It still amuses actress Jennifer Garner to hear that her visits home to Charleston cause a stir. The Hollywood star snickers slightly at the mention of being the subject of Facebook updates and tweets while she was in Charleston recently.
The actress, who was calling from her seat in the back of a car on her way to do press for her new film, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” hadn’t heard.
“I don’t use them,” she said, referring to Facebook and Twitter. “I do think Facebook is a great way to get in touch with old friends, but I prefer to just come home and see my friends when I see them.”
Garner was home a few weeks ago. She returned to Charleston to speak at the Southern Leadership Conference on behalf of Save The Children, a children’s rights advocacy group. Garner is an artist ambassador for the organization.
She said she was originally only going to be in town for a couple of days but managed to stretch out the time to nine days, long enough to convince her parents to come along with her to the premiere of “Timothy Green,” which is in theaters now.
Garner told them to bite the bullet, hop a flight, brave the human wall of paparazzi and come see it with her.
She said, “I told them, if there’s a premiere, if there’s ever something [of mine] you’re going to go to again, this is it!”
And really, there couldn’t be a better film for her to take her parents to. Over her career, Garner has been in a couple of movies that might have been a little awkward for Mom and Dad. She played a prostitute in “Catch Me if You Can,” the comic book super villain Elektra in “Daredevil,” and her character in “Arthur” was pretty unpleasant.
Her turn as Laura Pickler in the upcoming dark comedy “Butter” (which she also produced) may again find her taking on a quirky, but not entirely likable character.
However, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is solid family fare. It’s a light, magical comedy about an infertile couple (Garner and Joel Edgerton) who bury a box of wishes for a child in their backyard and wind up with a 10-year-old boy on their doorstep.
The film is light on the movie magic, but heavy on human emotion.
“It’s not a big FX film,” Garner said. “It feels to me like an old-fashioned Disney film.”
Garner said the film, co-written and directed by Peter Hedges (“Dan in Real Life,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”), follows several relationships in the film, which change as a child enters their lives. How he gets there is fantastical, but the result isn’t.
“Everyone should recognize themselves somewhere in the movie,” she said.
Garner, with three children of her own, is the furthest thing from childless, but she said she understood her character from the perspective of a first time mother.
“As a parent, I couldn’t help but relate to her nervous energy, her first time out of a box and how she wanted to everything to go right and make sure her child was happy all the time and treated well by everyone else — and that’s not realistic, of course.
“You learn that pretty quickly, but a lot of the time you have to go through it to learn it.”
The film, she believed, has a broad family appeal. Kids are supposed to think it’s really a movie for them, and parents are supposed to think it’s really a movie for them. Either way, she said, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is supposed to be for everybody. It’s a family film about families, regardless of how the family is put together.
Garner said, “I didn’t think the movie was trying to make a huge statement about adoption or foster care, but maybe it is. It’s definitely pro-adoption, pro-foster care. It’s definitely pro-making-a-family-however-you-can.”