I mentioned to a friend that I had a phone interview with Jennifer Garner, and he excitedly asked, “What did she sound like?” Well, she sounded exactly like the Jennifer Garner who you enjoy watching in sweet and funny and heartfelt roles. She has played a lot of mom roles lately, including her latest in Nine Lives, which is out in theaters Friday August 5.
I’m not sure if that’s why it was so easy to connect with her, or if she is truly as down-to-earth and easygoing as she seems, but I enjoyed talking to her about her new movie, being a working mom, and sharing the spotlight with animals and children.
On Being a Working Mom
Just like one of the themes in the movie, Jennifer shared with us some ways that she unplugs and makes family a priority. She seems so happy with her choices, and it’s refreshing to hear a working mom (or ANY mom for that matter) to proclaim that her best is not only good enough, but just plain good. Those are my words, but here is what she had to share about that mythical balance that we all strive to attain:
I think the biggest thing to learn, and only time really could teach me, is that there is not going to be a perfect balance. Even when you’re home all day with your kids, you can’t be everything to everyone all the time if you have more than one child. Eventually, you have to stop and make dinner, or eventually you have to deal with another child.
I took the summer off because last summer I worked, and I really just wanted to be home. And I’m lucky that my job lets me do that. But, even when I’m off, the day’s still left with, “Oh, would you mind, or could you have a meeting?” It’s a job. So, it kind of never stops. And I just do my best. I do my best.
Letting her Kids Know She’s There
Garner shared that bedtime and reading is sacred. She does not let that time be interrupted. She also shared about how important her real-life family pets have been to her, even in the sadness of teaching her kids to accept death when they lost their lab Martha Stewart last spring:
When they talk about it, they really understand. I mean especially my son, who’s four, he really gets that she had a full life, that she lived as long as she was supposed to, and she was in pain and needed to go. And so, there’s just nothing like pets for helping your kids learn about the sad reality of something having a life cycle.
And then proving once again that our kids wishes are important, she shared about her daughter’s new dog Birdie, and the struggle of making time to love and care for kids and pets alike.
When she filmed Nine Lives, due to her kids’ end-of-school schedule, they were not with her, but hearing about the way she juggled both proved her commitment to both her work and her family:
I worked four and a half weeks on the movie, and I’m not kidding, I think I did the flight 14 times because there would be weeks where you go through the schedule before you start shooting, and they’d say we have to have you up on Monday.
So, I’d say, “Okay, I’ll fly in Sunday. I’ll work on Monday, but my kids’ last day of school is Tuesday, and I have one graduating from Kindergarten, so, I have to get there.” They’d say, “Okay. You could fly back home Tuesday, and then we need you again Thursday/Friday.”
So, I was flying back and forth. I got so much done on that plane. It was amazing. It was so quiet and peaceful, and there wasn’t Wi-Fi. And so, I wrote my daughter all her letters for camp. I did so much stuff on that plane. It was amazing.
Why She Likes Mom Roles
I wondered if it was harder or easier for to play mom-roles, since they mirror her current role. Her answer made me ponder the gift that my own kids are to me, even though they are both growing up pretty quickly.
I mean it’s the most rich time in all of our lives, right? We have the most emotions at play for ourselves, for our kids. We have the most fun. We’re back in tune with our own childhood or our own sense of imagination and fun and silliness. And so, I really like playing a mom.
Plus, I get to work with these kids, and that just makes the day fun. I’m having a great time getting to know the next generation of actors, and, yes, all around, thumbs up on mom roles.
The old adage that says to never work with children or animals is not one that Jennifer Garner lives by.
I loved working with Malina [Weissman, the actress who played her daughter]. She and I became really close. She’s such a sweet girl. And so, any time it was just the two of us, I was particularly happy.
She spoke so kindly of all those she worked with on this film: Cheryl Hines and Christopher Walken and Kevin Spacey, citing Walken’s professionalism, Spacey’s humor, and the fun she hid with Hines.
It was interesting hearing her talk about working with the Mr. Fuzzypants cats. She thought that working with a soft, furry co-star would be fun:
I’m just going to come here and spend time with the cat. And they said, “Oh, no. they’re camera cats. When they’re at work, they’re at work. They get petted by us when they’re at home. So, you can pet them in the scene, but otherwise, they need to stay focused on us.”
And I said, “Okay. Well, can I look at them?”
The cats really were cats in a certain area, and they had air conditioning. So, they didn’t lose any fur. All that is done to keep the cats focused, in a good mood, happy, looking camera-ready, they are definitely the star or the diva. They are the center of the universe when they’re on set.
I’d be getting a touch up, and they’d say, “Jennifer, Fuzzypants is ready!” And I’d say, “Okay, I’ll be right there!” And we’d all hurry because Fuzzypants was in a better mood.
Learn more about the cats featured in the movie, including some internet celebs, in this featurette:
Nine Lives, in theaters August 5
This was a fun family movie that my 12-year-old son and I both enjoyed a lot. The film focuses on the importance of family and how it’s never too late for second chances. I loved seeing how forgiving the kids are in granting second chances to their father, and we laughed a lot at the cat too.
Don’t be the scaredy-cat in your family! Nine Lives opens in theaters this Friday. Get your tickets: http://ninelivesmovie.com/
Visit the Official Site
Like ‘Nine Lives’ on Facebook
Follow Mr. Fuzzypants on Instagram
Nine Lives – IN THEATERS THIS FRIDAY
Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is a daredevil billionaire at the top of his game. His eponymous company FireBrand is nearing completion on its greatest achievement to date – the tallest skyscraper in the northern hemisphere. But Tom’s workaholic lifestyle has disconnected him from his family, particularly his beautiful wife Lara (Jennifer Garner) and his adoring daughter Rebecca (Malina Weissman).
Rebecca’s 11th birthday is here, and she wants the gift she wants every year, a cat. Tom hates cats, but he is without a gift and time is running out. His GPS directs him to a mystical pet store brimming with odd and exotic cats- where the store’s eccentric owner- Felix Perkins (Christopher Walken), presents him with a majestic tomcat, named Mr. Fuzzypants.
En route to present his daughter with her dream pet, a bizarre turn of events finds Tom trapped inside the body of Mr. Fuzzypants. Adopted by his own family, he begins to experience what life is truly like for the family pet, and as a cat, Tom begins to see his family and his life through a new and unexpected perspective. Meanwhile, his family adjusts to life with an odd and stubborn cat, and his son David (Robbie Amell), steps up in ways Tom never expected.
If any hope exists of returning to his family as the husband and father they deserve, Tom will have to learn why he has been placed in this peculiar situation and the great lengths he must go to earn back his human existence.
Directed By: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Christopher Walken, Jennifer Garner, and Robbie Amell