Jennifer Garner plays a capologist, or a salary cap executive, for the Cleveland Browns in director Ivan Reitman’s “Draft Day.” So, in our recent chat, the talk veered toward who the capologist is in the home she shares with actor-director Ben Affleck and their three kids.
“I’m very much the CEO of our household, for sure,” quipped the actress, radiant in an Alexander McQueen dress and Christian Louboutin pumps. “I was just laughing to myself today, thinking, ‘I need to leave a check for this person and a check for that person.’ I thought, Ben doesn’t know how much that person gets paid. He wouldn’t know what their last names are. It’s my job. Maybe we’re traditional in that way.
“There are those of us in our family who are willing to be salary captain,” she said with a smile.
Ali, Jennifer’s capologist in “Draft Day,” is the girlfriend of the Cleveland Browns’ general manager Sonny Weaver Jr., played by Kevin Costner, who has the chance to rebuild the team when he trades for the top pick at the NFL Draft. Frank Langella, Terry Crews, Chadwick Boseman, Arian Foster, Sean Combs and Rosanna Arquette also star in this drama.
Jennifer, who shadowed Megan Rogers, the Cleveland Browns’ capologist, said, “Now, I’m really aware of how much goes into that job. Women are so good at it because it takes a real multitasking brain. You have to think about where you are in the season, know all of the business affairs stuff, the art of football. In that way, you’re kind of a CEO.”
While Jennifer is the CEO of the Affleck-Garner household, she said, “But when Ben is not working and he’s home for a while, he can really get his fingers into my pie. Right now, I’m ready for him to start a job because he walks around the house and says [about a furniture piece], ‘Ah, I’m tired of this. Let’s get this.’ He’s got a little bit of a decorating bug.”
Soon to change
That will change soon because Ben is set to start playing the Caped Crusader in Zack Snyder’s yet-untitled Superman-Batman movie. Jennifer has seen her husband in the Batsuit. “It’s fabulous,” she said. “You’re going to love it. The man looks good.”
If she’s the CEO, what’s Ben’s title? “He has every title from class clown to the ultimate word on things,” Jennifer replied. “He’s the beloved father figure. When I told them I was going to work (doing interviews) today, they all went, ‘Aaagh!’ Then I said, ‘But you’re spending the day with your dad.’ They were so excited to have the day with him because he’s different, fun, crazy. He’s a fabulous father.”
According to this CEO, her other duties include, “getting up and making breakfast. I pack lunches and think through my head about what we have in the refrigerator and what I’m going to get at the farmers’ market to make for dinner. There’s nothing to it. It’s about logistics and schedule.”
As an example, she explained that, if on a certain day she has a meeting and one of her kids has a karate class, “I’d better take her clothes with me and a snack for her before I go to my meeting because I’ll have to pick her up straight from school. It’s all that boring nonsense that keeps me up at night.”
With their busy career schedules and children to take care of, Jennifer admitted that she and Ben have to devise ways to see more of each other. “There are definitely times when our time together takes a hit. Like the first year that we had our third child. Luckily for me, he had ‘Argo’ coming out that year. So as busy as he was—that was a time when he had to travel a lot—he said, ‘I need you to come with me.’ So my breast pump and I went all over the world with him.
“I might have come home a day early but we did those trips together. There’s always a way. He will always be my top priority. I will make sure that I’m his. But it’s hard. It’s tricky to make sure there’s enough time for things to be mellow and calm.”
She clarified, “But we don’t work all the time. I had just taken a couple of years off.”
Sometimes the two find time for a quick romantic getaway, even for just a night. She cited a recent one: “We picked up the kids from school, took them home and then we went to Santa Barbara (California) for the night. We had dinner there. We woke up the next morning, walked around, had breakfast. We were home in time to put the baby down for his nap.”
Jennifer said of her marriage to Ben (they wed in June 2005): “We talk about it because we’ve been together for almost 10 years. You’re trying to be a healthy family and a healthy couple. We talk about it, we work on it.”
Is she as patient as her character is with Kevin’s Sonny? “I am ever so patient,” she stressed with a grin. “I am as patient as she (her character) is. Trust me, I am that, times 10.”
Beer and baseball
Ben finds time to bond with his best buddy, fellow Bostonian and neighbor, Matt Damon, especially when there’s a Red Sox game on TV, according to Jennifer. “Yes, they’re definitely on if the guys are home. If Matt is in residence and Ben is in residence, they are together. They’re watching. There’s beer—unless one of them is getting ready for a role. Then it’s Diet Coke.”
Was Jennifer nervous when she first met Christine, Ben’s mom, whom he is very close to? “Yes, I was because I knew that she was everything to Ben,” Jennifer answered. Christine was a freedom rider in the 1960s. “She’s a tough lady, super smart, Harvard educated, a public school teacher for 35 years. She has her ideas of the way the world should look. She does her best to be part of those ideas, looking that way. She’s a stud. So was I nervous? Yes, I was, but she’s been nothing but sweet to me.”
Jennifer added, “Whenever I think about mothers-in-law or when somebody makes a joke about one, I have to stop and give a little moment of thanks for Chris Affleck. I had this ‘Save the Children’ trip in West Virginia. I said, ‘Will you come with me? I want a trip with just you.’ She dropped what she was doing; the two of us went and stayed at my parents’ house. I said, ‘Look at the three of you together.’ I just felt so lucky.
“She makes everything easy. She’s gold; you cannot compare Chris Affleck with the character played by Ellen (Burstyn) [in ‘Draft Day’]. Ellen’s character is a force, terrifying and ready to eviscerate her son’s little girlfriend.”
Victory over paparazzi
Jennifer, along with Halle Berry, Kristen Bell and other celebrities claimed victory when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that imposes massive fines and jail time to paparazzi who alarm, annoy, torment or terrorize celebs’ kids. By coincidence, Halle was also at the Four Seasons Hotel during this interview. “I’m hunting Halle down after this [interview] to give her a kiss because we owe so much freedom to her. She took on something that we had really begun to believe was an impossible fight. She just made it happen. She let me be a small part of it. I’m forever grateful to her.”
“My kids think I had something to do with it. But it was really Halle and Kristen. By just forcing the magazines and other outlets to take a look at themselves and say, ‘Is this really what you want to be putting out, encouraging this kind of behavior from the paparazzi?’ Things have changed and our kids’ lives are better for it.”