On Motherhood, Marriage, and Movies
Author/Credits: Jan Janssen / The Interview Feed
"I want to be ambitious, but I have to balance that against my responsibilities as a mom and that I find it tough to leave my kids to work on a film."
She might just be America's sweetheart. Jennifer Garner has put her career on the backburner ever since she married Ben Affleck and devoted herself to raising their family. Both of them found a measure of happiness together that they had never enjoyed before, and Garner has never had any regrets about prioritizing domestic bliss over movie stardom.
|Jennifer Garner, actress and wife of Ben Affleck, has recently returned to the limelight after a hiatus to look after her children.|
"Life is good, but having been at home with the kids for some time now, I’ve realized that I still need to work," Garner explains. "I want to be ambitious, but I have to balance that against my responsibilities as a mom and that I find it tough to leave my kids to work on a film. Over the years I’ve become more relaxed as a mother, even though it’s still chaos raising three children!"
Garner and her actor/director husband Ben Affleck live in Los Angeles with their three children: Violet, Seraphina, and baby Samuel. In the interview, Jennifer opens up about motherhood, marriage, and movies.
Question (Q): Is it some kind of confidence and security as a mother that made you decide that you could make movies again and still be a good mother?
Jennifer Garner (JG): There’s a lot of truth to that. Every mother worries about going back to work because you come to love being with your child or children so much. You love being in mama land. When it comes to choosing projects now, I kind of take it one thing at a time, although I really have to love something to make me leave the house. I’m still ambitious, but in a different way from earlier in my career.
Q: Is your career less urgent now?
JG: It was that way when I started raising our family, but then I slowly saw that I wanted my old job back because it still means a lot to me creatively and in sense of personal fulfillment. I value acting more now than I did in my twenties because I see how much I miss it. I do need this job although it's got to be something I feel very strongly about in order to leave my kids and go off for three months to do it. And my partner's pretty busy, so we can't all just get up and go. But I know that when the right project comes along, I’ll be ready to do it.
Q: Does Ben have any preference?
JG: Ben is totally supportive of me and he wants me to be happy just as I would do anything for him. He also would like to have another child, although I’m not so sure about that! (Laughs)
Q: You’ve tended to work in more light-hearted fare like Arthur and Valentine’s Day over the last few years as opposed to an action film like The Kingdom or your TV work on Alias. Is that your preference now?
JG: Not really. I‘d like to do an action movie or something where I shock myself a little bit. I was just visiting my husband’s set in Puerto Rico, and it's a lot of the same camera guys as on The Kingdom. As soon as they saw me, they were like (imitating a tough guy voice) "Hey Jen! What's up! Remember that fight scene you did?" And I felt like I was a different person from the one they were talking about. And I thought, "I kind of need to do something like that for myself."
Q: When you were a child growing up in Charleston, West Virginia, was acting something you dreamed about?
JG: No. That came later. I would have told you something different in terms of my career ambitions every day during high school, but acting was never one of them. I started out as girl doing ballet, and I knew that performing was something that I loved. In my little town there wasn’t much less in the way of the arts other than ballet and community theatre and the same woman ran both and still does I loved to perform, and I loved to be backstage. And I still do. I played saxophone in the high school marching band, but I was anything but the cool kid in school. A lot of kids teased me and I felt like an outsider a lot of the time. I guess I was a bit nerdy.
Q: So when did the acting bug bite?
JG: It happened in university where I was a chemistry major. I saw that there was an acting class being offered, and I decided it might be fun to try that. I would end up loving it, and then I guess I was hooked. So I switched to a theatre degree and even though that probably shocked my parents, they still supported me because they knew that I had developed this passion for acting and that performing had always been something that I enjoyed. Then I started working for free in theatres during the summer, and I eventually moved to New York to try to become a theatre actress. Even when I moved to L.A., it was never my goal to become a film star or anything like that. I just wanted to get enough recognition so that I could eventually go back to the New York theatre scene. It's funny how things have worked out!
Q: You mentioned being present for your children. Do you have any special moments with your children where you feel that way?
JG: I love playing with them and trying to encourage them. There’s so much joy you get from watching them smile and be in their own little world. That’s the beauty and innocence of childhood, and you learn to cherish those moments because they’re so pure.
Q: What's one of your favorite things you like to do for your kids?
JG: Every week I make bread for my kids. I make them each a little man out of bread dough so they can have it fresh out of the oven and tear it apart. My mom says she only did that a few times when I was growing up, but you want to bring the same warmth in your own house if you're lucky enough to come from a house that was filled with warmth like mine.
Q: Have you and Ben had to do a fair amount of planning to make sure you don’t book films that overlap your respective schedules?
JG: It’s a lot to juggle sometimes, but we manage alright. Ben took a break from his work to come to Atlanta, and be Mr. Mom to Violet and Seraphina, so that I could do this film. And I was home when Ben was working on Argo (a film about the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran when six Americans hid in the Canadian embassy). The hardest part is how much we miss each other while we’re working, and we never try to stay apart for very long. We’ll always visit each other on the set whenever we can — unless he’s shooting in the jungle or something! (Laughs) HBM
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