Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck are officially outnumbered by their kids with the birth of son Samuel on Feb. 27.
He joins Violet, 6, and Seraphina, 3, in a household that includes two busy movie stars trying to make their multiple schedules fit. So far, the arrangement seems to be working.
For instance, Garner found time to co-star in the fantasy, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, which opens Aug. 15.
Written and directed by Peter Hedges, the film follows the story of Cindy (Garner) and Jim Green (Joel Edgerton). They are a couple who are unable to conceive, so they decide to bury a box of wishes in their backyard. The next day the husband and wife discover a 10-year-old boy (CJ Adams) on their doorstep, although the adolescent is not what he appears to be.
Indeed, the fable mixes humour with drama, and a whole lot of yearning whimsy.
“This is a sweet kind of comedy,” admits Garner at a Beverly Hills hotel. “But you end up crying more in these types of movies than if it was the biggest tragedy in the world.”
Weepie or not, the role is relatable for the 40-year-old but only from her rookie experience with Violet. “Well, first-time mom Jennifer I could draw from,” says the actress who defines Cindy as anxious and over-protective.
What she didn’t do was coach the unmarried Edgerton on how to be an appropriate father. The Australian actor, who co-starred in last year’s Warrior, doesn’t have children but he connected almost immediately with Adams.
“So, I really didn’t need to help Joel,” says Garner. “Joel was so gifted with CJ (Adams) right from the beginning that they had their own relationship before CJ and I did.”
Off camera, the grown-up actors had separate obligations they fulfilled for their young colleague.
“I would say that Joel entertained CJ, and I made sure he had snacks and bathroom breaks,” says Garner.
It helped, too, that the young actor was exceptionally tolerant and energetic without being precocious about his job.
She marveled at his endurance when, as Timothy, he had to complete scene after scene caked in mud and showered in water.
“CJ seems like he’s from another planet, and he seems to have been plopped down here on this earth with his eyes wide open and his heart wide open,” says the actress. “I can’t imagine another little boy playing that role.”
Praise aside, it’s not a surprise that the actress hints that she wouldn’t let her children get involved in the acting business, and that’s not because Adams had it rough.
“It’s impossible for me to say my kids won’t be actors without sounding judgmental, so I just won’t,” says Garner. “I do feel like this was a beautiful experience for CJ. and I think he loved it, learned a lot from it, and is very suited to it, but it’s not always that way.”
Meanwhile, Garner and Affleck continue the mother-father trade off as they take turns shooting movies and caring for their kids.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green, filmed in Atlanta early last year, is a perfect example.
“Ben took a break from his work to come to Atlanta, and be Mr. Mom to Violet and Seraphina, so that I could do this film,” she says. “It’s a lot to juggle, but we do it.”
It was Garner’s turn to watch the children when Affleck directed and co-starred in Argo, which chronicles the behind-the-scenes events surrounding the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis at the Canadian embassy. The film opens theatrically Oct. 12 and premieres in September at the Toronto International Film Festival.
She’s not sure yet if the whole family will join Affleck when he arrives in Toronto to promote Argo. But she is certain of this; the more she takes breaks from films, the more she realizes she needs to continue working.
“I value it now, but in a different way,” says Garner of acting. “I feel like I am getting something back from it.
“It feeds a part of me that I didn’t realize I needed to take care of before. But now I don’t take a job unless there’s something in it that I need to do, and it is not that often.”
Besides The Odd Life of Timothy Green, she couldn’t resist her role in Butter, which premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival and gets its theatrical release in early October.
In the comedy, Garner plays a competitive butter sculptor based in a small Iowa town. It’s another off-beat movie.
“I feel like Cindy Green (in The Odd Life of Timothy Green) juxtaposed against Laura Pickler in Butter allows audiences to get a real idea of my sensibilities,” Garner says. “Kind of naughty and kind of nice, all blended together.”