Honestly, is there a celebrity more down-to-earth than Jennifer Garner?
Not for her the glamazon outfits for a normal shopping trip or the constant in-the-headlines scandals of so many other actresses of her generation.
She regularly goes to church, she spends time with her kids, she supports her family when they need her and recently, she shared with the world how at ease she is with the idea of ageing as she turns 50 on Easter Sunday.
"I'm excited. I like it. Why not? I don't know why I'm surprised that I'm turning 50 but I do have the sense of 'What the heck, it's really here?'," she said on the Ellen Degeneres Show. "I don't know. I like the idea that all of a sudden I'm allowing myself to believe that I know what I know. It's empowering."
In the lead up to the big 5-0, she took to social media to post a countdown of 50 things that make her happy. It included images and video clips of the simple things that spark joy in her life, including blossoms on her nectarine trees, doing charity work, baking for her close circle, and her love for her home of West Virginia.
To celebrate, the down-to-earth actress told Entertainment Tonight she'd be spending the big day with her loved ones. “My family has tickets to come out. My parents and my sisters, nieces, and nephews. I don’t know what we’ll do, but I can’t wait.”
As the Adam Project star rings in a new decade, here are even more reasons why she's a true American sweetheart.
She's proud of her roots
Her humble years growing up in West Virginia in the US have so much to do with who she is today, Jen says. “I’m never ashamed of growing up poor. Rather, I’m amazed by the grace and dignity that my parents had throughout my childhood.”
Jen, who has an elder sister, Melissa Wylie, and a younger sister, Susannah Carpenter, was a young girl when she learnt about mom Patricia’s tough childhood.
“My mom grew up really poor in Locust Grove, Oklahoma, on a farm. I think my mom was so poor, it’s just unbelievable that she managed to leave,” she actress explained in an interview last year.
Patricia eventually became a Girl Scout counsellor then completed a degree and taught English at a local college after marrying Jen’s dad, Billy Jack, a chemical engineer. “When I moved to New York after college, my mom said, ‘Jennifer, no matter what you do, it will never be as big of a deal as it was for me to leave that farm’,” the Camping actress said proudly.
Her kids come first
She’s often snapped out and about with her kids in the most mundane mom way possible. Jen co-parents her and Ben’s kids, Violet (16), Seraphina (13) and Samuel (10), in the public eye like a pro. She’s also fiercely protective of them.
In 2013 she testified before the California state-assembly committee on public safety to get an anti-paparazzi bill signed into law.
“I chose a public life,” she said. “My three children are private citizens. I love my kids. They’re beautiful and sweet and innocent and I don’t want a gang of shouting, arguing, lawbreaking photographers who camp out everywhere all day, every day, to continue traumatising my kids.”
READ MORE | These pics prove celebs do normal things just like us
She's never said a bad word about her exes
Jen certainly has a thing for co-stars! She married Felicity co-star Scott Foley (now 49) in 2000 but they divorced in 2004. Then she dated Alias co-star Michael Vartan (now 53) for about a year.
After co-starring with Ben Affleck (now 49) in Daredevil (2003), the couple married in 2005. Jen has never badmouthed any of them – in particular Ben who provided one attention-grabbing headline after the other as he battled an alcohol addiction. Fans were also outraged at claims he’d cheated on her with their kids’ nanny, Christine Ouzounian.
Following their divorce in 2018, Jen supported Ben and helped him deal with his demons. “People have pain – they do regrettable things,” she said. “They feel shame, and shame equals pain. No one needs to hate him for me. I don’t hate him. Certainly we don’t have to beat the guy up.”
She's had an on and off relationship with businessman John Miller (44) for four years.
She's not afraid to declare her faith
With a strict, conservative upbringing, Jen went to church every Sunday with her family – no makeup or nail polish allowed. “Garner girls didn’t pierce their ears,” she said on the podcast about getting her first piercing during the pandemic. “I’m 48 and I called my parents and I said, ‘Dad, I’m gonna pierce my ears’.” She’s regularly snapped going to church with the kids.
She has some serious heart
Apart from acting, Jen is the face of Once Upon a Farm, a business that makes organic baby food, which she co-founded in 2018. “Trying to juggle the kids with the career I have, it’s confusing,” she says.
But she still makes time for the people and things she cares about.
“She’s unabashedly sincere in a way you just don’t see anymore,” says her Juno director Jason Reitman. “It’s like there’s a contest for who can care the least [but] Jen cares. She cares about her family, acting, dancing, cooking – she unabashedly cares.”
She's just so... nice
The Golden Globe winner found fame as sexy spy Sydney Bristow in Alias, but doesn’t usually play dark and edgy roles.
She built her career on light-hearted films such as 13 Going on 30 (2004) and was dubbed the Queen of Nice by The Hollywood Reporter magazine after working on movies that “feel good to put out in the world”. Her difficult role as a doctor who treats Aids patients in Dallas Buyers Club (2013) was the result of an ultimatum from her agent.
“He said, ‘This call is going to be about you doing this little movie, or it’s going to be about you retiring’,” she says. “I knew I’d asked enough of my representatives, who’d been working their tails off, and I’d said no to everything and kept getting pregnant. I also knew I didn’t want to be done acting, so I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it’.”
But being known as a sweetheart was one of the reasons JJ Abrams cast her in Alias. “She had a vulnerability and a kindness that was undeniable,” he says. “And, of course, you couldn’t take your eyes off her.”
SOURCES: ABCNEWS.GO.COM, PEOPLE.COM, HOLLYWOODREPORTER.COM, ETONLINE.COM, HUFFPOST.COM, VANITYFAIR.COM, USATODAY.COM