[IMG:L]Jennifer Garner is a mutli-talented actress. On the big screen, she can do a bubbly comedy (13 Going on 30) or a heartfelt drama (Catch and Release). But the former star of ABC's Alias returns to some serious ass-kicking in The Kingdom.
In the actioner, Garner plays the only female member of an FBI team investigating a bombing on a U.S. embassy base in Saudi Arabia. And they don't like Americans treading on their soil--let alone women. When it comes to a head, Garner takes on a terrorist mano a mano in a fight that would make Sidney Bristow cringe.
Garner herself remains in top form as she talks to Hollywood.com about her latest brutal performance, as well as happier subjects: her family and her upcoming Broadway debut.
Hollywood.com: You’ve done a lot of amazing fight work in the past, but this looks like the most brutal you’ve ever done! Did you want to step it up a notch?
Jennifer Garner: To be honest, I thought it wasn’t going to be much of anything. I kept saying to my stunt double Shauna Duggins, who I’ve worked with for six years, "When are we going to have rehearsal for this fight scene?" We go in 110 percent prepared. I could still do the fights from Daredevil in my sleep and a bunch of the Alias ones. I kept saying, "Where are we going to rehearse? I’m getting nervous. Isn’t there a fight?" And she kept saying to me, "We don’t need to rehearse." That day, I showed up and her eyes were this big and her hair was out to here. She had just learned the fight and she said, "This is unlike anything we’ve ever, ever done. Get ready. We’re just going to try to beat the sh*t out of each other." Which is so Pete Berg.
HW: So it was more down and dirty and less choreographed...
JG: It was so down and dirty that we had scratch marks we had to cover up on my face for the next few days. He tried to grab me and pull my face off. He had a scab on his ear because I bit his ear and I just yanked and got his ear and went, "Yuck." It was nasty. It was great.
HW: Does your husband Ben Affleck know not to sass you, since he sees all the fighting you do in movies?
JG: I wish he felt that way about real life. He was visiting the set the day that I shot this fight scene and I thought it would have made him a little bit nervous to see [the other actor] chucking me against the wall harder and harder with every take. He was a little too calm about it. I thought he could have been a little bit more [protective.] "My wife! You’d better be careful with her!" He was just like, "Go! Go for it, babe! Harder!"
[IMG:R]HW: Now that you're a mother, are you any more hesitant to do dangerous stunts?
JG: I don’t take or not take a role based on the physicality. If Shauna says something is safe, I’m going to do it. I’m not going to be killed for a couple of bruises. We did have a rule in the fight. Because I was breast-feeding, he had to stay away from my boobs, and he did. That was the one sacred kind of thing. He could go for my head, he could pull my hair, just not the boobs. So the motherhood did kind of have something to do with that, but other than that, what are a couple of bruises? [My daughter] doesn’t care. She’s just a kid and I’m fine.
HW: Now that Ben's getting raves for his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, are you gunning for a role in his next film?
JG: I don’t think I would ever star in a movie that Ben directed because somebody has to raise the kids. He’d better, eventually, find a little something for me or he’ll pay for it.
HW: How are the terrible twos going? What kind of stuff is going on at home?
JG: We've seen glimpses of terrible but for the most part, pretty smooth. We haven't hit two yet. We are very into pretend.
HW: When are you going to be making your Broadway debut?
JG: I’m going to go to New York in a week and start rehearsals and I’m freakin’ out and so excited. It’s always been my absolute dream of all dreams. All of this [film and television] stuff that I’ve done has been accidental. I always, always meant to be on stage. I only ended up even auditioning for television and movies because I was understudying a Turgenev play on Broadway and was so broke that, when I got a mini-series, I had to take it. I was so ashamed because I was such a snob. This I couldn’t pass up, working with Kevin Kline, being in New York in the Fall, doing this role, getting to say these words. Just thinking about it, I get so excited.
HW: Have you found yourself typecast as the kick-butt woman?
JG: I don't mean to jinx myself, but no. I don't find that. I feel like I get a wide range of things that come my way, and I'm really, really lucky for that. I would love to go back and do a great action movie as long as the story is as good as this one at some point. But I love doing other stuff too.
[IMG:L]HW: How hard is it to find all the strong female roles you do?
JG: Look, think of any movie that you see. Think of this movie. How many men are there? How many women are there? One. That is every single movie. I mean, any time an actress gets to work with another actress, it's like, "Oh, there are two of us in a movie! How are you? Let's sit in the hair chair together!" We're lonely. Women get screwed in this industry. But yes, it is hard to find roles at all, much less strong females. Look, I'm lucky. I'm working. I've made a living for a long time.