Jennifer Anne Garner was born on April 17, 1972 in Houston, Texas to Bill & Pat Garner. Bill is a retired chemical engineer and Pat is a retired college English teacher. Her parents were always supportive of Jennifer and helped her to pursue her dreams. “My parents never said anything except, ‘Go for it.’” While growing up Jennifer studied ballet for six hours a day which helped teach her discipline that would help her later in life.
Jennifer is the middle daughter. She has always had a close relationship with her two sisters, Melissa (who is older) and Suzannah (who is younger). Even though Jennifer has said “We did have raging fights about [borrowing clothes] and using the phone”. You can tell that Jennifer really respects and admires her sisters. “My big sister Melissa, is such a stud and my little sister Suzannah, has always had a perfect body and big blue eyes. We were a force.” The family often has foreign exchange students in their home, so Jen often shared a room with her sister Melissa. Melissa was the class valedictorian and a champion majorette. Jennifer wanted to stand out so she took up the saxophone and joined the swim team.
Jennifer graduated from George Washington High School in the class of 1990 and went on to attend Denison University. She started college majoring in Chemistry. She later changed her major to drama when she realized that her passion for the stage outweighed her love of science. After graduating from Denison in 1994 she headed to New York City to pursue her career. When she first moved to NYC, she got a job being an understudy in a play earning $150 a week. “I would roll up pennies to take the subway to work in Times Square. I was broke, but I was happy.” It might not have been easy, but it was here that Jen scored her first television role as Melissa Gilbert’s daughter on the miniseries “Zoya” based on Danielle Steel’s book. The next few roles that Jennifer received were in two Hallmark Hall of Fame films, “Harvest of Fire” and “Rose Hill”. Jennifer did a few other feature films before landing her first role on a television series, “Significant Others”. The show started during mid-season and didn’t do well in its time slot and was quickly cancelled. “I loved this show. It was well written and I loved the guys. We had a blast. I was really bummed when it was cancelled.”
The next step in Jennifer’s life was to move to Los Angeles (following a boyfriend, which didn’t work out) where she got a job as a hostess at the restaurant Isabella’s. It was then that things started to change for Jen as she got a role on the WB series, “Felicity” as Hanna Bibb, the girlfriend of Noel played by Scott Foley. The role as Hanna Bibb helped Jennifer get some recognition, but it also helped her meet the man who would later become her husband.
“I was definitely attracted to him at first sight, but I didn’t realize I was going to marry him until a while in. It grew really gradually and sweetly, and it was a real courtship.” The couple started dating and a few months into the relationship they went to Paris together. A year into the relationship they bought a house together. When they had been dating for two years Scott proposed to Jennifer. Jen was shocked to say the least. “I knew we were going to marry someday, but I was absolutely surprised when he actually proposed. And surprised he had bought a ring. I ran around the yard screaming.” Six weeks later the couple married in a small backyard wedding on October 19, 2000.
Meanwhile, Jennifer’s career was moving along as she was cast as Romy the roommate to Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Sarah, on the spin-off series “The Time of Your Life”. Unfortunately, this series was cancelled also, due to low ratings. Jen next went on to star in a film as the frustrated girlfriend to Ashton Kutcher’s character in “Dude, Where’s My Car?” “It was so fun. We were just goofy. It’s amazing, no matter how full your resume is, this is the first credit people go to because everyone loves the title.” Jen was also cast in the Michael Bay film “Pearl Harbor” as the third lead for a female as Nurse Sandra, a kind of geeky and serious nurse. “I loved making this movie because you usually never work with a group of women, and I loved that we just had women together every day at work. Kate was so fun.”
The next step in the right direction was when J.J. Abrams, the producer of Felicity approached Jennifer with a new show that he was working on. He thought that Jennifer would be right for and encouraged her to audition. When she heard about the role on Alias, Jennifer decided to start taking Tae Kwon Do lessons. She pulled out yellow pages and found Master Yu and started taking lessons daily for an hour a day. She attended numerous auditions over the course of a month and was really excited to be able to show off her martial art skills at her last audition.
She got the part as Sydney Bristow, student by day, double agent the rest of the time. Jennifer does a lot of the stunts that Alias requires herself, unless as she puts it they are crazy, then she has a stunt double do them. But it took a while, “I did go overboard. We shot the scene where I was in the shower, and I was so bruised we had to cover my bruises with tattoo paint – they were just huge.” Unlike Jennifer’s past series, this one was a hit.
And to prove it, Jen won a Golden Globe in January of 2002. She wowed many people with her sincere acceptance speech, she thanked her mom & dad, her cast, and “Uh, I’ve often said to J.J Abrams, the creator of the show, I don’t know why you cast me in this role, I don’t know why you thought I could do it. I know I was good in Dude Where’s My Car, but seriously… I, I can’t thank you enough, for believing in me, and for fighting for me, and, and writing what you write. Um, and the most significant thing you did to change my life was introduce me to my husband, the most handsome date in the room…and a man who made me feel confident and beautiful long before I started walking like Sydney Bristow.”
Jennifer continued to grow in popularity with fans and filmmakers, as she took on roles in Steven Speilberg’s “Catch Me If You Can” opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and in the film “Daredevil” as assassin, Elektra opposite Ben Affleck and Colin Farrell. For her role as Elektra, Jennifer studied with martial arts choreographer, Cheung Yan Yang and trainer Don Lee. “I love this physical stuff which is why I wanted to do Daredevil because I wanted to learn what Daredevil could teach me.”
Unfortunately in March of 2003 Jen & Scott announced that they were separating. When asked why it didn’t work Jennifer explained, “Honestly, I just don’t have enough perspective on it yet … I think there are a million reasons why things don’t work. The thing is, everyone says that when you’re in Hollywood, you’re living in the fast lane, but that’s what it feels like — everything speeds up. If a (relationship) is not going to work 10 years from now, it feels like it’s accelerated to this frenzy and then, it’s not working — boom! And you’re like, ‘What just happened?’”
Jennifer’s next starred in her first romantic comedy, “13 Going on 30” opposite Mark Ruffalo. “It’s … the female version of “Big”. But it’s a movie with a lot of heart, and it should be funny.” With the role as Jenna, Jennifer proved that she could carry a film by herself and show her comedic side.
Jennifer’s next relationship was with her “Alias” co-star Michael Vartan whom she claimed at the time was her best friend. The couple dated for about a year when their split was announced.
Sometime in 2004, Jennifer started dating her “Daredevil” co-star, Ben Affleck. The couple kept their relationship private but Ben’s passion for baseball rubbed off on Jen (“I think that baseball games are like soap operas. If you watch five in a row, you know enough to get hooked.”) and the couple could be found attending Boston Red Sox baseball games in Ben’s hometown.
2005 was a busy year for Jennifer. The year started with her reprising the role of Elektra in the sequal to her film “Daredevil.” The biggest changes occured in her personal life. Jennifer married Ben Affleck on June 29,2005 in a private ceremony officiated by Victor Garber (her co-star on “Alias”) in the Caribbean. Jennifer described the event, “We were able to have a beautiful, private wedding, and I couldn’t be happier.”
During the summer they announced the news that they were expecting their first child at the end of the year. The couple kept tight lipped about the sex of the baby until Jen accidentally slipped during an interview with Jay Leno that the baby was a “she”. Violet Anne was born on December 1, 2005 at 3:26 p.m. and weighed 6 lbs. 14 oz.
2006 brought the end of Jen’s hit television series, “Alias”. During the last season Jen was unable to do a lot of her own stunts as she had done in the past due to her pregnancy, which was written into the story line. Leaving “Alias” brought mixed emotions for Jen. “Well, I was ready. Five years of something, I think we all felt exactly the way we were supposed to feel at the end of “Alias.” We were all heartbroken. You’ve never seen a closer cast or a group of crew. It really was the best place to work, and we all say that now when we see each other. So there was that loss but at the same time, we really felt like we had told the story. We didn’t know what else there was to tell. We felt like we had done it justice so it wasn’t like oh gosh, we wish this was going on another year but it was still, I still get emotional about it. J.J. just gave all of us for Christmas this huge leather bound book of pictures starting with the pilot. I can hardly even talk about it. I can’t look at it without crying because there are our lives, especially when the crew, he put some of the crew in there. And I miss them, I talk to them a lot.”
During the summer of 2006, Ben, Jennifer, & Violet lived in Boston as Ben directed the film “Gone, Baby, Gone”.
At the end of the year Jennifer returned to work and filmed the film “The Kingdom” opposite Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman. While filming in a desert in Arizona Jen suffered twice from heat stroke.
“The Kingdom” was released in 2007 along with another film she had shot prior to giving birth to her daughter, “Catch and Release”. The film took a while to get out to the public but Jen was so glad to be able to do it. “The first time I read it, I knew I had to do it. She asked me to do it. I was beyond excited and something happened where we had to wait a year. I just said, “I can’t let anyone else play this role. It’s my role. Please wait for me.”
In February of 2007 Jennifer started filming the film “Juno” where she plays opposite Jason Bateman as a woman who is unable to get pregnant and wants to adopt a baby. “It’s this wonderful script that I have been waiting for to come together for the past year and when Jason came onto it, I was so excited. I’m so excited they asked me to be in it and I have a small role. I’m only working a couple weeks and it’s just cool.”
In July Jennifer and her family moved to New York City so she could try something new in her career. Jennifer had landed the role of Roxane in “Cyrano de Bergerac” on Broadway. This was something Jen was excited to do and wanted to get right. “I’ve worked really hard at getting whatever chops back for the theater. I started working on my voice way back in L.A. I started working with a movement coach. I had a French teacher. Not all these things are perfect, but I’ve taken it incredibly seriously, and it’s with great humbleness—or humility—that I walk here with Kevin Kline, who seems to know what he’s doing, for real.” The show ran for 10 weeks starting on November 1, 2007 at the Richard Rodgers Theater. When the reviews hit they were positive! Critic for the New York Times Ben Brantley said, “Ms. Garner, I am pleased to report, makes Roxane a girl worth pining over.”
The first half of 2008 found Jen filming two new comedies. The first was “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” where she played opposite of Matthew McConaughey. When asked if it was fun to play a role that was back before kids and marriage and Jen responded, “The whole point of playing a role is it’s not really you. It was fun to go back and do a romantic comedy. You get to fall in love and it’s great. Nothin’ better.”
Next was “The Invention of Lying” where she played opposite of Ricky Gervais and Rob Lowe. This film is one which the characters can’t lie. “Oh, everything I say to Ricky is horrible. I just put him down all the time, it’s just horrific, but he wrote it.”
On January 6, 2009 Ben & Jennifer welcomed their second daughter Seraphina Rose Elizabeth Affleck.
In the summer Jen filmed her first film after the arrival of Seraphina, the ensemble comedy “Valentine’s Day” which was directed by Garry Marshall. The film stars Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Beil, Jamie Foxx and many others and centers around the holiday of love and romance. “What’s great about the way Garry [Marshall] uses L.A. in the film is that it’s just a city. It’s not celebrity central. It’s not about Hollywood. It’s a city and you never see it that way. You always see it as the backdrop for some other world and glitz and glamour. This reminds you that this is just a city full of people going through the same kinds of little triumphs and tragedies in their love lives as anyone anywhere else in the world.” The film was released to theaters in February 2010.
In the summer of 2010 Jennifer filmed her next film “Arthur” opposite Russell Brand & Helen Mirren. This role was a bit of a different role for Jennifer from what her fans are used to seeing her play. Arthur’s director Jason Winer talks about Jennifer playing Susan; “You have Jennifer Garner playing this villainous role, which is essentially against type for her, but finding, within it, some really human motivation. Having been spurned by Arthur, you can see the jealousy that egging her on. Also, there’s her desire for status, which comes from her blue collar upbringing. There is some hopefully complex motivation behind what could be considered a two-dimensional character, but is not, as rendered by Jennifer.”
This biography was written by Ali using information from interviews and articles.