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Jennifer Anne Garner (born April 17, 1972) is an Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe- and SAG Award-winning American actress. She is best known for her role as CIA agent Sydney Bristow on TV's Alias.
Garner was born in Texas, the daughter of Patricia Ann (née English), an English teacher from Oklahoma, and Billy Jack Garner, a chemical engineer who worked for Union Carbide from Texas. She is the middle child between two sisters, Melissa Garner Wylie (born 1969, resides in Boston, Massachusetts) and Susannah Kay Garner Carpenter (born January 24, 1975 in West Virginia, resides in Charleston, West Virginia). At three years old, Garner began taking ballet lessons which she continued throughout her youth. Although she admitted that she loved dancing, she never had ambitions to become a classical ballerina. When she was four years old, her father's job with Union Carbide relocated her family to Princeton, West Virginia, then to Charleston, West Virginia, where Garner resided until her college years.
Garner and her sisters had a very strict home life as children. They were expected to attend church every Sunday, were not allowed to go to movies or wear make-up, and had to wait until they reached the age of 16 before they were allowed to have their ears pierced. Although Susannah broke the rules and had her ears pierced before she was 16, and Melissa had her’s pierced at 16, Jennifer did not have her ears pierced until the age of 27.
In 1990, Garner graduated from George Washington High School in Charleston, where she played the saxophone. She then enroled at Denison University to study chemistry. Upon realizing that she enjoyed stage acting more than science, Garner changed her major to drama. While at Denison, Garner was initiated into the sorority Pi Beta Phi. Garner graduated from Denison in 1994 and continued her drama education at the National Theater Institute where she was trained by fight choreographer David Chandler, and told she was a natural in stage combat. Keen for immediate experience, she visited her friend, Clayton Kirlew, in New York City in 1995 and decided to take her chances in New York theatre.
In New York City, Garner earned $150 a week as an understudy in a play. She was then cast in her first television role, a part in the television movie, Zoya, based on the Danielle Steel novel. Her next acting jobs were in two short-lived television series, Significant Others and Time of Your Life, and a recurring role in the series Felicity. In 1999, Garner was cast in one of the leading roles in the television movie, Aftershock: Earthquake in New York. For this role, she was required to have her ears pierced for the first time ever. However, once filming was completed, she then allowed the piercings to heal up again and could only wear clip-on earrings. She also appeared in the 2000 comedy Dude, Where's My Car?, playing Ashton Kutcher's girlfriend. In 2001, she appeared as a nurse in the big-budget epic Pearl Harbor, co-starring with her future husband Ben Affleck .
Later in 2001, J. J. Abrams (who produced Felicity) approached Garner about starring in a new show he was working on for ABC. Garner auditioned for and was cast in the role of Sydney Bristow in the spy drama Alias. The series became a success and Garner won the award for "Best Actress in a Television Series - Drama" at the January 2002 Golden Globes. Alias had just begun a few months beforehand, and Garner won the award with only half the season's episodes aired. The series was successful, concluding in May 2006 after a fifth, abbreviated season (due to Garner's pregnancy, a development that was written into the storyline of the fifth season). Garner's salary for the show began at $45,000 an episode, rising to $150,000 per episode by the series' end. During the show's run, Garner received four consecutive Golden Globe nominations for her lead performance. She also received four consecutive Emmy Award|Emmy nominations for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series." Garner won the "Actor Award" from the Screen Actors Guild in 2005. In March 2005, Garner directed the fourth-season Alias episode, "In Dreams," which aired in May. Garner received producer credit during the series' final season.
After the initial success of Alias, Garner returned to her film career with a small role in the Steven Spielberg film Catch Me if You Can, and starred alongside Ben Affleck as Elektra Natchios in the action movie Daredevil, an adaptation of the comic book. She reprised her role as "Elektra" in the 2005 spin-off to Daredevil, entitled Elektra. Garner showed her comedic side in the romantic comedy 13 Going on 30, which was a financial success and established her as a leading feature film actress. Garner is known for performing many of her own stunts, and in January 2005 was forced to bow out of some publicity duties for Elektra, due to what was first thought to have been a viral infection but was revealed to be the effects of nerve damage to her back, caused by a stunt during the filming of the fourth season of Alias.
Catch and Release, Garner's most recent romantic comedy, was released January 26, 2007. Garner has formed a production company named Vandalia Films, which will produce its first film in 2007. She will produce the company's upcoming films Sabbatical and Be with You. Garner takes her first role as part of an ensemble in The Kingdom alongside Jamie Foxx and Jason Bateman. Box office analysts have commented the choice was smart on Garner's part, as her other projects with her as the sole lead are risky gambles. Garner was set to star in Zach Braff's directorial feature of Open Hearts but backed out of the project so she could spend more time with her family.
Garner has recently appeared in the Jason Reitman-directed comedy/drama feature Juno. After that film's premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, Entertainment Weekly declared Garner's role the best female supporting performance of the festival, saying "The star of Alias and The Kingdom does no butt-kicking in this sweet comedy. Instead, as a young wife desperately hoping to adopt, she's funny, a bit tough, and unbelievably touching."
Garner appeared as Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway from November 1, 2007 alongside Kevin Kline in the title role. This was be her stage debut. Garner was originally set to only be in the Broadway until December 23, 2007 but the strikes of the stagehands lead to delays and the play was extended until January 6, 2008.
On October 19, 2000, Garner married actor Scott Foley, whom she met on the set of Felicity in 1998. After separating from Foley in March 2003, Garner filed for divorce in May 2003, citing irreconcilable differences. Dismissing rumors of infidelity, Foley stated that the reason behind their separation was Garner's increasing fame after the success of Alias. Similarly, Garner claimed that their Hollywood lifestyle led to their failed marriage and they "really were victims of Hollywood. The two were officially divorced on March 30, 2004.
Garner is known for being private about her personal life. This is reflected in her relationships with Michael Vartan and Ben Affleck. Over the course of her relationship with her Alias co-star Michael Vartan, she never made any public appearances with him and was late to confirm their relationship in August 2003. Garner began dating Vartan in mid-2003, and though rumors of their break-up began in March 2004, Garner only confirmed the end of their relationship in August 2004.
Garner's relationship with her Daredevil co-star Ben Affleck, which started in July 2004, was also very low-key. It was months into their relationship before a paparazzo managed to take a shot of these two as a couple. Both stars' publicists denied their relationship until a public appearance at a Boston Red Sox game. When there were rumours of Garner being pregnant, there were repeated denials of the pregnancy. On Garner's 33rd birthday, Affleck proposed to her with a 4.5 carat (900 mg) diamond ring from Harry Winston, and the couple married on June 29, 2005 in a surprise ceremony at the Parrot Cay resort on the Turks and Caicos Islands. Finally, their publicists confirmed the marriage and pregnancy. At the time, Garner was pregnant with the couple's first child. Officiating at the ceremony was her Alias co-star Victor Garber. Her pregnancy was incorporated into the plot of Alias, with the season's episode order reduced from the initial 22 to 17 in order to let Garner go on maternity leave., she gave birth to their daughter, Violet Anne Affleck, in Los Angeles, California.
A regular guest at various awards ceremonies and functions, Garner is noted for showcasing the work of many top fashion designers. For her appearance at the 2006 Academy Awards ceremony, Garner wore a flowing halter-style Michael Kors dress and a collection of diamond jewelry worth well over $1,000,000. In addition to an antique 18.5-carat Cartier diamond cuff worth $900,000, she also wore a Paris 1964 8-carat diamond hair clip worth $76,000. Completing her accessories, she also joined in with that year's main jewelry trend and wore a pair of long diamond chandelier-style earrings worth approximately $250,000, designed by Fred Leighton. Because these were designed to be worn in pierced ears, which Garner did not have at the time, she had to have her ears re-pierced especially a few weeks before the ceremony in order to be able to wear them. Following the Academy Awards ceremony, Garner continued to wear pierced earrings for a short while, before again allowing her ear piercings to heal up, and her ears are now unpierced once more.
In late 2007, Garner officially changed her name to 'Jennifer Affleck' for private purposes, registering to vote under this name in the 2008 Presidential election, although she continues to use 'Jennifer Garner' for professional purposes.
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