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INT: Jennifer Garner

01.26.2007

Truthfully, I had never really seen Jennifer Garner in her popular series ALIAS. Yes, I had heard all the positive reviews and all the love that folks had for the show. But I tend to stay away from television aside from a couple cool shows. But don’t get me wrong, I did catch Jennifer in the phenomenal DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR? Okay, maybe the movie was a bit lame but I kind of dug it and I liked her in it. But with all that said, Colombia Pictures, CATCH AND RELEASE is the first time I’ve really gotten to see her work. And she is great. She gives the character of Gray Wheeler a strong believability factor and she is charming as hell.

So when she stopped by the Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, California, I didn’t expect anything less than what I got. She truly is charming, beautiful and incredibly sweet. She really does light up the room and holds her own with a room full of journalists without having to resort to being the diva. She talked about ALIAS and how terrific the experience was, and she also spoke highly of her CATCH AND RELEASE director and co-stars. And most importantly, she showed her softer side with talk about her role of motherhood, which is her most important role to date. After this, I might just have to check out ALIAS on DVD at some point. If she’s this charming in person, I can imagine how great she is on the show.

Jennifer Garner

One of the things that your director [Susannah Grant] talks about was this ‘movie interruptus’, the idea that this movie had to wait such a long time to get released, and part of it was your commitments to other things, ALIAS, family, life. How do you approach sort of having this movie caught in this suspended for so long? Does it make any difference?

I hope not, I think it’s still a great story. I don’t think it matters when it comes out. It was never certainly for a lack of anyone’s enthusiasm. I think it was because of certainly my enthusiasm that I wanted them to wait because I knew if it had come out when we first talked about it last April, they wanted it to open the last week I’d be shooting ALIAS, which couldn’t be moved because of our air date, which was so emotional for me. Even talking about it in the meeting when they first started talking about it, I said well, it was my last.., and I was ‘sob, sob’ and I was in hysteria, and I had a 2-month old baby, by then she was three and a half, four-months old.

I just knew… and I was pulled to the brink by just going to work at all, which at ALIAS, they were being very kind to me, I was working 8 hour days, I was with her most of the time, she was at set with me. But traveling with her when she was that new, and I was a first time mom, the whole thing just kind of overwhelmed me and I didn’t want to short shrift Alias and I didn’t want to short shrift the movie, so that’s kind of how my part of the decision was made. Now I’m just so happy because I can be here and feel good, I had a good night sleep, talk to all of your guys.

Why this particular character, and why this particular story, did it mean something to you personally when you read the script?

There are always hooks that kind of draw you in, but Susannah Grant’s writing is so beautiful, the first time I read it I knew I had to do it. And she asked me to do, I was beyond excited, and something happened where we had to wait a year, and I just said, I can’t let anyone else play this role, its my role, please wait for me, and she said ok, and they waited for me, so this has been interruptus a couple of times. So the writing itself is just so beautiful and speakable and playable and real. It’s just something that you don’t get to do.

You either are doing a comedy, where you’re really pushing for the comedy in finding the funny or you’re doing drama, where everything is really maudlin. And this is the balance that kind of follows our own life patterns, just felt to me like something that was true. And the things that attracted me to the character were things… well, for example that she had seen her fiancé as this prince on a white horse, and the idea of black and white and that she only saw good in him, even when he at some point tried to say hey, there is something I need to talk to you about, she didn’t want to hear it, she wanted to live in her fantasy, and in going through the hardest thing in her life, she grew up, and she was able to learn about the Gray, which p.s. its her name, so I’ll give you a little hint. [Laughter]

Very subtle.

Yes.

What interested me about the character, is that she’s going through the processes of grieving, stages of grieving, and of healing, did that strike you when you read the script?

Yes, particularly because you can go through, you can lose someone, you can lose your idea of someone, which I think was as hard for her as losing Grady himself was losing her idea of Grady, so she had to grieve doubly, you know, not just for the loss of her wedding. In the beginning of the movie, her wedding flower were being brought up to the house and she is standing there at his funeral looking and just imagining herself in that dress, and all the things that were supposed to be happening that day, and just on girl level alone, and then the fact that the man himself, her partner, her best friend, her boyfriend of forever the only way she knows life, that he’s gone.

And then her idea of who he was, that he was this straight forward, straight and arrow guy, who only loved her and never cheated on her, that that has to go away too. But you can go through all of that and with the help of friends, and with your own introspection, or whatever, growing, you can come out better and stronger, and that is something that interested me very much.

How hard was it for you to leave Sydney behind, and what challenges can you define to find a female character as strong and as complicated and as diverse as she?

Well, I was ready, and you know, five years or something, I think we all felt exactly the way we were supposed to feel at the end of ALIAS, we were all heartbroken, you’ve never seen a closer cast or group of crew. It really was the best place to work, and we all say that now when we see each other. So there was that loss, but at the same time, we really felt like we had told the story. We didn’t know what else there was to tell, we felt that we had done it justice, so it wasn’t like oh gosh, we wish this was going on another year. But I still get emotional about it. JJ [Abrams] just gave all us for Christmas this huge leather bound book of pictures starting with the pilot. I can hardly even talk about it. I can’t look at it without crying because of the crew… and I miss them, I talk to them a lot.

Do you keep any wigs or costumes?

No, I’m not… I just don’t care about that stuff, so I don’t know where all those wigs are, I mean there are hundreds of thousands of dollars of wigs that only fit my head, that are floating around Los Angeles, but no, I’m sure they’re in a Disney warehouse somewhere.

Find some character that you can give us an account of?

Oh, well, that’s cuz forgot… I got interested in my own story. Will I find another character? Yeah, the lucky thing is that there are great writers out there, and its just finding the character that fits you and then you have to get the job and you know there are a lot of things that has to happen. But this was definitely a character that I felt as strongly as I felt about Sydney.

Is this a female sensibility this film, and I want to background that with the idea that in classic Hollywood movie in the golden era, all the women’s directors were gay men, like George Cukor, and they were famous for having understanding how women talk, how they feel like, how they dress, do you think that there is that sensibility now with people like Susannah Grant?

Yeah, not just with Susannah, I mean JJ certainly isn’t gay, but he can write women like nobody’s business. I mean, there are just people who get a female vibe, and Susannah without a doubt, that was one of the things I loved about making this movie, we just had girl heaven, there was Jenno Topping, this wonderful producer who was smart and to the point and no bullshit and then there’s Susannah who is this incredible writer who in the middle of the scene if it wasn’t working, you can kind of say, well I feel like I should be saying Susannah is this, what I’m trying to get across is this, and she says, oh well, you’re right, let me just take a minute.

Literally, you’d think that she’s gone to the bathroom or something and she’d come back and have reworded it in such a way that it was all clear and there, so that’s kind of magical to have somebody who has that ability, right there, everyday, all the time. And just her warmth and kind of her calmness and her stillness, I mean normally sets at some point there’s a blowup, like the director would be like, ‘c’mon guys we gotta go’, that never happened with her, it could not have been more just Zen and chill, I’m sure you got from talking to her. She’s very [makes a sound representing centeredness] [Laughter]

As the girl in the cast of mostly guys, did your relationship with your cast members mirror what you saw on screen, Gray and roommates?

Umm, there’s nothing better than being a girl in the middle of a group of guys, you know what I mean, it’s true. And for women, as hard as it is because there are so many more men’s roles than there are women’s, typically that’s the way it is, once you get there, you have this big group of guys to play with, and they treat you as one of them, and so I loved it, and did my relationship with the cast members mirror the ones with the characters, no not really, its hard to think that because there was romance, intrigue and tension, and there was none of that certainly, and with banter and friendship, and them treating me like a dude, yes and that was heaven.

Although I have to say my favorite, well, Kevin Smith is so great, but my other favorite, favorite thing about the movie was Juliette Lewis, who I think…She is a genius or what, she’s so funny. And the first day of rehearsal, she came and she was like, I can’t do this, this doesn’t make sense to me, I don’t think I should be doing this, I can’t do this, and she would start to talk, and I would be like you’re a genius, and I think I love you. [Laughter]

What would determine the kind of work that you would be doing, and how much do you weigh the validity of the project to the fact that you’re mom now?

The validity of the project? Well, I mean, it’ll determine what I do in that just timing-wise, I don’t think I could do two huge things back to back anymore. I couldn’t do a single lead on a one-hour drama anymore. So just on a very practical level and I have to love something a lot to be willing to not be with my little girl everyday. I will have had 6 months straight with her before I go back to work and its heaven on earth. But it’s great because I have it just so good right now, I’m afraid if I even tell you, it’ll get screwed up. Because I’m home with her, and I get filled up with her, and I’m definitely the primary caregiver all the time, but I do have enough meetings with my production company that I find really fun and fascinating, and I use my mind in a different way that I do get out of the house.

What sort of surprise have you found out about motherhood?

I thought it would be easier, I thought the pull from her would not be as huge as it is, I thought it would be easier for me to work, that I’d be like oh its fine, she’s here, she’s happy, and that actually isn’t the case. She is fine; I’m the one who is a wreck if I don’t get to be with her.

How are you staying so well-adjusted then?

She is right now, we have four teeth come in at once, that was a rough month, she’s a pretty good sleeper, you know, so if you crash out at 9, it’s not so bad.

In terms of family, how difficult was it doing THE KINGDOM off shore?

I was here, I was in Arizona.

So you didn’t have to go over to the Middle East.

No, they did go, but I wasn’t in that scene, so I didn’t go.

Do you feel that at this point in your life, you have it all; you have a great career, your movies… Or do you just appreciate every moment?

I have those moments in the middle of the night of course; I don’t think I’d be human if I didn’t. But I really try to just to exist in it and to be… feel how happy I am, and just enjoy it. I mean, life is always going to have hard spots, ups and downs, whatever, so what’s the point if you’re in one of those spots where there’s a balance and happiness and joy and health, and if you don’t at least appreciate it and take advantage of it.

That was kind of our thing on ALIAS, when things would get really tough, as they do on any series, we would always say to each other, lets just appreciate this now, because when its over, we’re going to look back and say oh remember how great it was to all be together, and at least if we just know that we’re appreciating it while its happening we won’t feel like it was wasted, even though we can think it sucks today at the same time, and I kinda …I mean, my life doesn’t suck today at the same time… but I mean in general that kind of my attitude, just love it.

Who are you playing in THE KINGDOM?

I play Janet Mayes, she is FBI agent, and she’s one of four, there’s Chris Cooper, Jamie Foxx, Jason Bateman and myself, and it’s so much fun to be with those three guys. We’re going to Saudi Arabia to investigate a terrorist attack against a western civilization within the kingdom.

Some actors like working with certain directors quite often. Greg Grunberg loves to work with JJ, have you been contacted at all to work with JJ again in the near future, maybe in Star Trek or anything?

[Laughter] JJ’s contacted by me everyday, saying what are we doing, what are we doing next, now what do you want to do, its me, how are you, what are you doing, I’m outside his house, with coffee in the morning, hi JJ, its me. Um no, I don’t think I have been contacted by JJ yet, but you know he’s one of those great guys that you know life is long, and you know he has a core group of actors… how great was Keri Russell in Mission [Impossible] 3, I hope that someday he and I will get to do something together again, because anybody who works with him, he’s just their favorite favorite.

Your character is quite reserved and held her emotions in, are you kind of like that yourself?

More than Gray definitely, I just cry more. You know, sometimes its harder, sometimes you can’t just help but babble about how you feel about something but Gray, one of the things that I liked about her was that she was going through this hard time that she was trying to resolve. I don’t think she let herself have a ton of emotions so she’s trying to figure out how to go through the grieving process without it being too messy and in the end it kind of is. It’s just a little messy.

What do you see in movies that you are a producer now? What role or TV or whatever that you didn’t see as an actor, and what roles are you looking for?

We are having a blast with our producing company, my producing partner Juliana and me. And we are just amazed at the development process and how much you can be a part of the script changing and how much you can be a part of a story, waking up in the middle of the night and thinking what if in the third act this happened, you know. We had three meetings this week, each of them were three hours long about one script that won’t happen forever but we’re just kind of in this intense phase. I think I will look at every script that I do differently from now on because I’ll see that it’s not just set in stone. I’ve never really tried to affect a change on a script that I’ve been given. I’m a good little girl, and you give it to me and I go and say my lines and now I may be a terror. [Laughter]

People say that you studied Boulder [Colorado], that you looked into Boulder are you a big researcher for every role?

Yeah, of course, it makes it more fun, it makes it more rich for yourself. Although you probably won’t see me acting out that I know what Boulder is. Yeah, I did, I studied everything I could from the grieving process, to Boulder, to the Green Party, to what her wedding would have been like, just to have it all in your mind somewhere.

Do you know what you’re doing next?

Yes, I do actually. I’m gonna do this little project called JUNO, that Jason Reitman is gonna direct, who did THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, which he did such a great job on.

Is it wry, sort of...?

A little bit, it’s this wonderful script that I have been waiting for it to come together for the past year, and when Jason came on to it I was so excited. I was so excited they asked me to be in it, and I have a small role, and only working a couple weeks. And it’s just cool, it’s called JUNO and it’s written by this kooky woman named Diablo Cody. Have you ever heard of her? She just decided randomly to become a stripper for a year. It isn’t about that… [Laughter] You should look her up. She’s pretty funny. Anyway, her personality infuses the whole script so its gonna be a blast.

Who do you play in that?

I play a woman who can’t have children, and who is wanting to adopt.

One of the things that is interesting about this movie CATCH AND RELEASE is that you’re very reactive. You were talking about Gray’s approach to life. Do you have to react to everybody? And I’m curious if the acting process is different for when you have to react and hold things in, than when you’re proactive in ALIAS. And I’m assuming in THE KINGDOM for example, you’re proactive, you’re in there, and you’re causing things to happen. Could you contrast those styles for you?

It makes it much more... not that it isn’t always, but you have to pay more attention to the part of you that’s listening to your cast. In the scene you become the listener, what you do is much more about what they do. Does that make any sense? Yeah, that was kind of lame, but it kind of is the truth. You’re at the mercy of the actors that you’re working with and luckily Tim and Sam and Kevin, kooky Kevin, and Juliette were all great.

Kevin is best friends with your husband [Ben Affleck], how involved is he in your normal day to day life?

I think they mostly just write hateful emails back and forth, [Laughter] from what I can tell.

Do you ever read them?

No, no. I just hear Ben laughing to himself when he’s returning one, kind of maniacally alone.

Is Ben as profane as Kevin when it comes to that kind of stuff?

That’s probably why I don’t read them. He isn’t around me, but I have a feeling…

As a good girl, like you said sticking to the script, what’s it like to work with an actor like Kevin Smith, who’s so improvisational, do you react to that?

It was good for me and it was a blast. He never once said the lines that were on the page. I don’t know if Susannah told you this but she would say during a scene, please just once do it like I’ve written it. I mean she’s an Academy Award nominated writer, do what she wrote, you know. But he couldn’t. And every now and then he’d do it. And he blatantly would say, just give me a line reading, just tell me how you want me to say it, cuz your line doesn’t make sense to me. And she would be like ‘aw Kevin’, and she’d do the line for him, which is like the no-no of directing and acting, and he would do it, and he’d be like hysterical. So he was a novelty on the set.

Do you keep a straight face when working with him?

I’m bad about keeping a straight face anyway. I very rarely keep a straight face a whole day, so no, I can say that I did not keep a straight face with Kevin Smith nor did I with anyone else.

Do you miss the action stuff; I mean that action babe kind of roles? Do you ever want to go back and do that again?

I mean, I do like it. I do think that it satisfies this part of me that I didn’t even know was there. And I like that physicality of it in general. I like roles that are physical. I like physical comedy. I don’t really care. But the action per se, not necessarily, but the roles that tend to have action in them, if they are well done, I like. And I love my stunt double so much that I’m always seduced by getting to be with her.

For many years you have to train yourself, you have to train, you have to push yourself, now that you don’t have to do that, do you do it for just taking care of yourself, is it something that you miss…

That’s so true. At first when I finished ALIAS, I didn’t work out for a long time, and I didn’t lose my baby weight for a long time, it was just kind of annoying because I just didn’t want to, I didn’t want to take that hour away from her and work out, or if she was sleeping and I was exhausted, I wanted to just veg or take a nap or something. And then finally this summer, I noticed my own energy has shifted, because I wasn’t taking care of myself the way that I had become really accustomed to. So then I just got on a treadmill and started getting back in shape, and I still am slower than I used to be, because I just am not… There’s something bigger in my life now, so I might do twenty minutes where I would have done forty-five before.

Now that you guys are married, you have a baby together, is there a tendency to say we want to maintain a work-life separation and not appear together on screen again?

A big part of it is somebody’s gotta raise the kid. So if we’re both at work, that’s a bummer for her. But yeah, there’s no rush, we’re not looking for anything to do together.

Is there a defining moment when you realized that you’re famous?

Yeah, I mean there was a defining moment where I realized it. I went shopping, this was a long time ago, I’ve told this story before, but it was a big moment in my life. It was the year ALIAS had come out and I hadn’t been out in the world once since July when it started, and it was December and I went Christmas shopping, and it was freaky and terrifying. I mean in July I could have gone shopping and nobody would have seen me or said anything, and it wouldn’t have been a big deal at all, but in December, in that short amount of time, I couldn’t even take a step without somebody stopping me and picture and da da da and that has just never ever happened to me before. So that was the defining.

How have you coped with fame since that? Are you much more level-headed about it now?

Well, I keep my knickers on. [Laughter] Oh great, sorry. I have a strange relationship with it, I think most people do, it’s not a comfortable way to live your life. There are great things about it, and it’s also one of these things. But my life is really great, so I find it hard to complain too much.

Two actors in a household, how do you manage to keep Hollywood out of your daily life routine? Do you have a rule at home that you don’t talk about the job or something like that?

Yes, we have rule... [Laughing] no, that would be awesome. No, don’t say that, don’t tell me about your day, aw, stop. No, it’s pretty easy when there’s a baby; you basically talk about the baby.

Let me know what you think. Send questions or comments to jimmyo@joblo.com.

Source: JoBlo.com

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