Mummy Dearest

Mummy Dearest

Jennifer Garner once seemed destined to become the next big Hollywood movie star.

Yet eight years after she ended her reign as television's sexiest spy on the hit series Alias, the actress' once-promising film career has gone decidedly low-key, with a resume consisting mainly of supporting roles - often as a football mum.

The performer is taking it all in her stride, though - and at 42, now says she rather likes being a movie mummy.

And it is just as well because she has found herself doing it again in her latest film, Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which opens in Singapore tomorrow.

"I have enjoyed this new world of playing mums," says an ebullient Garner at a Los Angeles press event for the Disney flick. Co-starring Steve Carrell and Ed Oxenbould, it is based on a popular 1972 children's book about an 11-year old boy who fatefully wishes his family would experience the dreadful day he just had.

With this film, Garner does seem to be making a habit of it, having also played mothers or would-be mothers in the dramas Men, Women & Children - which debuted in the United States recently - The Odd Life Of Timothy Green (2012) and Juno (2007).

She is one in real-life too, sharing a brood of three - Violet, eight, Seraphina, five, and Samuel, two - with her actordirector husband Ben Affleck, 42.

Even the kids at her children's school have cottoned on to Garner's speciality.

"This little kid whose mum is a teacher at my child's school said, 'Mrs Affleck is a lot like my mum - she gets to have a lot of other kids.'

"And I feel that way, you know - you form these relationships," she says of her movie offspring.

But perhaps it is not such a radical shift - even when she was younger and vamping it up on screen, her sex appeal was always tempered with a sweet wholesomeness.

In her breakout role on Alias (2001 to 2006), she won legions of fans playing both sides of the coin, her sultry-yetvulnerable secret agent character, Sydney Bristow, earning her a Golden Globe in 2002.

When the series ended, many thought she would surely find the same sort of success on the big screen, but it never quite materialised.

Daredevil, the 2003 comic-book adaptation that introduced her to future husband Affleck, did well commercially, but the spin-off based on her character, Elektra (2005), was a resounding flop.

The first romantic comedy she headlined, 13 Going On 30 (2004), performed respectably, but she would not be able to sustain success in this genre, as evidenced by duds such as Catch And Release (2007) and Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past (2009).

Even when she has picked winners, she has not been able to snap out of the supporting-actress rut, often receding into the background next to her co-stars. A case in point: last year's acclaimed HIV drama Dallas Buyers' Club, in which she played the frumpy doctor who was there mainly to set the scene for Matthew McConaughey's Oscar-winning turn.

Still, Garner has carved out a sort of second career for herself in the public eye - playing the all-American wife and mother.

This has arguably been her most successful role to date, with rarely a week going by that US tabloid magazines do not feature at least one candid shot of Garner going about her day with her three adorable children, and occasionally Affleck, in tow.

The photographs are popular partly because of their reassuring ordinariness, with the actress - who is seen as being a devoted, hands-on mum, with a nine-year marriage that has so far defied Hollywood odds - often dressed down and make-up-free.

Speaking to Life! last year, actor and family-friend Matt Damon revealed that this image has become the goose that lays the golden egg for tabloids and paparazzi.

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