The Genuine Article

by Evan Jameson | Jan 4, 2024
The Genuine Article
Amongst the obvious glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Jennifer Garner shines with a distinct warmth that transcends the screen.

Known for her congeniality, and a brand of approachable charm that feels both aspirational and familiar, Garner embodies the rare breed of celebrity who exudes a wholesome blend of star power and grounded authenticity.

Off screen, she navigates the multi-faceted role of a mother with the same grace and dedication she brings to her on-camera performances.

Her children Violet, now 17, Seraphina, 13, and 11-year-old Samuel—from Garner’s previous marriage to fellow actor Ben Affleck—are the pivot around which her current family life revolves, grounding her in a reality that is relatable to so many.

The 51-year-old’s latest cinematic venture, Family Switch, sees her partnering with the comedic acumen of Ed Helms. The Netflix film, which draws inspiration from Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s 2010 whimsical children’s tale Bedtime For Mommy, promises a delightful role reversal that taps into the heart of family dynamics.

Here, the narrative stitches together laughter with tender introspection, a space where Garner has repeatedly proven herself to be a natural fit.

It’s a movie that is poised to add another dimension to Garner’s already robust repertoire, offering audiences a glimpse into the everyday enchantments and chaos of parenthood—a theme as timeless as Garner’s appeal.

We spoke with Garner about the film, what it’s like raising children in the spotlight, and the high-profile role she is returning to in 2024.

 

Is it right to say that Family Switch should be familiar territory for you personally after being in the 2004 film, 13 Going On 30?

Yeah, I suppose you could say that. The director McG did say that he would be channelling 13 Going On 30, and obviously that was very helpful for me to go back to that project.

We’ve aimed for a film that’s delightfully unexpected, with a brightness and a smartness that may catch you off guard. It’s nice to be in films that blend elements for all ages—simple enough for a child to follow the storyline with joy, yet layered with complexity so that an adult can appreciate the nuances on a more intricate level.

You’ve got to try and appeal to the variety of people who want to watch movies, and I hope we have with this.

 

Just as a light-hearted thing, have you ever thought of what Jenna Rink, your character from 13 Going On 30, would be up to now?

She would certainly retain that playful spirit. It’s essential that she carries a spark of her 13-year-old self within her essence. But, oh my, revisiting this film is a must for me—it’s such a delightful adventure.

I find myself wondering about the narrative’s progression. Does Poise continue to flourish in this digital age? Has it shifted entirely to the digital realm? There’s a whole spectrum of possibilities to explore regarding what’s unfolded since we last saw her.

 

Does that mean we get the possibility of 30 Going On 50?

Err… let’s see what happens there! [Laughs].

 

You took time off to have your third child Samuel over a decade ago. Now that you’re re-established, is there a sense in you that makes you think you need to work constantly?

[M]y heart remains where it always was—with my children. The fulfilment I derive from being a mother doesn’t compare to the ambitions I had before in my acting career.

Don’t get me wrong—I love acting and deeply value the collaborative and creative process on set. However, sometimes in your life your priorities change, and I get my greatest joy and contentment from time spent with my children. Our home is truly where my heart is the happiest.

 

Has it become more challenging for you to decide to work more often, considering the time commitment required for your three children?

It’s a complex decision and being a single mom doesn’t make it any easier. It’s not solely about the time commitment; it’s also about the routine we’ve established.

My children are accustomed to having me around consistently, so my absence during work can feel unsettling for them. Thankfully, our mothers have stepped in to support us, which is a huge help.

I do cherish the everyday moments, like preparing their lunches or baking cookies for their afternoons. Missing out on these small daily rituals is hard when I’m on set and it weighs on my decision to accept work.

However, I’ve recently found joy in returning to acting, recognizing the importance of fulfilling my creative desires. It’s a common thread for many women balancing motherhood and career; even if a perfect equilibrium seems elusive.

 

You’ve said you don’t like giving the impression that you want to be leading a female movement in the movie industry. However, you’ve always been very vocal about the empowerment of women in films. Do you still feel the same?

Absolutely, my stance on the empowerment of women in film remains unwavering. While I may not see myself as the spearhead of a movement, I believe in advocating for women’s voices and stories on screen.

It’s crucial that we foster an industry that reflects the world’s diversity and offers rich, multifaceted roles for women. My focus has always been on contributing to this change through the choices I make and the projects I take on.

It’s about lifting each other up, ensuring equal opportunities and being a part of the collective effort to inspire and enact progress.

 

You’ve played a lot of matriarchal roles in your career. Is that another thing that is important to you?

Portraying motherhood on screen has become increasingly significant to me. My personal journey of raising three children, coupled with engaging with numerous mothers through my advocacy with Save the Children, has been important.

I wouldn’t say I make a beeline just for those types of projects, but maybe there is a natural momentum in that way.

 

Do you think society is facing a new kind of problem in terms of parenting when it comes to social media, and the various elements within it that can have a harmful effect on children?

The landscape of parenting is undoubtedly evolving with the advent of social media and the array of technological advancements that come with it—and it’s scary how quick everything is.

I think that as a society, we are all collectively navigating uncharted waters, trying to establish norms and guidelines that feel appropriate and safe for our children, but sometimes even for ourselves.

The pace [at which] technology changes means that often, as parents, we feel like we’re constantly playing catch-up, trying to stay abreast of the latest apps and platforms that our kids might be exposed to. It’s a bit of a learning curve, even for us ‘silly adults,’ as we sometimes feel a step behind [laughs].

I’m personally relieved that my own children seem to have a good grasp on things and that’s all I can ask for right now.

 

Do you still feel anxiety with the fact that your children have very famous parents and the negative things that come with that?

Certainly, the reality of my children growing up with high-profile parents weighs heavily on my mind. We’ve frequently found ourselves in the uncomfortable position of being pursued by a convoy of SUVs, hounded by swarms of paparazzi and even approached by fans who, at times, have their own kids in tow.

It’s disconcerting at times, and I know they’re being introduced to a world that’s starkly different from my own childhood experiences. My early years were characterized by a nurturing and serene environment. We were very much community-centric, where everyone looked out for one another, but there was a lot of privacy also.

That’s not what I’ve passed on to my children, yet every parent will always be astonished at the resilience of kids, and very often it is the elders who are more worried and impacted by events, than the kids themselves.

 

You’ve talked in the past about being a strong and, at times, stern parent. Does that follow on from your parents’ approach to discipline?

[Laughs] There were times when my sisters and I jokingly felt we were like an Amish family. Obviously, that’s a bit of a stretch, but there were certain rules—no makeup, no bikinis at the beach, and no late-night partying.

Despite their strict rules, the underlying theme of my childhood was the love and support we received from our parents. They created a very safe and loving home, and that’s all I’ve looked to recreate.

 

Is there anything you handle differently with your own children?

One thing I make a point of doing is actively playing with my children. My mother, while wonderful in every way, didn’t really engage in playtime with us; perhaps she didn’t have the time or the energy.

So, I have often found myself on the floor with my kids, playing with dolls and whatnot. I absolutely love it—it’s great fun!

 

In 2024, you will reprise your role as the sai-wielding Elektra for Deadpool 3. How exciting is that?

Jumping back into my role from two decades ago is pretty wild, right? It’s like a blast from the past but with a twist.

I’ve changed a lot and so has my character. I’m stoked to mix the old-school vibes with who I am now. It’s going to be a fun ride and I’m super curious to see what the fans think about the grown-up version of her!


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Author: Evan Jameson

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