A devoted mom both on- and offscreen, Jennifer Garner was recently in New York promoting her new Disney movie, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," which hits theaters on Friday.
Garner and her husband, Ben Affleck, are parents to Violet, 6, Seraphina, 5, and Samuel, 2. The "Dallas Buyers Club" star portrays Kelly Cooper, the mother of 11-year-old Alexander, who experiences the most terrible, horrible day of his life. The movie also stars Steve Carell, who plays Ben Cooper, Kelly's husband, as well as Bella Thorne in the film adaptation of the popular 1972 children's book of the same name.
The 42-year-old "Alias" actress recently attended a special screening of "Alexander" hosted by The Moms and Land's End and Sweet City Candy at Dolby Laboratories in New York City. I was able to catch up with her about her new movie role, her children and how she balances it all. Take a look:
Q. One of the greatest messages in the film is that it’s OK to have a bad day. Do you talk about that with your kids?
This is why I think the book is so popular. Sometimes, everything seems to go wrong. You trip and fall, step on your shoelace, you forget your homework, you don’t like what’s in your lunch. You just have a bad, horrible day. That’s what this movie is about – that it’s OK to have a bad day. You’re still a family if you all have a bad day together.
Q. In the movie, your family starts singing in the car to help alleviate an uncomfortable situation. Do you have something fun you do with your family?
I make homemade pizza a lot. Whenever I make it I sing, "Mama Mia pizzeria…" My kids think it’s so dumb but I don’t care, I do it anyway. They’re like, "Mom that is so silly, will you sing it again?"
Q. What was it like working with Steve Carell?
Steve Carell is the coolest. The most fun. The most awesome, best guy. He's the easiest to be around and just the sweetest. He’s always in a good mood and makes the day better. He’s now my favorite actor to work with.
Q. Now that you have kids, will you continue to do stunts in movies moving forward or are you more careful?
I don’t know. I used to do these crazy stunts on "Alias." I’d hang from the bottom of a helicopter, jump from buildings and fight big strong guys.
Q. With such a busy life, do you make it a point to set aside alone time with your husband?
Yes, I definitely do. I have made many, many trips out to Detroit where he is on location. And I’ve taken each kid one at a time to see him and I’ve gone on my own.
Q. In the movie, you portray a working mom. Were the emotions and the things the character expressed familiar to you?
Don’t we all just want to die from guilt? And from wanting to be in three places at once? Life is not tidy. I didn’t want my character to get a promotion because I make the choice to be with my kids over work all the time. And that’s valid. I don’t think having it all means getting the promotion, the job and all that. You’re always struggling to figure out the balance. But, yes, the chaos in the morning at the house in the movie is very much like my own house.
Q. Are there any tricks that you do during the day when you are apart from your kids that help you feel close to them? Advice for working moms?
I just try to be where I am. If I’m at work, I’m 100 percent at work. And it’s true, if I have a break, I’m on my phone figuring out play dates and emailing with the teachers and doing all the stuff that everyone does. But I try to allow myself the freedom to focus at work. And not try to feel guilty that I’m not home. Then what good are you doing for anyone? Enjoy it. Laugh. Relax. Talk to grown-ups. And then when you go home, totally focus at home. That’s what I try to do.
Q. What was your favorite part of the movie?
You know what I loved the most? When Steve caught all those shrimp in his mouth at the hibachi restaurant. He didn’t know he could do it. And they said well, we’ll probably have to pretend and make it look like he is catching the shrimp. But let’s do one take and see how many you can catch. Well, he caught like 10 or 11 in one take. I was there and I was so proud of him. It was an exciting day.