For Millennials. By Millennials.
There’s no doubt that Jennifer Garner is one of the most recognizable actors in Hollywood. And this is because Jennifer Garner’s movies and TV shows span a wide variety of genres throughout her career. She has worked in some critically acclaimed movies, like Catch Me If You Can and Dallas Buyers Club, and in blockbusters like Pearl Harbour and Valentine’s Day. It spans longer than 20 years and is still going strong. So, let’s take a look at her career and how it evolved over the years.
Jennifer Garner: a very versatile career
Unlike many successful actors in Hollywood, Jennifer Garner does not belong to Hollywood royalty. None of her parents were in the industry, and that makes her career all the more impressive. Moreover, her marriage to Ben Affleck is just one part of an overall illustrious career. She is way more than just a renowned celebrity’s ex-wife. And she had some real humble beginnings, but eventually found her way to the very top. So, here’s how Garner paved her way among the elites of Hollywood.
1995-2000: Humble beginnings
Jennifer Garner truly began her career in the industry by just making her ends meet. It all began in 1995 when she began with minor roles in Dude and Where’s My Car? Moreover, she also appeared in some mini-series on TV, which included Significant Others and Time of Your Life. However, by the end of 2000, she did marry Scot Foley (divorced later in 2004), whom she worked with on Felicity. But after 2001, things started to change for Garner.
It was during this time that Jennifer Garner truly made a name for herself and stepped up to become a star in her career. At first, she starred in Pearl Harbour, where she first worked with her future husband, Ben Affleck. Even though she played a minor role in the movie as a nurse, she may have caught other’s attention. That is because right after Pearl Harbour, Jennifer Garner was cast as Sydney Bristow in the ABC spy thriller Alias.
Breakthrough in Alias
The role of Sydney Bristow in Alias is what brought Garner to the world stage. The show’s creator, J.J. Abrams, wrote Sydney with Garner in his mind. As Sydney, Garner truly captured the audience’s eyes with her wild, and often sexy, looks. But, her performance was just as convincing and it was a really multi-layered performance from her. And so, she won a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe Award (with three further nominations) for her performance, with the show going on for 5 seasons until 2006.
As Sydney, Jennifer Garner truly established herself as a worthy action star. And so, that trend continued for a couple of her next films. Most noticeably, she starred as Elektra alongside Ben Affleck in Daredevil (2003). Although the movie did not score well in critic reviews, it did do well at the Box Office, earning north of $170 million. Moreover, she also got a spin-off film Elektra, which didn’t do well with film critics or the audience.
Jennifer Garner’s versatility in display
During this period, however, Jennifer Garner also made some other notable performances. She featured in the critically acclaimed Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks film Catch Me If You Can (2002), though in a not-so-prominent, but memorable role. Other than that, she gave a very charming performance in 13 Going on 30 (2004). It was also around June of 2005, when Jennifer Garner married Ben Affleck, after 1 year of dating each other.
And of course, no one can forget her supportive role in Juno (2007). Critics loved the movie and her performance earned her a lot of praise. In short, this part of Jennifer Garner’s career truly showcased her versatility as an actor.
2009-2013: Some ups and downs
This part of Jennifer Garner’s career saw her going through some ups and downs. She starred in a few flops like The Invention of Lying (2009), Butter (2011), and The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012). She was now relegated into supporting roles or that of mothers/spouse. But, that did not hamper her ability to still shine on the silver screen. First was the blockbuster hit Valentine’s Day (2010), which grossed almost $216 million in the bank. She was a part of a massive ensemble cast in the film, starring Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, and many other.
However, the movie that truly earned Jennifer Garner some well deserved praise was Dallas Buyer’s Club (2013). It showed that when you give Garner the right material and space to work, she will absolutely rock the role. The LA Times wrote about Garner’s performance in the movie:
Garner is once again cast as a quintessentially decent, all-American girl, albeit a doctor. But the question of whether the actress has deeper emotional layers to bring to the screen is not answered here.
People who had seen Alias knew that Garner was perfectly capable of carrying a show entirely on her shoulders.
2014-2020: Underwhelming films
Apart from her career, 2015 was also a turbulent time in Garner’s life as she and Ben Affleck announced her divorce. The couple had three children together – two daughters and one son.
From 2014 onwards, she has got some underwhelming roles in some not-so-exciting films. She never really got the freedom to express the variety of emotions that she can, limiting her to likable roles. It included Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014), Men, Women & Children (2014), Danny Collins (2015), Miracles from Heaven (2016), Love, Simon (2018), among others. However, none of those movies correctly utilized the great skill Jennifer Garner has as an actor. Garner also got her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018 as well.
As of 2020, Garner starred in the Quibi comedy miniseries Home Movie: The Princess Bride, which is a fanmade recreation of the 1987 movie by the same name, while everyone was in quarantine. She is also set to star in a Netflix comedy film Yes Day, with Miguel Arteta as the director.
Jennifer Garner’s Activism
Another important part of Jennifer Garner’s career that deserves a mention is her activism. She has regularly protested for early childhood education. She is an artist ambassador for Save the Children promoting national literacy, nutrition, and early education efforts. Since 2014, she’s been a member of the board of trustees too.
Other than that, she has regularly campaigned for anti-paparazzi laws as well. Back in August of 2013, Jennifer Garner testified before the California Assembly Judiciary Committee in support of a bill that would protect children of celebrities from harassment by paparazzi. The bill, later on, did make things a bit better. However, Garner still said that 7 to 8 photographers still wait outside her children’s’ schools.
So, this is a brief overlook at the incredible career that Jennifer Garner has had over the past 20 years. She is an extremely versatile actor who has played numerous powerful roles throughout her career. Moreover, she has used her platform and privilege as a celebrity for meaningful activism that has helped improve the lives of children in the United States. Therefore, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that there is much more to Jennifer Garner than just a fancy divorce. She deserves more recognition than she gets.