America’s most relatable celebrity mom, Jennifer Garner, has just made an unremarkable solo entrance at her favorite watering hole, Tavern, where she recently shared an anniversary dinner with her husband, Ben Affleck.
She waves from the hostess stand, slides into her seat and orders a skim latte. Her brown eyes aren’t glazed, but they should be: Baby Samuel, 5 months, issued a 3 a.m. wake-up call last night.
“I’m seven hours into my day, but it’s looking up,” she says in her characteristically upbeat tone.
In “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” which was released Wednesday, she plays Cindy Green, one half of a childless couple who has run out of ways to conceive. At wit’s end, she and her husband, Jim (Joel Edgerton), split a bottle of wine and dream up attributes (“Picasso with a pencil”) of the perfect child they’ll never have. Overnight, the Greens are magically gifted with 10-year-old Timothy (CJ Adams), who embodies all of their handwritten notes.
The magic sprinkled over breakfast today is a result of Garner’s resplendent candor.
Makeup free, Garner, 40, credits her cute black dress to a stop at her longtime stylist, Rachel Zoe. She smiles wryly at the mention of her much-touted relatability quotient.
“It’s because I always look like I’m wearing the first thing I could find, which is the truth,” she says. “I don’t understand how you can make breakfast, feed a baby, get hair braided, get a lunch put together and get an outfit on. And I don’t have that gift anyway, to just put something on and have it look good. I just wasn’t born that way.”
“Jen’s just such a regular girl,” says Edgerton, extolling her “kindness” and “uncomplicatedness.”
“Everything you feel about her on-screen in this movie or in ‘Juno’ – that’s just her nature.”
“I’ve never met an actor who cares more about each member of the crew, who’s more thoughtful in the gifts she gives,” says director Peter Hedges (“Dan in Real Life”). He wanted to instill the journey of being a parent in the film, which warns to be careful what you wish for. In “Timothy Green,” Hedges says, Garner is “Lucille Ball-funny, but then she comes around and breaks your heart.”
As a new parent to Timothy, who arrives under a cloak of E.T.-like magic, curiously caked in garden dirt with green leaves sprouting from his ankles, Garner’s character becomes a helicopter mom, smothering and worrying constantly.
“She’s willing to go to those places that are certainly unflattering and extreme,” Hedges says.
Garner recognized the universality in Cindy Green and fought to play her.
“I also floundered so much in the beginning,” she says, recalling watching her and Affleck’s lives change with the birth of their first daughter, Violet, now 6, and “falling in love again” with Seraphina, now 3.
“Now,” she says, sharing a photo of her chubby-cheeked, blue-eyed baby boy, “I just have crazy, crazy baby love.” Adding a boy to the family, so far, hasn’t changed much, according to Garner. “My husband says that I’m different with him, but I think I’ve always been crazy about babies. But he thinks that. What does he know?” she jokes.
Garner and Affleck, 39, have a his-and-hers October in store; “Butter,” Garner’s off-center comedy about an acid-tongued butter carver’s wife, will be released a week before Affleck’s newest directorial effort, “Argo.” The couple regularly screens the other’s work.
“I’ve seen [‘Argo’] 15 times,” Garner says. “Every cut.”
Married seven years, both have “gotten better at it,” she says. “It’s really fun. I probably am up in his grill less about stuff. I don’t think I’m a particularly controlling person, but I probably work less to make things fit a mold in my head. And he exceeds my expectations anyway.”
It has been tough for Garner to decide on a next role. “I definitely get pickier with every baby,” she says. “But I do still want to work.”