LOS ANGELES - Her new film Draft Day might give a backstage glimpse of the NFL, but when it comes to picking her favourite pastime, actor Jennifer Garner says there’s no question about which sport rules her household: baseball.
“We’re really a baseball house,” she admits. Much to Blue Jays fans’ chagrin, she adds: “I have grown to dream about what happens for the (Boston) Red Sox.”
Garner, 41, wasn’t always a baseball fan – it’s an interest she developed after she started dating now-husband Ben Affleck.
“When I was first dating Ben, I had never really watched baseball and I didn’t care, if I may say,” she continues. “But if you watch three or four games in a row you learn just enough to hook you in... It’s the same as a soap opera. If you watch three or four, you get just enough of a storyline to grab you and that’s why people are so into them. Now I’m totally addicted to baseball.”
But don’t get her wrong. When she was growing up in West Virginia, every week was like Friday Night Lights. “I’m not sure I knew everything that was going on, but I cared about which end of the field we were on with my whole heart and soul,” she says.
“And believe me when the (football) playoffs happen, it’s all Tom Brady all the time.”
In Draft Day (out Friday), Garner plays a “capologist” who is responsible for making sure the salary cap numbers work for the Cleveland Browns. Her character, Ali, is also the secret girlfriend of embattled Browns GM, Sonny Weaver Jr. (played by Kevin Costner), who is trying to make a blockbuster trade on draft day, while grieving the recent death of his father.
As he attempts to save his career by reversing the sagging fortunes of the Browns, Ali is trying to figure out whether she can build a future with Weaver.
“I loved that we are catching this relationship at such an intense moment,” she says.
Ali is modeled on the Browns’ real-life capologist and director of legal affairs, Megan Rogers.
“What makes women so great in these high-up positions on sports teams is that they can keep their emotions in check. If you’re a capologist, it’s business affairs, plus you’re thinking about the art of football, plus you’re thinking about your team’s future and let’s face it... (women are) just good at that.”
It’s a gridiron drama, but Garner is quick to point out that Draft Day is not just for football lovers.
“Even though football is the backdrop, by no means is this film inaccessible to people who’ve never watched a football game in their lives,” she says. “If you’re not a football person, the relationship and the story are at the centre of the movie... It’s a ride you’re going to take no matter if you know what draft day means at the beginning or not.”
The film is directed by Ivan Reitman and having starred in his son Jason’s Juno, Garner’s lips curl into a smile when she’s asked who she liked working better with.
“I feel like they’re like my kids in that if you ask me which one’s my favourite, it’s whichever one I’m with. Today, it’s Ivan,” she grins.
Garner has just completed Jason’s Men, Women and Children with Adam Sandler, so she’s quick to point out her answer will change later this year. “You can really see what Jason has learned from his dad... I feel really lucky to be in the Reitman club.”
Of course, another big draw for Garner, who co-starred in last year’s Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club with Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, was the chance to appear opposite the legendary Costner.
“To do a sports movie with Kevin and have it be his first football film was just pinch me material.”