Back In Action
Actress Jennifer Garner is going back to her bad-gal roots for an epic new movie role. Here, she shares why she is excited to get back into the action!
Jennifer Garner is throwing punches again in her new drama thriller
It has been a while since we last saw Jennifer Garner strut her stuff as a martial arts master and government agent in Alias, the TV series that launched her career. For her latest movie, Peppermint, she plays a mother bent on avenging the deaths of her family at the hands of a Mexican drug cartel.
To play the role, Jennifer embarked on a training regimen to regain her bad-ass mojo and get into killer shape.
“I did boxing, weights and crazy, inverted push-ups,” she says. “It felt great to be back working with a stunt team again. My stunt double (Shauna Duggins) and I have worked together since the third or fourth episode of Alias. She’s like my sister. For us to train together again was like old home week.”
In the action-packed dramatic thriller, Jennifer plays Riley North, a grieving widow who decides to take justice in her own hands when a court decides to free the three suspects she has identified for “insufficient evidence”. Riley then spends the next five years undergoing intensive training before embarking on a personal crusade to kill the cartel members responsible for the death of her husband and daughter.
Peppermint is directed by Pierre Morel, the French helmer behind Taken (2008), the action film that relaunched Liam Neeson’s career. Industry observers believe that returning to the action – she hasn’t played such a physical role since 2003’s Daredevil – could well give a similar boost to Jennifer’s career.
In addition to rigorous three-hours-a-day boxing and martial arts training, Jennifer also underwent Cryotherapy sessions and followed the “Body By Simone” exercise programme.
Apart from her recent films Love, Simon and The Tribes Of Palos Verdes, Jennifer has spent the past several months filming the comedy TV series Camping, developed by Lena Dunham and based on the original British series of the same name.
The 46-year-old now lives in Los Angeles with her three children, Violet, 12, Seraphina, nine years old, and Sam, six years old, from her former marriage to Ben Affleck.
What interested you in returning to the action scene?
I thought it was a great script and I also wanted to work with Pierre Morel who did such an incredible job directing Taken. He was a great choice because he truly understands how it is necessary for the dramatic moments to be equal to the action.
Your character has suffered a terrible loss. As a mother, obviously that resonates with you...
That is why I love playing mums. There is no relationship that raises the stakes more quickly than that involving your family. My character has already suffered a terrible loss and now what she wants is justice which the system has not been willing to give her. There is no bigger reason than that for her to go out, get into really good shape and kill the people responsible.
Obviously, the situation in Peppermint is very extreme. Do you have fiercely protective instincts with your kids?
As a mother, you summon all your strength to fight for your children and you never give up no matter what. My mother taught me so much about life and having a positive outlook that I want to do the same for my kids. Once I had my children, I discovered that you kind of turn into a mother bear – someone who is very protective and completely devoted to taking care of them.
That’s why I love playing mums. There is no relationship that the stakes more quickly than that involving your family
For most of the past several years, you have played mother roles. Is that your preference?
I feel like I am finally playing characters that are closer to the truth of who I am. In my 20s, I often felt out of sync with my characters. They felt much younger than I was feeling inside and I did not feel that emotional connection. Now I am at a point where I am playing women whom I feel much more in touch with in terms of my own thinking and experience.
You have said you thrive on playing warm-hearted mothers and sending out a positive message in films like Love, Simon, and Miracles From Heaven...
I believe it is important to raise people’s hopes and bring some positivity to the way we think about our world. There are a lot of difficult and terrible things going on in the world and it is good to be able to tell stories about how we can overcome challenges and even tragedies.
The human spirit is very strong, but sometimes we all need help in seeing what is good and beautiful in life. I enjoy being part of the stories that take us in that direction and are able to inspire people in some way.
Peppermint marks a return to your Alias action star days. What do you think about the roles in your career?
It was all unplanned. When I was a teenager, I was much more into singing and dancing. With Alias, my career went in another direction. What I love about acting is being able to constantly put yourself into the minds of different kinds of characters and explore what it is like to face different kinds of circumstances. I played a serious character in Dallas Buyers’ Club, for example.
More women are stepping into action roles. Do you see trailblazer, having played Sydney in Alias?
I love to see more and more women in those kinds of roles! I think it is good that young women have role models whom they can look up to in films and feel inspired by dynamic and powerful women. I was grateful for Alias and what J.J. Abrams did with that series. He gave me a role where I was playing a resilient woman whom young women responded positively to.
Your characters often have an underlying strength and sense of determination. Does this reflect your real self?
I feel strong. I have always had a good sense of who I was and a lot of drive and determination. I have been that way since I was a little girl. Anytime there was something I was not good at, I would keep working hard until I had mastered it.
Do you help your kids have that kind of determination?
They have a lot of enthusiasm and curiosity about the world and I want them to grow up with some of the innocence and appreciation of all the beautiful things about life that I felt when I was a child. I love my life as a mother and I also take the responsibility very seriously.
The world seemed to stop when Jennifer arrived on the 2018 Oscars red carpet in this rich blue Atelier Versace number.
Jennifer returns to her action hero roots with her new movie Peppermint. She has also kicked butt in Alias, Elektra, The Kingdom and Daredevil.