Jennifer Garner

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Jennifer Garner
Garner in 2014
Born Jennifer Anne Garner
(1972-04-17) April 17, 1972 (age 43)
Houston, Texas, United States
Education George Washington High School
Alma mater Denison University (B.F.A.)
  • Actress
  • film producer
Years active 1995–present
Children 3
Relatives Casey Affleck (brother-in-law)
Summer Phoenix (sister-in-law)

Jennifer Anne Garner (born April 17, 1972)[1] is an American actress and film producer. She gained recognition for her performance as CIA officer Sydney Bristow in the ABC spy-action thriller drama series Alias, which aired for five seasons from 2001 to 2006. For her work on the series, Garner won a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

While working on Alias, she gained cameo roles in movies such as the epic war film Pearl Harbor (2001) and the biographical crime drama Catch Me if You Can (2002). Since then, Garner has appeared in supporting as well as lead roles in the 2000s including the superhero film Daredevil (2003), the romantic comedy fantasy film 13 Going on 30 (2004), the superhero film Elektra (2005), the comedy-drama Juno (2007), and the fantasy romantic comedy film The Invention of Lying (2009). In the 2010s, she appeared in the fantasy comedy-drama film The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012) and the biographical drama Dallas Buyers Club (2013).

Early life and education[edit]

Garner was born in Houston, Texas.[1] Her mother, Patricia Ann (née English), was a teacher of English, from Oklahoma, who grew up poor,[2] and her father, William John "Bill" Garner, worked as a chemical engineer. When she was four years old, her father's job with Union Carbide relocated her family to Princeton, West Virginia, Calgary, Alberta and then later to Charleston, West Virginia, where Garner resided until her college years.[3] She has credited her older sister, Melissa Lynn Garner Wylie, as a source of inspiration to her.[4] Her younger sister is Susannah Kay Garner Carpenter.[5]

Garner's father is "very conservative, but my mom is quietly blue."[6] Garner's sheltered upbringing included not wearing make-up or a bikini, going to church every Sunday, and waiting at least until the age of 16 to be allowed to get her ears pierced, which, she later joked, made her family "just a step away from being Amish."[7][8] She said: "I'd hate to say it was strict. It was just not condoned. I never felt hemmed in."[9] Garner attended George Washington High School in Charleston and graduated in 1990.[10]

Garner began taking ballet lessons at the age of three and continued to dance throughout her youth, but she did not envision herself becoming a classical ballerina.[11] She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drama from Denison University,[12] Granville, Ohio, where she was initiated into the sorority Pi Beta Phi.[13] In the fall of 1993, she studied at the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut. Garner says she did not plan on becoming an actress: "I wanted to be a doctor, a librarian. ... (Acting) wasn't possible to me. The more I learned what there was to learn about this field, the more hungry I became for it. It comes out of wanting to learn more, as opposed to 'I want to be a star.' I never felt that way," she said.[10]

Acting career[edit]

1994–2001: Career beginnings[edit]

In 1994, Garner appeared in Atlanta productions of two Shakespeare plays, The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night's Dream, by the Georgia Shakespeare Company.[14]

In 1995, Garner started pursuing theater in New York City and earned $150 a week as an understudy in the play A Month in the Country for Roundabout Theatre Company.[4] She was then cast in her first television role as part of a made-for-television movie Zoya, based on the Danielle Steel novel. In the late 1990s, she made brief appearances in individual episodes of Spin City and Law & Order while also securing roles in two short-lived television series, Significant Others and Time of Your Life.

In 1996, Garner appeared in a made-for-TV movie, "Harvest of Fire" starring Patty Duke, as an Amish young woman, Sarah Troyer

Garner made her feature film debut of the 21st century in the comedy Dude, Where's My Car? opposite Ashton Kutcher, playing the girlfriend of Kutcher's character. In 2001, she appeared as the supporting character of a nurse in the big-budget epic Pearl Harbor, starring her future husband Ben Affleck.

2001–05: Television breakthrough and transition to film[edit]

Later in 2001, J.J. Abrams, the producer of Felicity, in which Garner had played a recurring role since 1998, approached Garner to audition for the role of Sydney Bristow in his new spy drama Alias. Garner, who up until then had mostly played weepy waifs, did not learn that she "might have to throw a punch or kick" until the first few days of the audition.[15] Told that she "throws like such a girl"[15] and with no background in martial arts or gymnastics, she enrolled in a month-long, private Taekwondo class to prepare for the audition.[15] Even as Garner was cast after several auditions, Abrams revealed that he remained panicked with the thought that she might not be able to pull off the role, especially as, on the first day of shooting, he was told by Garner herself, "I don't think I can do this."[16] Garner later commented, "I was such a girlie-girl then. I didn't even know how to punch."[17] While she performed many of the action sequences during the series herself, the dangerous explosions and complex fights were handled by her stunt double, Shauna Duggins.[18] The first few episodes of season one of Alias, which averaged about 10.2 million weekly viewers,[19] earned Garner the award for "Best Actress in a Television Series — Drama" at the 2002 Golden Globe Awards. Garner's salary for the show began at $40,000 an episode and rose to $150,000 per episode by the series' end.[20] During the show's run, Garner received four consecutive Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama nominations as well as Emmy Award[21] nominations for her lead performance. She won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series in 2005. That same year, during the fourth season, Garner directed the Alias episode "In Dreams", which aired in May. She received producer credit during the series' final season. The series concluded in May 2006 after a shorter fifth season that was abbreviated from 22 to 17 episodes due to Garner's pregnancy, which was written into the season's storyline.[22][23]

After the initial success of Alias, Garner made a big screen cameo in the Steven Spielberg film Catch Me if You Can in 2002; Spielberg had seen her on the show and wanted her to play that small role.[24] Her breakout film role came when she played Ben Affleck's love interest as Elektra Natchios in the action movie Daredevil (2003), an adaptation of the comic book. Garner stated that her training for Daredevil was more grueling than her work on Alias, and revealed that as she got hung up on wires several times during fight sequences, Affleck became "in charge of reaching up and saving [her]."[25] She was involved in a potentially serious accident on the set of Daredevil when, entangled in wires with her arms stuck and unable to move while doing a flip, she came crashing towards a wall "head-first with such velocity, that [she] was about to smash [her] head into the wall".[26] Recalling how she was rescued by Affleck, she said in 2003, "out of nowhere comes this 6 ft. 4 in. red devil who just kind of put his arms out and shouts: 'I've got her!' I'm telling you, it was like, 'I've got my own superhero.'"[26] While Daredevil got mixed reviews, it was a box office hit.[27]

Garner in 2009 at a press conference for The Invention of Lying.

Garner starred in her first leading role in 13 Going on 30 (2004), a moderate commercial success.[27] Reviewers praised her performance as "radiant"[28] and "effervescent without ever being cloying",[29] and The Christian Science Monitor commented that "while Garner is no Tom Hanks, she's consistently appealing".[30] Her second lead role saw her reprising the character of Elektra in the 2005 Daredevil spin-off titled Elektra, a box office disaster that was panned by critics.[31] The Boston Globe stated, "Based on Garner's humorlessness, lack of vocal inflection, and generally bland disposition, "the Way" she has yet to grasp seems to be that of acting,"[32] whereas USA Today concluded that "Jennifer Garner ... is far more appealing when she's playing charming and adorable, as she did so winningly in 13 Going on 30.[33]


Garner performed the Frank Loesser song "My Heart Is So Full of You" on the 2006 charity album Unexpected Dreams – Songs From the Stars. She appeared in the films Catch and Release (2006) and the action thriller The Kingdom (2007) alongside Jamie Foxx, Jason Bateman and Ashraf Barhom. She then appeared in the Jason Reitman-directed comedy/drama feature Juno, which became a sleeper box office hit, grossing over $230 million from a production budget of $7.5 million.[34] After that film's premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, Entertainment Weekly declared Garner's work the best female supporting performance of the festival, saying, "The star of Alias and The Kingdom does no butt-kicking in this sweet comedy. Instead, as a young wife desperately hoping to adopt, she's funny, a bit tough, and unbelievably touching."[35]

Garner at the premiere of Butter in 2011

Garner made her Broadway debut on November 1, 2007, playing Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac alongside Kevin Kline at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway.[36] The show was originally set to run until December 23, 2007, but it was extended through January 6, 2008 due to the Broadway stagehand strike in late 2007.[37] She then had the starring role alongside Matthew McConaughey in the 2009 romantic comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, that came out to negative reviews but was a modest commercial success.[38][39] Also in the 2009, she had the lead in Ricky Gervais' directorial debut The Invention of Lying. A romantic comedy, the movie was released to favorable feedback from critics and audiences alike and modest earnings at the box office.[40][41] During a promotional interview for the movie, Garner remarked why she was drawn to the project: "When I first read it [the script], I just laughed out loud, and that's the most important thing. I loved the way my character was introduced. I loved the challenge of looking at a scene and thinking, I have to play this with no subtext, no irony, no sarcasm and just be as straightforward as I could possibly be. I think that's a really interesting acting challenge".[42]

In 2010, Garner appeared in the ensemble romantic comedy Valentine's Day, directed by Garry Marshall, which also starred Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway, Julia Roberts, former Alias co-star Bradley Cooper, and Patrick Dempsey among others.[43] She portrayed the girlfriend of Dempsey's character.[44] The film was a commercial success, grossing over $215 million worldwide.[45]

She starred in Arthur a remake of the 1981 film. The film received poor reviews and failed at the box office with a total gross of $45 million on a $40 million budget.[46][47] In the same year, Garner was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[48] The following year, she appeared in the drama The Odd Life of Timothy Green, as Cindy Green.[49] The film is about a magical pre-adolescent boy whose personality and naïveté have profound effects on the people in his town.[50] It received mixed reviews from critics and had modest ticket sales in its theatrical run.[51][52][53] In October 2012, Butter – starring Garner – was released, to mixed feedback from critics and poor earnings at the box office.[54][55] Despite the reception for the film, several reviews like those for Austin Chronicle and Variety expressed praise for Garner's part.[56][57]

Garner reunited with Matthew McConaughey in the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club, which received positive reviews and was a box office success with a worldwide gross of $55 million over a production budget of $5 million.[58][59] On April 24, 2013, Garner began filming Summit and OddLot Entertainment's dramedy Draft Day in New York and Cleveland, Ohio. The film also stars Kevin Costner, was directed and produced by Ivan Reitman, and was released in 2014.[60] Garner also co-starred with Steve Carell and Ed Oxenbould in the 2014 Disney adaptation of the popular children's book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.[61]

In May 2013, Garner joined the cast of the comedy-drama Danny Collins alongside Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Bobby Cannavale and Christopher Plummer.[62]

In 2014, Garner was recognized by Elle Magazine during The Women in Hollywood Awards, honoring women for their outstanding achievements in film, spanning all aspects of the motion picture industry, including acting, directing, and producing.[63]

Other ventures[edit]

Production company[edit]

In 2005, Garner founded a production company called Vandalia Films.[64] The first film she produced was Butter, released in American theaters in 2012.[64]

Product endorsements[edit]

In 2007, Garner became an ambassador of skin care brand Neutrogena.[65] In 2013, Garner was the first celebrity spokesperson of Max Mara.[66][67] Starting in September of the same year, the campaign appeared in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, W, InStyle, The New York Times, and the International Herald Tribune.[67] Garner has been a spokesperson for food company Luvo since 2012.[68][69][70][71] In 2014 she did TV commercials for Capital One.[72]


Early childhood education[edit]

Garner at a Save the Children event in 2013

Garner is currently on the board of trustees for Save the Children, the United States branch of the British children's charity,[73] advocating for early education.[74] She had been an ambassador for six years, and frequently visits with families involved in the organization's Early Steps to School Success program, which coaches families to help children learn in the early years.[75] She has partnered with Frigidaire as part of her work with Save The Children.[76] In 2013, Garner took her eldest daughter Violet to a Save The Children gala in New York: "My husband and I have never taken our kids to a public event before, but I brought my daughter Violet, because ... I want her to see the passionate commitment Mark Shriver and Hillary Clinton have to make the world a better place for everyone."[77]

In 2014 she joined the Invest in Us campaign[78] while in 2015, she will appear in a PBS documentary which focuses on rural poverty among children in West Virginia.[79]

Political activities[edit]

In 2006, Garner spoke at a rally in support of Democratic Congressional candidate Jerry McNerney in Pleasanton, California.[80] In 2014, Garner donated $25,000 to the campaign of Democratic politician Wendy Davis.[81]

Anti-paparazzi campaign[edit]

Garner has campaigned for laws to protect her children from paparazzi. "There's an idea that because our pictures are everywhere that we are complicit in it. When really what happens is they're waiting outside our door every single day. My kids take karate for example, and we have our classes at the same time every week. So the guys know when we have karate, and so 20 of them wait there for us every single class. So that's a lot of energy coming at little, little kids."[82] In August 2013, Garner testified alongside Halle Berry before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in support of a bill that would protect celebrities' children from harassment by photographers.[83] The bill passed in September 2013.[84]

Personal life[edit]


Garner married actor Scott Foley in October 2000.[85] The couple, who met on the set of his series Felicity in 1998, announced their separation in March 2003.[85] Garner filed for divorce in May 2003 citing irreconcilable differences.[86] It was finalized in March 2004.[85]

Garner with husband, Ben Affleck at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards. The two married in June 2005. They have three children together.

Garner subsequently began dating her Daredevil co-star Ben Affleck and the two made their first public appearance as a couple by attending the Boston Red Sox's opening World Series games in October 2004.[87][88][89][90] They married on June 29, 2005, in a private ceremony at the Parrot Cay resort on the Turks and Caicos Islands, officiated by Garner's Alias co-star Victor Garber.[91][92] Garner and Affleck have three children: daughters Violet (born December 1, 2005,[93] Seraphina (born January 6, 2009),[94][95] and son Samuel Garner (born February 27, 2012).[96][97] Affleck and Garner announced they were divorcing on June 30, 2015.[98]

Stalking incident[edit]

Garner was stalked in 2002 by Steven Burky, who was eventually arrested in December 2009, after violating a 2008 restraining order.[99] Burky was charged with two counts of stalking, to which he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity; in March 2010, he was ruled insane and sent to the California state mental hospital with a court order to stay away from the Affleck family for 10 years if released from the hospital.[100]



Year Title Role Notes
1997 In Harm's Way Kelly
1997 Deconstructing Harry Woman in Elevator
1997 Washington Square Marian Almond
1997 Mr. Magoo Stacey Sampanahodrita
1998 1999 Annabell Alternative title: Girls & Boys
1999 Aftershock: Earthquake in New York Diane Agostini
2000 Dude, Where's My Car? Wanda
2001 Stealing Time Kiley Bradshaw Alternative title: Rennie's Landing
2001 Pearl Harbor Nurse Sandra
2002 Catch Me If You Can Cheryl Ann Cameo Role
2003 Daredevil Elektra Natchios
2004 13 Going on 30 Jenna Rink
2005 Elektra Elektra Natchios
2006 Catch and Release Gray
2007 Kingdom, TheThe Kingdom Janet Mayes
2007 Juno Vanessa Loring
2009 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Jenny Perotti
2009 Invention of Lying, TheThe Invention of Lying Anna
2010 Valentine's Day Julia Fitzpatrick
2011 Arthur Susan Johnson
2012 Butter Laura Pickler Also producer
2012 The Odd Life of Timothy Green Cindy Green
2013 Dallas Buyers Club Dr. Eve Saks
2014 Draft Day Ali
2014 Men, Women & Children Anna Smith
2014 Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Kelly Cooper
2015 Danny Collins Samantha Leigh Donnelly
2016 Miracles from Heaven Filming
2016 Nine Lives


Year Title Role Notes
1995 Danielle Steel's Zoya Sasha Movie
1996 Harvest of Fire Sarah Troyer Movie
1996 Dead Man's Walk Clara Forsythe Miniseries
1996 Swift Justice Allison Episode: "No Holds Barred"
1996 Law & Order Jaime Episode: "Aftershock"
1996 Spin City Becky Episode: "The Competition"
1997 Player, TheThe Player Celia Levison Movie
1997 Rose Hill Mary Rose Clayborne Movie
1998 Significant Others Nell 6 episodes
1998–2002 Felicity Hannah Bibb 3 episodes
1999 Aftershock: Earthquake in New York Diane Agostini Movie
1999 Pretender, TheThe Pretender Billie Vaughn Episode: "Pool"
1999–2001 Time of Your Life Romy Sullivan 19 episodes
2001–06 Alias Sydney Bristow 105 episodes
2003 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Jennifer Garner/Beck"
2003 The Simpsons Herself Episode: "Treehouse of Horror XIV"
2013 Martha Speaks Jennifer Episode: "Too Many Marthas"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result
2002 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Alias Won
2002 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress – Drama Series Alias Nominated
2003 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Alias Nominated
2003 MTV Movie Awards Best Breakthrough Female Performance Daredevil Won
2003 MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss (shared with Ben Affleck) Daredevil Nominated
2003 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress – Drama Series Alias Nominated
2003 Satellite Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Alias Nominated
2003 Saturn Awards Best Television Actress Alias Won
2004 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress – Drama Series Alias Nominated
2004 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Alias Nominated
2004 Satellite Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Alias Nominated
2004 Saturn Awards Best Television Actress Alias Nominated
2004 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Alias Won
2004 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actress Drama Alias Won
2004 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress – Comedy 13 Going on 30 Nominated
2004 Teen Choice Awards Choice Hissy Fit 13 Going on 30 Nominated
2004 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Blush 13 Going on 30 Nominated
2004 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Liplock (shared with Mark Ruffalo) 13 Going on 30 Nominated
2004 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Chemistry (shared with Mark Ruffalo) 13 Going on 30 Nominated
2005 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress – Drama Series Alias Nominated
2005 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Alias Nominated
2005 MTV Movie Awards Best Musical Performance (shared with Mark Ruffalo) 13 Going on 30 Nominated
2005 MTV Movie Awards Best Musical Performance (shared with Natassia Malthe) Elektra Nominated
2005 Satellite Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Alias Nominated
2005 Saturn Awards Best Television Actress Alias Nominated
2005 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Alias Won
2005 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actress Drama Alias Nominated
2005 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV: Chemistry(shared with Michael Vartan) Alias Nominated
2005 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Action Adventure/Thriller Elektra Nominated
2005 Teen Choice Awards Choice Red Carpet Fashion Icon: Female Nominated
2006 Saturn Awards Best Television Actress Alias Nominated
2007 Online Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Juno Nominated
2007 Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Cast Juno Nominated
2014 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Dallas Buyers Club Nominated


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