Jennifer Garner’s original career plan was to find a city with a good regional theater, move there, become a member of its company, and have a family. Instead, Garner has gone on to star as heroine Sydney Bristow for five seasons on TV’s Alias, (earning her a Golden Globe and four Emmy Award nominations), appeared in such films as Catch Me If You Can, 13 Going on 30, and Elektra, and played Roxanne opposite Kevin Kline in Broadway’s Cyrano de Bergerac.
However, she got the family she wanted — and became half of a true Hollywood power couple — when she married actor/director Ben Affleck and subsequently had three children (Violet, Seraphina, and Samuel) with him.
In her new film, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Garner and Australian stage and screen star Joel Edgerton (who played Stanley to Cate Blanchett’s Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire) play a childless couple who bury all their wishes for a baby in a box in their backyard, and magically a 10-year-old child, Timothy, (C.J. Adams), is created overnight who changes the lives of everyone he meets. Garner talked to TheaterMania about the film, having more kids, and her desire to do a movie musical.
THEATERMANIA: The film is about how parents influence their children. How did your parents most influence you?
JENNIFER GARNER: My parents just let me be alone and dream. And they let me dance all the time. That’s all I did, was go to the dance studio and perform in community theater and the school band. They came to see everything. Meanwhile, my dad thought I was nuts. But he let me do it. They let me discover what I loved.
TM: How big of an influence was theater itself?
JG: Theater has always been my absolute dream of all dreams, and all this other stuff that I’ve done has been accidental. Growing up, my parents didn’t have a lot of extra money but somehow we always had enough money for theater. It was what we did as a family.
TM: This is the second time you’ve played a character dealing with infertility. Are you drawn to these roles because you’re so committed to being a parent yourself?
JG: I am so lucky in that department. If Ben was sitting here and he looked at me, we’d be on our way to number four – it is not an issue in our house! I have an incredible empathy for women in this position. All I have to do is think about what they go through and it brings me to tears. I have such respect for them. And I also think it’s true you can make a family in many ways; it doesn’t have to be traditional.
TM: Why was it important to represent the realities of motherhood in a film that is essentially a fantasy?
JG: I saw this movie for the first time sitting between my two best mom-friends. They cried from start to finish. They recognized themselves over and over again in a way that they normally don’t in films. They recognized themselves in such a realistic, respectful, non-judgmental way that it touched them.
TM: Do you have any concerns about this small, sweet film getting lost in a summer of blockbusters?
JG: I have this evangelical need to make people see this movie because there are no original stories left. You can’t just go to the movies for The Avengers; you have to see stories like this too.
TM: What other kinds of stories do you want to tell?
JG: I’d like to do a musical. A movie musical, preferably. That’s a tricky genre, isn’t it? When they work they’re kind of magical. Every time one works, I cheer.