Affleck. Photo / Getty Images
Shauna Sexton, a 22-year-old part-time model who was awarded the title of Playboy's 'Miss May' earlier this year, was romantically-linked to Affleck. Photo / Getty Images

Jennifer and her family will be hoping that Affleck will benefit from his stay in The Canyon Treatment Centre.

According to its website, it "provides an exquisite healing oasis for individuals seeking recovery in an outpatient setting.

"We engage the whole person in the healing process and extend an invitation for each patient's loved ones to be involved in treatment to build a solid foundation for lasting recovery."

Jennifer, no doubt, will take an interest in Ben's recovery from this latest relapse. Indeed, there has been speculation about the marriage because of the couple's apparent reluctance to finalise their divorce.

Two weeks ago, it was reported that the LA Superior Court threatened to terminate their case because they have yet to file the required paperwork.

Documents obtained by The Blast showbusiness website reportedly say: "If you fail to take the appropriate steps in your case, the court may dismiss your case for delay in prosecution."

Jennifer's friend, however, says there are no plans for a reconciliation. "They have managed to stay friends — and not just because of the children.

"There is a genuine friendship there. But divorce is still on the cards, even though they have yet to finalise the details."

Following their split, Jennifer confirmed rumours that Ben had become involved with their children's nanny, Christine Ouzounian, but said they had been "separated for months" before anything happened between them.

She told Vanity Fair: "Let me just tell you something. 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."

Yet the nanny was still sacked when the affair was revealed.

Jennifer said in the interview: "Bad judgment? Yes. It's not great for your kids for [a nanny] to disappear from their lives. I have had to have conversations with them about the meaning of scandal."

Despite everything, Jennifer remains loyal to Ben. The present crisis seems to be a case of history repeating itself.

Ben, who grew up with his parents and younger brother, Casey, also an actor, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has spoken in the past about his father Tim's problem with alcohol and recalled that he would drink "all day . . . every day".

Tim Affleck's drinking eventually led to the breakdown of his marriage to Ben's teacher mother, Christine.

Ben's big Hollywood break came after he co-wrote and starred in Good Will Hunting in 1997 with his friend, Matt Damon.

Suddenly he was on the Hollywood A-list. He dated actress Gwyneth Paltrow on and off from 1997 to 2000.

Then, from 2002 to 2004, he was in a high-profile relationship with singer/actress Jennifer Lopez.

It was a dramatic two years, avidly followed by the tabloids, and culminating with Affleck "postponing" their wedding four days before it was due to take place. They split months later.

He married the other Jennifer, Jennifer Garner, the following year.

His acting career has never stalled since Good Will Hunting and he has also become a successful director.

In 2013, Argo, the film in which he starred and directed, won the Best Picture Oscar. In 2014, he starred in psychological thriller Gone Girl, then in 2016 he changed direction when he took on the role of Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Last year, Affleck played the Caped Crusader again in Justice League. In recent months it has been rumoured that Affleck will not play Batman again.

But his career is still going strong and just last month he was in Puerto Rico filming a political thriller, The Last Thing He Wanted, with Anne Hathaway.

Returning to Los Angeles, he appears to have had a fatal amount of spare time on his hands.

Whether Affleck had started drinking because his relationship with Lindsay Shookus began to fail, or whether the relationship ended because of his drinking, is not clear.

He's in a bad place, but Hollywood insiders say the episode needn't negatively impact on his career if he gets his act together.

"Like many before him, including Robert Downey Junior, who had a very public battle with drug addiction, Ben will survive if he manages to stay away from alcohol," said one producer, who has worked with Affleck on a number of films.

"He isn't a falling-over drunk — or at least not on set — and he's essentially a nice enough guy.

"By going back into rehab, he shows that he knows he has a serious problem and is doing something about it."