The Zen of Jen (and Ben)
By Chris Connelly
Photo Credit: Mark Abrahams
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."