‘Tribes of Palos Verdes’: Jennifer Garner on Character’s Mental Illness

The actress, who also served as an executive producer on the IFC Films title, spoke to THR about the importance of telling women’s stories.

The Tribes of Palos Verdes is a family drama told through the perspective of Maika Monroe’s 16-year-old daughter Medina, who turns to surfing amid her parents splitting up and her tumultuous relationship with her mother (Jennifer Garner), finding comfort and inner strength in the waves. But Medina is just one of Tribes of Palos Verdes’ forceful women.

The independent movie, which IFC Films is releasing in New York and on VOD and iTunes today (Dec. 1), features a powerful, emotional performance from Garner as Sandy Mason, a mom with an undiagnosed mental illness who becomes withdrawn and erratic as her husband (Justin Kirk) leaves her for another woman and Sandy’s left to take care of Medina and twin brother Jim (Cody Fern).

Garner, who also served as an executive producer on the film, tells The Hollywood Reporter that producer Robbie Brenner, with whom she’d worked on Dallas Buyers Club, pushed her to take on the role.

“I loved the adaptation,” Garner said of Karen Croner’s screenplay based on Joy Nicholson’s best-selling novel. “I loved the story. I loved the character. And then after years of talking to directors, being onboard, being offboard, finally [directors] Brendan and Emmett [Malloy] were part of the picture. And I was on the phone with Robbie, during a time when I was not connecting to the movie, and she just said, ‘I am really sick of this, and I just want you to do it. And I just want you to say right now that you’ll do it. And I’m gonna give you a start date, and let’s make it happen.’ And I said, ‘OK’ because she asked it like that.”

As for developing the character, Garner and the Malloys relied on multiple resources, figuring out the various factors that could influence Sandy’s behavior.

“She is so all over the place and there’s even more of it in the book where we had to say, ‘OK, what things about Sandy’s character that exist in the book don’t really serve this story of a family and what we can we lose and what do we need to play up.’ We all spoke to various therapists and compared notes about what the root of her mental illness could be. We talked to people about how the gaslighting from her husband could make her crazy,” Garner explains. “And then it was just making sure that we found a performance between the three of those things that the guys could modulate when they were editing because every scene could be just jumping off of a cliff, and we really had to play it so that we could go there over and over and over again and inure people to what was really happening with this family.”

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Jennifer Garner on Emotional New Role

While at the Hampton’s International Film Festival Jennifer spoke with Entertainment Tonight about her new film The Tribes of Palos Verdes and about putting herself into her characters.

Jennifer Garner gave her latest movie her all.

The 45-year-old actress plays a woman betrayed by her husband in her new film, The Tribes of Palos Verdes, which she also executive produced.

“It was just really exciting getting to be a part of getting this movie made,” Garner told ET at the Hamptons International Film Festival on Friday. “It’s one of those tiny little movies that’s an engine that could.”

While Garner had no trouble fitting into her role as producer, she says her part as a single mom in the movie was “its own bear to get through.”

“Anytime that you’re playing someone who is going through something, you have to just figure it out, and you actually — believe it or not — don’t use your own life as much as you might think,” said the actress, who filed for divorce from husband Ben Affleck in April. “It really is its own bear to get through.”

“You just get into that place. That’s your job, and then you shake it off, because you have to go home and raise your kids,” she explained. “It’s just like any other time I do a scene with an emotional place.”

Garner may have played down the effort she put into the film’s heartbreaking scene where her character finds out her husband is cheating on her, but director Emmett Malloy told ET that she really “went for it.”

“That scene in particular, I know that Jennifer said that she popped a blood vessel. So that kind of sums it up,” he revealed. “She just joined the crew and was really with it, and didn’t have a trailer and just sat there every day in that house and did scene after scene.”

Lately, Garner has been channeling her energy into fitness — but despite fans’ hopes, it’s not for an Alias reboot.

“They’ll have to get to J.J. [Abrams] for that,” Garner teased. “I’m getting ready to do an action film. It’s called Peppermint, and it’s a movie that I really love the story and the script and I’ll start it next month.”

The Tribes of Palos Verdes opens in select theaters and on VOD platforms nationwide on Dec. 1.

Jennifer Garner, Maika Monroe, Tye Sheridan to Star in ‘Tribes of Palos Verdes’

Jennifer Garner has signed on to star in The Tribes of Palos Verdes, the adaptation of Joy Nicholson’s young adult novel that’s just been set up at Relativity.

Garner is attached to the project, while two buzzy rising stars, Maika Monroe (The Guest, Labor Day) and Tye Sheridan (Joe, Mud), are in final negotiations to star.

D.J. Caruso (I Am Number Four) is directing the film, which is set in the affluent beach community of Palos Verdes, Calif. The story, based on Nicholson’s 1998 debut novel, centers on two teenagers, Medina (Monroe) and Jim (Sheridan) who move to the beach town from Michigan with their parents. Their mother (Garner) teeters on the brink of a nervous breakdown while their father becomes a surgeon to the stars. Medina turns to surfing to escape her troubled home life.

Karen Croner (Admission, One True Thing) wrote the screenplay for the film, which is slated to go into production in February 2015. Robbie Brenner and Kevin McKeon will oversee the film on behalf of Relativity. While details are still being worked out, it’s likely that the project could be for Relativity’s new specialty division, R2 (R squared). As The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reported, Relativity is launching a new division in hopes of becoming a more prominent awards season contender.

Garner’s recent work includes Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Men, Women & Children and Dallas Buyers Club. She’s wrapped work on Dan Fogelman’s Danny Collins opposite Al Pacino. She’s repped by WME, Management 360 and Sloane, Offer.

Source: THR