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September 12, 2007

The Zen of Jen (and Ben)

jennifer garner

Photo Credit: Mark Abrahams

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Garner's allure has so much to do with the fact that she's not a creature of Hollywood — her West Virginia wholesomeness always comes through. "Growing up where I did, the thought of working on a television show or in a movie ... that existed on a parallel plane, you know?" she says. "When I was a kid, the Professor was the Professor and Mary Ann was Mary Ann — [the actors] did not have personal lives. They lived on Gilligan's Island, where they were very busy, you know, escaping the natives. I never watched that stuff ever, ever, ever and thought, I want to be that."

Yet she now finds herself in a starry marriage, part of a show-business power couple. She worked with Ben Affleck on the set of Daredevil — and started dating him soon after — as he was coming off two wildly publicized, over-scrutinized romances (with Gwyneth Paltrow, then with Jennifer Lopez) that had Hollywood holding its collective breath on Garner's behalf. By May 2005, she was showing; by June 2005, they were married. When I ask her how they make it work, Garner's words slow to a crawl. She doesn't want to disappoint — nor does she want to divulge.

"I don't know what makes it work. But it does," she says, one careful clause at a time. "One thing that makes it not not work is that we're both pretty nice. He's not someone who's ever going to blow up on anyone. What I mean is, if he's ever angry with me, he doesn't act out on it in a weird way or yell at me. And I am the same. So we can handle conflict in a very loving and adult way." Garner marvels at Affleck's ability to connect: "Ben's very interested in finding out what makes people tick. When he's listening to someone — and this can be someone he meets in the street, his brother, anyone whom he's standing next to in line — if he clicks into them, he can stand in one spot for hours. It's amazing."

Another key to their success: During their courtship in 2004, Garner made room in their relationship for Affleck's first true love, the long-cursed Boston Red Sox, who, that very year, won their first World Series since 1918. ("I said it to him many, many times: 'Do you see what's broken the curse? Do you see the killer of the jinx?'") Never a baseball watcher in the past, Garner says, "I think that [games] are like soap operas. If you watch five in a row, you know enough to get hooked."

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