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Tuesday, February 4, 2003


By Rob Allstetter / The Comics Continuum

PASADENA, Calif. - Jennifer Garner has a new alias.

Garner, the star of ABC's Alias, is amping up her action levels to play Elektra in 20th Century Fox's Daredevil, due in theaters on Feb. 14.

On Sunday at the Daredevil press junket, Garner gave roundtable interviews, where she talked about the character's requirements and possible future.

Following is an edited transcription from one of those roundtables:

QUESTION: Did your years of dancer training prepare you for all the action stuff you have to do now?

JENNIFER GARNER: Yes, I think that's why I love it as much as I do because it draws on everything I ever learned as a dancer. And I didn't realize how much I missed using my body as a form of expression. And now I do that on a regular basis.

QUESTION: Why did you give up the dancing?

JENNIFER GARNER: It was kind of a natural progression from dance into acting, to being on stage.

QUESTION: Do you miss the dancing side of things?

JENNIFER GARNER: I do, but now it's so frustrating to take a ballet class and I can't do now what I could do when I was 13, when I was dancing six hours every day. So I just get frustrated.

QUESTION: How does Alias compare to Daredevil?

JENNIFER GARNER: The year of Alias was kind of my bootcamp for Daredevil and I did Daredevil because I wanted to learn what I could learn and take it back to Alias. That was one of the reasons, obviously. There were other ones.

I would say I went into it prepared to take on the next challenge, which was learning to fight with weapons, fighting every single day, learning to do the extensive wire work that we did in this movie. So I felt pretty OK going in.

QUESTION: Are you getting bored with kicking ass every day?

JENNIFER GARNER: No, but you have to understand on Alias I spent a lot more time doing dramatic scenes and relationship arcs and acting than I do kicking butt.

And that's part of what I found frustrating. Here I found this thing that I loved and was kind of obsessed with and couldn't get enough of, but every time I did a fight on Alias we didn't have time to rehearse. It was just get in there and go, so I felt like I wasn't improving as much as I would like to. I wasn't actually training.

And I knew that in Daredevil I would be given the opportunity to really train and to focus on fighting.

QUESTION: What's the wire work like?

JENNIFER GARNER: It's so much fun. You feel like you can fly. You feel like you can do anything. Master Chinyun and his Hong Kong wire team are the best in the world at what they do. And Ben (Affleck) and I had the utmost respect for them.

And part of that was that they demanded precision from us. They demanded a discipline from us, and we were so happy to try our best to give it to them. Now, they hated everything that we did. They were very quick to tell, "No, that was not good enough. Start again." But I think we admired them for that and were always willing to go again.

Ben and I rehearsed every single day, Saturdays, Sundays. After working all night, we would sleep for a few hours and meet back up at this warehouse and rehearse with this wire team for three hours and then go downtown and work all night. And we did that every day for six weeks. So, we were fighting each other pretty much around the clock.

QUESTION: Colin Farrell (Bullseye) made it pretty clear you could kick his ass. You're in such great shape and ready to do the scene again and he'd be off in the corner wheezing.

JENNIFER GARNER: Oh, Colin! He was always (in Colin voice), "I gotta quit smokin'. Has anybody seen my cigarettes? This Alias chick, I can't stand it." And then we would get ready to go, and then he would basically just try to kill me. I've never seen anyone more determined to kill me in his whole life.

He was so into our fight scenes and he has such a natural aptitude for fighting. It's a good thing he smokes as much as he does or I don't know that I'd be sitting with you right now.

QUESTION: He should work out like you.

JENNIFER GARNER: It is such a big part of my life. Not that I work out so much. I only work out an hour a day. It's just that I don't miss. I'm consistent. I do it five days week. Sometimes four, sometime six. But pretty much, I fit it into my day. When you're scheduled is as pack as mine is, your day definitely has to be manipulated. It's four in the morning, five in the morning. When you come home and go, "Look, I have a new muscle," your husband eventually will go, "OK, I'm going to go, too."

QUESTION: Reading articles about you, you sound happy on Alias.

JENNIFER GARNER: Well, I get to do what I love to do every single day. Whereas before, I spent most of my time auditioning, now I'm working. And I'm learning every day from Victor (Garber), from Ron (Rifkin), from Carl Lumbly and from Michael Vartan. And when Ken Olin directs, I learn so much from him. So that's what it's given me. It's given me this kind of wonderful home. I wanted to work in regional theater because I wanted to be part of a company, and I feel like I am (with Alias). I'm just really well paid for it.

QUESTION: It sounds like you're an adrenaline junkie. Do you get into that sort of stuff when the cameras stop rolling?

JENNIFER GARNER: No, I am not an adrenaline junkie when I am not at work. I scream my head off on a roller coaster, I would not bungie jump - I would like to jump out of an airplane, but I probably should not do that right now.

But definitely on the show, there's nothing too scary for me. My dream is for them to dangle me from the bottom of a helicopter on a wire. I just think that would be so cool. And if ABC is listening, it wouldn't be dangerous at all. (laughs).

QUESTION: Were you a comic-book fan?

JENNIFER GARNER: I grew up with three girls, so we were much more into Ann of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie than we were into comic books.

Having said that, I wish I had read Elektra's storyline when I was younger because I think it's pretty empowering, this woman who is every man's equal, who can take care of herself, who is as smart as any man and stronger than most.

I, of course, have read all of Elektra's saga now, and most of Daredevil's, unfortunately out of order, so don't ask me anything. I'm dead, I'm alive, I'm dead again, I'm alive again, I'm visiting my grave…

And I might someday branch off and read a little X-Men or Hulk or something else.

QUESTION: Will you be in a Daredevil sequel?

JENNIFER GARNER: Well, I know that I am signed up. So it seems like it's all really up to them. And if they want to bring me back, I would love it. If not…

QUESTION: Could it be in an Elektra spin-off?

JENNIFER GARNER: It could go either way or no way at all. I'm an actor, so I don't take any of this talk too seriously. I have had a lot of things promised to me in the last 10 years.

If it happens - if my stunt double is up for it, great. She's my teacher. She's the person who makes sure I'm safe. Shawna (Duggins) has been with me for two years. I almost wanted to do an action movie this summer so I wouldn't lose her to someone else.

QUESTION: How much of the stunts did you do?

JENNIFER GARNER: I would say 95 percent is me, and she would say the same. She would definitely agree with me.

There is an aerial, for example. She's a gymnast. I can't do an aerial; she does the aerial. If there's something where I have to jump off of something backwards and I'm in heels, I don't really want to do that. I don't trust my sense of balance enough not to tweak a foot or an ankle.

Shawna is so finely tuned, that I would let her do. If there's a stairfall, if there's something that's pure pain and not cool at all, then I absolutely give it to her.

But as far as all the fighting is concerned, that's all me.

QUESTION: Did you ever get hit?

JENNIFER GARNER: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. We beat the dickens out of each other. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Constantly. My knuckles all got busted open with Ben's stick. He just bruised me up one side and down the other. And I did the same to him.

We were dance partners. We were just very violent dance partners. We understood that.

QUESTION: Did you enjoy working with Ben?

JENNIFER GARNER: Oh, absolutely, yeah. A huge part of why I wanted to do the movie is that I knew that Ben would take care of me. I had a peripheral role in Pearl Harbor, and it kind of gave me the gift of observation. And I could watch how he treated everyone around him. And I thought that he's the guy to do your first big movie with. It also seems like a rite of passage, to be Ben Affleck's girlfriend in something.

He was so kind to me and really kind of mentored me through my first big experience like this.

And on top of that, we had all this rehearsing and all this physical stuff and all this fighting, so we were comrades. We were partners.

On Alias, I fight different people all the time, every week. They return, and I'm glad to see them, and then they go away and come back later. But it was great to have a partner all summer, a partner in crime who I would look around, and nobody was as tired as me and Ben. I would know that nobody here gets how much I'm hurting right now, except for that guy.

And I know that he felt the same about me. There's a partnership in that.

QUESTION: You look amazing in the film.

JENNIFER GARNER: My wardrobe in the film, I really think they kind of had it started. Jim Acheson knew what he was going to do with it, but I was there every Saturday for fittings for several hours while I was working on Alias to make sure that I could move in it, so that it would be tight enough to be as sexy as you would want it to be, but that I could still bend my legs.

Sometimes he would finish pinning me up and I would say, "This is great, but I can't throw a roundhouse in this. I'd split it all the way up the back." Which did happen over the summer.

So I did have little bits of say here and there. He was very responsive to any notes that I gave him or any idea that I had. But it's really design.

QUESTION: Are you comfortable with your status as a sex symbol? I know Maxim made you their Woman of the Year for 2001.

JENNIFER GARNER: I don't know. I try not to think about it too much. What am I going to do about it? It's really nice. It's really nice that people think of me that way. It's kind of funny.

To me, it's just a crack-up. And I kind of go to work and remind the crew, "Don't forget, I am, you know, Maxim's sexiest woman of the year." And they're all like, "Ha, ha, ha!" So it's fine.

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