Golden Globe winner Jennifer Garner, who hits the big screen as comic book heroine Elektra Natchios in Daredevil, admits that she was never much of a comic book fan. Until she was cast opposite Ben Affleck in the latest film adaptation of yet another popular Marvel comic.
The beautiful and athletic 29-year old actress, who rose to fame in the television hit Alias, admits that as one of three girls in her family, “I followed The Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon.” Now, however, she has become an ardent fan of this strange world of comic books. “I wish that I had read Electra when I was growing up because I think she’s a very empowering young woman.”
Born out of Marvel’s original 1964 comic book, the film adaptation casts Ben Affleck as blind attorney, Matt Murdock, who transforms himself into the vengeful Daredevil by night, a caped vigilante figure with heightened senses. He meets his match, love wise, with the alluring Elektra. Asked whether making Daredevil brings out a childhood fantasy within, the actress smiles before conceding that “I didn’t realize that I had the fantasy before I did it, but there were times when I’d be losing the hair at night, taking out the green contacts, losing the great clothes, putting on my sweats and just feeling like, “Oh, I like her better.'”
The actress further admits that “She’s cooler than I am to the point where I want to stay her.” It’s an intricate challenge bringing a comic book character to life. Not to mention a little daunting “because first of all you have all of these comic books to draw from, from which to build a character. You also have all of these fans that think of this character in a specific way before you ever say one word and there is a weight of the responsibility of that. Then at the same time, it’s a comic book character so you can go anywhere with it. It can be as big as you want or as real as you want or as crazy as you want so it took a little while to find our way, but it was great to start with the physicality of it.” Not only the way Garner’s Elektra looked on screen, but handling the character’s unique weapon, a deadly looking three prong Japanese sword. “That’s the first thing that really made me feel like Electra, because she’s so brutal. You can really hurt yourself with that.”
In both Daredevil and Alias, Garner comes across as one tough woman, but she doesn’t necessarily see herself as tough off screen. “I see myself as a strong person, but I’m not tough in any way, shape or form and I am not violent,” she says laughingly. “I can’t even watch violence, though now I can watch a fight scene with a little bit more interest than I could before because I like to see if it was a good reaction, or a nice kick.” One wonders whether the actress is longing to escape from these physically demanding projects into something softer and gentler. After a slight pause, Garner says that she is not worried about it. “I love this physical stuff which is why I wanted to do Daredevil because I wanted to learn what Daredevil could teach me. On Alias, I learn a fight and do it immediately the next day and just try to get better as we’re working on that scene. I don’t have time to really train so I wanted the training that I knew Daredevil would give me.”
Garner has come a long way from her birthplace of Houston, Texas. Raised in Charleston, West Virginia, by her mother, a retired English teacher, and her father, a former chemical engineer, Jennifer was the middle sibling of three girls. She spent nine years of her adolescence studying ballet, being driven by a love of the stage. Jennifer took this determination with her when she enrolled at Denison University as a chemistry major, before changing to drama. New York attracted the young actress after college where she worked as a hostess while pursuing a career in film and television. After moving to Los Angeles, she scored a role in “Felicity” where she met her future husband, Scott Foley.
Garner says that one of the reasons she married Foley, currently in a new TV comedy series A.U.S.A, was because of his sense of humour. Or more specifically, “because he’s such a dork and so ridiculously goofy.” Adding that “he’s funny in a way to me that Tom Hanks is funny. He can be totally over the top and do this great physical comedy, but he also has a way of bringing it down to earth and making it very real like he just plays kind of a straight baffled guy so well.” The couple, who just moved into a smaller house, share a similar sense of humour “except he will beat a joke into the ground to the point where I would tell him: If you try that on me one more time, I mean, I stopped laughing six months ago, so please stop.”
The marriage is still going strong, insists Garner, despite the pair’s hectic and divergent schedules. “We don’t have a ton of time together, but we know that that is what this point in our life is all about and he’s still the one I want to be with when I do have time, so we make it happen whenever we can. For example, the cast went out to dinner last night and I said I’m so sorry guys, but I have a date. I went home to be with him.”
Garner may not have expected to find success through Alias, but the series, not to mention Garner’s Golden Globe win last year, has elevated her status. “I’m really glad that the show is critically acclaimed and that it’s doing well,” she says when discussing how she deals with this new fame status. “I love that job more than anything in the world but as far as fame is concerned, it hasn’t really hit me yet and not to sound naive about it, I know that there’s awareness about me. I know that I am on the cover of a magazine right now and that’s fine, but I’m at work so much of the time that I don’t live my own normal life, so I don’t see it. Normally I would have been watching Extra, Access Hollywood, or ET and seen kind of what was happening. Now I may do the interviews, but I never see them, so I’ve kind of got my head down and I’m doing my job.”
No wonder she doesn’t have to reflect on life after Alias. “To be honest, right now it’s still so consuming just getting every single episode out. It still takes up so many just pure man hours on my part that I don’t spend a lot of time speculating about when Alias is over. I’m trying to just enjoy it while it’s here and prepare for the future during the summers and with things like Catch Me If You Can and whatever small roles I can do on the side. I’m thrilled to be given roles right now in a way that I never have been before. After all, I’ve been out there auditioning for a long time.”
But Jennifer is not without her dreams and ambitions. She is very keen on the idea of an Alias feature film, and if she could pick her dream project, that’s a no-brainer. “The one time I’ve had real envy of someone else’s career, is with these musicals. I grew up singing and dancing and I can hardly stand it, so I would stick myself smack in the middle of one of these musicals and spend a year instead of kicking and turning my foot in and making it ugly, would go back to what I would know how to do.”