Jennifer Garner: Hollywood’s go-to girl next door takes on fresh challenges

Jennifer Garner

Hollywood’s go-to girl next door takes on fresh challenges.

By Michelle Talsma Everson

If there’s one actress whose career has stood the test of time—and all of the trials and tribulations that being a star has to offer—it’s Jennifer Garner.

While some may know her simply as “Ben Affleck’s ex” (the former power couple were married from 2005 to 2017 and have three children), Garner has built a remarkable career on the big and small screens on her own merit. Moreover, she’s also known as a protective mom—Garner was a leading force behind legal protection of the privacy of celebrities’ children—and an activist for a variety of causes.

Garner’s small and big screen resume is quite diverse. On the small screen, she was known for her role as a CIA officer in Alias—a role that brought her many awards, including a Golden Globe. On the big screen, she’s starred in a variety of genres, including romantic comedies, super hero films, and more. Some of her latest films include Miracles from Heaven, the family-favorite Nine Lives and Wakefield.

One of her much talked about projects, independent film The Tribes of Palos Verdes, was released in December 2017 and touches on a variety of hard-hitting topics, including how mental illness impacts families.

“The Tribes of Palos Verdes is a family drama told through the perspective of Maika Monroe’s 16-year-old daughter Medina, who turns to surfing amid her parents splitting up and her tumultuous relationship with her mother (Jennifer Garner), finding comfort and inner strength in the waves. But Medina is just one of Tribes of Palos Verdes‘ forceful women,” according to a recent article by The Hollywood Reporter.

“The independent movie…features a powerful, emotional performance from Garner as Sandy Mason, a mom with an undiagnosed mental illness who becomes withdrawn and erratic as her husband (Justin Kirk) leaves her for another woman and Sandy’s left to take care of Medina and twin brother Jim (Cody Fern).”

Not only did Garner give a stellar performance in the film, but she also served as one of its executive producers and was vital in helping to bring the movie to fruition.

“It’s never been more important to make sure that we are telling women’s stories and to make sure that women are part of telling them and having Robbie Brenner as the motor and the engine and the superhero of this film — her stamp is all over it and my manager, Nicole King, who executive produced as well — was such an engine just chugging uphill,” Garner tells The Hollywood Reporter. “This was a little rough-and-tumble movie. We didn’t go back to our trailers between scenes. We were all kind of changing in one little bathroom at the same time and as quickly as we could to get the light that was coming in just right. And, in that way, the scrappiness of the movie translates into the closeness of the cast and to the familial bond but also into the claustrophobia of the house. And I think we can’t be afraid of scrappy movies, and we can’t be afraid of putting them in the hands of women.”

While Tribes of Palos Verdes may not be one of Garner’s biggest films, a recent article in Refinery 29 suggests that the role she plays in it showcases her depth as an actress.

“It’s sometimes easy to forget how great of an actress Jennifer Garner is—media portrayals tend to highlight her as the potential friend who would be fun to get brunch with, rather than the next Meryl Streep,” cites a recent Refinery 29 piece. “This is interesting, given her four Emmy nominations for the wonderful Alias, and memorable roles in critical darlings like Juno and Dallas Buyer’s Club. But Garner’s performance in The Tribes of Palos Verdes, which hits theaters Dec. 1, demands to be noticed and talked about seriously. It’s one of the darkest roles you’ve ever seen her take on; and thanks to her fearless delivery, it really, really works.”

“I have a mom and I have daughters, and I know how underneath it all, it’s just such a full relationship,” Garner told Refinery 29. “That’s why I love playing moms in films. There’s no relationship that can raise the stakes more quickly than that with your children. And while I hope that my kids and I never end up in any place near this, I do know that I love them enough that if things went awry, I know that it would be more explosive than anything else in my life.”

While Garner takes her roles for her films to heart, in many media interviews it’s apparent that her role as a mom is the one she cares about the most. In fact, Garner successfully helped to bring to fruition a California law that places heavy restrictions on paparazzi photos of celebrities’ children.

Coming up in 2018 from Garner, the actress is working on a thriller called Peppermint, a role that seems more Alias in nature.

Deadline recently shared some of the film’s details: “Garner stars as Riley North, a young mother who awakens from a coma after her husband and daughter are killed in a brutal attack on the family. When the system shields the murderers from justice, Riley sets out to transform herself from citizen to urban guerrilla. She spends years in hiding honing her mind, body and spirit to become an unstoppable force, eluding the underworld, the LAPD and the FBI as she methodically delivers her personal brand of justice.”

For those who want to follow Garner’s film career and personal adventures, she can be found at her official Facebook page (, where she provides a “behind the scenes,” often hilarious look at life on set and at home.