February 5, 2010  •  Comments Off on Film shows love Hollywood style

Jennifer Garner, an actress and former Charleston resident, says no romantic date plans are in the works for her and husband Ben Affleck this Feb. 14.

Instead, Garner will be sharing the day with another one of Hollywood’s leading men.

“I will be spending Valentines Day with Ashton (Kutcher),” Garner said.

Garner, 37, is currently promoting “Valentine’s Day,” her upcoming film. The movie follows a diverse group of Los Angelenos navigating their way through romance and heartbreak over the course of one Valentine’s Day.

The film is directed by Garry Marshall and will be released Feb. 12.

Garner, who grew up in the Charleston area, plans to attend the Los Angeles premiere on Feb. 8 and the London premiere on Feb. 11. She said she has yet to determine what she will wear on the red carpet.

“This is a movie that is really something to get excited about,” Garner said in a phone interview from Los Angeles.

The movie’s cast includes Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Julia Roberts, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Queen Latifah, Shirley MacLaine and Emma Roberts, among others.

In the movie, Garner plays a schoolteacher and sucker for love, Julia Fitzpatrick. Her scenes, which took three weeks to complete, involve Kutcher, Dempsey and Biel.

She said because there are so many storylines in the film, she didn’t actually work with all of the actors.

In fact, it wasn’t until Jan. 29 that the entire star-studded cast came together for the first time.

Garner said working with Marshall, who has directed television and movies since the late 1960s, was a dream.

“Garry is a legend,” Garner said. “I grew up watching ‘Happy Days’ and ‘Laverne & Shirley.’ Everything he has touched has turned to gold.”

Marshall has directed other romantic comedies, including “Runaway Bride,” “Pretty Woman,” “The Other Sister” and “Overboard.”

“He doesn’t mind pushing the button in all of us that makes us cry,” Garner said. “If you have seen ‘Beaches,’ you know what I am talking about.”

She recalls first reading the script for “Valentine’s Day.”

“I knew it was a script where there were several storylines,” Garner said. “And that can either be a gimmick or a really fun way to tell a bunch of stories with a common theme. In this case, it was definitely the latter.”

Garner said the diverse storylines and characters make the film entertaining and easy to follow.

She said she used her experiences as a mother of two to play the role of a nurturing educator.

“I would hear myself talking as a teacher and I thought, ‘Wow, this comes way too easy,’ ” Garner said.

Marshall apparently chose “Fitzpatrick” as Garner’s character’s last name so the child actors would have trouble saying it. Garner said his method worked, with the children constantly stumbling over the last name on set.

In the beginning of the film, Fitzpatrick is in love with Harrison Copeland, a surgeon played by Patrick Dempsey.

“My character is someone who really loves love,” Garner said. “She thinks she’s found the one. She’s a sap.”

Garner said working with Dempsey for the second time was a lot of fun – the pair first worked together 12 years ago on an ABC pilot.

When Copeland’s career requires him to leave town on Valentine’s Day, Fitzpatrick runs into her best friend, Reed Bennett, played by Kutcher, for advice.

Garner laughs when she remembers the first time she and Kutcher worked together in 2000.

“You know. . .the Hollywood epic, ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ ” Garner said, laughing.

In 2007, Garner also starred in “The Kingdom” with Jamie Foxx, another one of her castmates in “Valentine’s Day.”

However, Garner said she never worked with Biel, who plays character Kara Monahan in the film.

Garner said Monahan is a girl who has never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day and plans a “I Hate Valentine’s Day Party” for all of her single girlfriends each year.

Garner said filming the pinata-filled party scene with Biel was the most fun she had in the three weeks on set.

“I never get to work with girls,” Garner said. “I loved being with her.”

But Garner admits she was a bit star-struck when meeting country music sensation Taylor Swift.

“She was adorable,” Garner said. “I’m a big country music fan.”

In between takes, Garner’s daughters, Violet and Seraphina, spent time with her on the set.

“Violet likes coming into the hair and makeup trailer,” Garner said. “She sits on my lap.”

However, the 4-year-old is not a fan of the hectic set.

“I’m working and can’t be with her, so it’s confusing for her,” Garner said.

Of her own Valentine’s Day experiences, Garner said the most memorable was one spent with a childhood friend, Katie Gage Crites.

Crites and Garner first met in a Charleston dance class when they were just 3 years old.

Garner said the two single women, in their 20s at the time, traveled to Napa Valley where they spent time wine tasting and eating delicious food.

The actress is certain anyone, regardless of their take on love, will enjoy “Valentine’s Day.”

“If you have been married for 50 years, if you are looking for love, if you are totally happy being single or if you’re falling in love for the first time, you can identify,” Garner said of her new movie.

“Whatever you think of love and Valentine’s Day, your view is represented.”

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