10/10/2012 at 12:00 PM EDT
Their engagement went down
in tabloid flames and the box-office bomb Gigli
, but nearly a decade later Ben Affleck
remains friendly with his ex, Jennifer Lopez
"We don't have the kind of relationship where she relies on me for advice," he tells The Hollywood Reporter
, "but we do have the kind of relationship where there'll be an e-mail saying, 'Oh, your movie looks great.' "
"I remember when she got American Idol
," he continues. "I said: 'This was really smart. Good luck.' I touch base. I respect her. I like her. She's put up with some stuff that was unfair in her life, and I'm really pleased to see her successful."
Once a Hollywood wild child – "I went to rehab for being 29 and partying too much and not having a lot of boundaries," he says – Affleck, 40, has grown up and settled down.
to Jennifer Garner
with three children
, Affleck is now one of the most respected filmmakers, with his latest movie, Argo
, generating Oscar buzz.
Still, the negative side of celebrity never goes away. He has collected several guns since Garner faced an alleged stalker, who was ordered to a psychiatric
hospital in 2010.
"It gave me a stronger sense of feeling protective about my family," Affleck tells The Hollywood Reporter
. "There's a lot of crazy, weird people out there. It's an ugly world."