Jennifer Garner celebrated her 37th birthday on April 17th by sitting down for a full day of press for “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” which opens Friday. A BOSTON HERALD feature ran Tuesday.
Just before I went into the suite, a nanny came by with a stroller and the newest addition to the family, bright-eyed two months old Seraphina Rose who was sucking on a pacifier. Garner, in a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, is the opposite of what you might imagine as high maintenance, very poised and low key. Like her husband Ben Affleck she has a sly sense of humor. Here is more from the one on one sitdown at L.A.’s Luxe Hotel.
QUESTION: I WONDER HOW YOU LOOK AT YOUR CAREER THESE DAYS IN TERMS OF BALANCING WORK WITH EVERYTHING ELSE? IT SEEMS TO BE THE QUESTION THAT MOTHERS ALWAYS GET ASKED, BUT NOT DADS.
GARNER: Although he does. He does and that is a choice that he makes. I respect him for it because it’s not asked of Dad’s. He feels like ‘I’ve worked really hard in my life. Now I want to be with my kids and I’m going to be.’ I love that about him. How do I balance it? Every working woman, whatever you are doing, you feel the tug somewhere else. Every woman really, I’ve been home for nine months straight. I loved every minute of it but there were also times I felt like ‘I cannot have the same conversation one more time. I cannot think about how I’m running out of Tupperware.’ Your brain really does feel like ‘I need some adult working kind of stimulation.’ It’s a difficult balance.
QUESTION: DO YOU SAY TO AGENTS OR MANAGERS ‘I NEED SIX MONTHS HERE?’?
GARNER: When I need time I realize I just get pregnant.
QUESTION: SO RIGHT AFTER YOU DID ‘CYRANO’ ON BROADWAY?
GARNER: Right after I did this movie.
QUESTION: YOU GOT PREGNANT AND TOOK YOUR TIME. I JUST SAW AND SHE IS GORGEOUS. SHE WAS IN THE HALLWAY WITH HER LITTLE THING. SHE WAS BLINKING A LITTLE BIT AND SHE’S JUST A BEAUTIFUL BABY.
GARNER: Thank you. Yeah, she’s pretty cute.
QUESTION: HOW IS THE SIBLING RIVALRY WITH VIOLET?
GARNER: No, there is no rivalry.
QUESTION: NOTHING LIKE ‘I’M GOING TO PUSH HER OVER.’?
GARNER: Oh my gosh, no.
QUESTION: SHE LOVES HER BABY SISTER?
GARNER: Just sweetness, yeah.
QUESTION: DO YOU LOOK AT THINGS AND SAY ‘I WANT TO DO THIS TYPE OF MOVIE RIGHT NOW. I WANT TO DO SOMETHING LIGHT AND FUN.’
GARNER: I just read what comes my way and pick things based on timing, family, how it’s all going to fit in. Also, just based on the quality of the script. Who is directing it? Who do I get to work with? Then we kind of try to make our lives fit around that.
QUESTION: I THOUGHT IT WAS A CLEVER IDEA TO TAKE THE DICKENS ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ AND TURN IT INTO SOMETHING ABOUT CASUAL SEX.
GARNER: That’s why I wanted to do it. The script was just different than your typical romantic comedy. I love romantic comedies. I love to watch them, I love to make them, and I love the whole thing about it. I love getting to fall in love. They are just a blast. But, I really like to do ones that ask a little bit more of you. I think this one does.
QUESTION: I THOUGHT YOU CHARACTER WAS SO IDENTIFIABLE BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO KNOW THAT SO AND SO IS NOT GOOD FOR THE RELATIONSHIP BUT THEY STILL CAN’T GET OVER IT. DON’T YOU THINK THAT IS HER ISSUE THERE?
GARNER: Oh, without a doubt. My girlfriends and I have talked each other through this many, many, many times. Yes. She has known this guy since he was a kid. She has this idea of what and who he can be. She can’t get that out of her mind even though he’s proving to her the opposite. His actions prove over, and over, and over to her that he’s a disaster of a guy. She feels like ‘No, there is more to him and I can do it, I can find it.’ When she finally lets that go and just thinks ‘I’ll move on with my life.’ He realizes he’s about to lose her and it’s not quite too late.
QUESTION: DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE ULTIMATE CHICK FLICK? IT REALLY COMES OUT SO STRONGLY IN FAVOR OF THE GIVE A GIRL A BREAK, BE RESPECTFUL, HAVE SOME IDEA OF COMMITMENT, DON’T CAT AROUND MENTALITY?
GARNER: There are very few men who are like Connor, Matthew’s [McConaughey] character.
QUESTION: THERE ARE? WE HOPE.
GARNER: Well, there are few that are that extreme. I think it’s a good blend of a chick flick that a guy can find something in because Matthew is so great in the roles. His character is also so identifiable. Guys kicking and screaming, usually partnership, companionship, family, love, those things do tend to win out in the end. It seems to me to be relatable for both.
QUESTION: I THINK THAT THE TITLE MADE ME THINK IT WAS GOING TO BE A MOVIE ABOUT HOW PAST RELATIONSHIPS CAN HAUNT YOUR PRESENT RELATIONSHIPS. BUT THAT’S NOT IT AT ALL. DO YOU THINK THAT IS AN ISSUE FOR PEOPLE WHEN THEY GET TOGETHER? HIS BROTHER’S WIFE FREAKS OUT AND CALLS OFF THE WEDDING BECAUSE SHE WASN’T REALLY A GIRLFRIEND.
GARNER: Right. A dalliance. Certainly that can happen. Usually it feels like the past relationships are kind of the education really. They help you learn as you are growing up and you have to go through that stuff. One hopes.
QUESTION: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT NEXT?
GARNER: The next thing coming out will be the movie that I did with Ricky Gervais called ‘The Invention of Lying’. [This Side of the Truth] that is really this kind of big idea in a little movie. It looks at the world and asks the question ‘What would the world look like if there was absolutely no artifice whatsoever and one person learned to lie?’ Ricky learns to lie and I’m the girl that he tries to get with his new talent.
QUESTION: AND THAT WAS THE FIRST THING YOU WENT BACK TO WORK ON AFTER THE BREAK?
GARNER: No, I did that right on the heels of this movie.
QUESTION: WHY DID YOU SAY YES TO THAT?
GARNER: Because I love Ricky Gervais. Because the script was really smart. Because it was small and I thought he would have the room as a writer director, which he did, to do what he wanted to do. I think if you trust your director it’s a great place to be. The cast just kept getting better, and better, and better. It was just something I really wanted to be a part of.
QUESTION: WHAT DID YOU GO BACK TO WORK FOR AFTER THE NINE MONTHS THEN?
GARNER: I haven’t gone back to work yet.
QUESTION: SO YOU ARE STILL LOOKING THEN?
GARNER: The next thing I will probably do is a movie that my production company is doing. It’s called ‘Butter.’ It’s also a small little movie about a woman who is taking over her husband’s role as the reigning butter carving champion.
QUESTION: IS IT BASED ON A BOOK OR SOMETHING?
GARNER: Nope. It’s this writer’s first script. He had a really brilliant and original voice. It’s kind of like Diablo Cody with ‘Juno’. I just fell totally and madly in love with it.
QUESTION: DO YOU THINK YOU WILL EVER GO BACK TO TV FOR A SERIES?
GARNER: I never say never. I had a great experience on television [WITH ‘ALIAS’]. I’m not a snob. I’m just happy to work. If it were something that fit into my life someday then yes I would. Right now it wouldn’t. I could never go back and work the kind of…
QUESTION: 16 HOUR DAYS?
GARNER: Yeah, I just couldn’t. It wouldn’t work for me.
QUESTION: IT WOULD HAVE TO BE A HALF HOUR SITCOM OR SOMETHING YOU WERE SHARING, AN ENSEMBLE?
GARNER: It’s so far from happening right now but I’m not a person to say never. ABC was great to me. My producing partner and I are going to be working on finding a couple of pilots for them. That is just such a good and natural relationship that I can’t imagine that not coming up at some point.
QUESTION: WHERE IS HOME NOW?
GARNER: Here in Los Angeles.
QUESTION: DO YOU GET BACK TO BOSTON VERY MUCH?
GARNER: We’re going on Tuesday and staying till Thanksgiving. So yes.
QUESTION: BECAUSE HE’S SHOOTING? HE’S DIRECTING HIS MOVIE FINALLY.
GARNER: Yes, he’s acting in a film there and then directing and acting in his film. We’ll be there for all of baseball season.
QUESTION: BEFORE THIS INTERVIEW I WENT ON THE INTERNET AND WROTE ‘JENNIFER GARNER’S CHILDREN’ AND ALL THESE FAN SITES CAME UP. HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE PUBLIC CURIOSITY OR ATTENTION?
GARNER: We try not to pay attention to it because it’s too upsetting. That is one thing we love about being in Boston. Our privacy has always been respected there. I don’t even know how to speak to that because it’s something we struggle with a lot. We wish we had some help in it legally. That there were some kind of protection for minors and there just isn’t. We adapt as best we can and we just go through it.
QUESTION: SINCE ‘ELEKTRA’ HAVE YOU WORKED TOGETHER?
QUESTION: AND YOU NEVER PLAN TO DO THAT? YOU WON’T MAKE A CAMEO IN HIS MOVIE?
GARNER: I don’t think so.
QUESTION: WOULD YOU WANT HIM TO DIRECT YOU?
GARNER: Yeah, I would love for him to direct me in something. But we will not play opposite each other again.
QUESTION: WHAT ABOUT YOU AS A DIRECTOR? ANY AMBITIONS?
GARNER: The hours are too hard to direct and have little kids right now for me. I do like directing. I do sometimes feel a little bit of an itch to be in charge. I will just be in charge of my house. I’ll boss all of them around.
QUESTION: MAYBE WHEN THEY ARE 12 OR 15?
GARNER: Sure. You never know. I’m totally content and happy to have one director in the house right now. He’s really good at it.