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Garnering praise
Star has nothing but kudos for Juno director, script
By -- Sun Media


Jennifer Garner signs autographs for fans outside the Ryerson Theatre before the screening of her festival film, Juno. (Greg Henkenhaf, Sun Media)


Jennifer Garner says she didn't mind playing the straight man in the black comedy Juno despite the film's hilarious script and bevy of comic performances.

The movie, which is generating positive buzz at the Toronto International Film Festival, opens in theatres on Dec. 14, and is directed by Montreal-born, L.A.-based filmmaker Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking).

"I liked the role just as it was," said the impossibly gorgeous Garner, 35, while seated alongside Reitman, Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody and her castmates -- Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, Ellen Page, Michael Cera, J.K. Simmons, Olivia Thirlby -- at a TIFF press conference yesterday morning.

"We read, all of us, a lot of scripts and there are funny things in them and appealing things -- this one had everything, but mostly it had such heart and such specificity for every character. And especially after seeing Thank You For Smoking, I just, like everyone else is saying, wanted to do it. I didn't want anything else. I was totally happy the whole time we were making it."

In Juno, Garner (Alias, Elektra) plays the hopeful adoptive mother of Page's titular teen character's unborn child. Bateman (Arrested Development) is her less keen husband.

"He's more frail and human than I am, which is what I liked about the script -- is that I'm superior to Jason Bateman," joked Garner, decked out in a summer dress and high heels.

"No," she continued. "I liked that you thought one thing about the script and then (my character) reveals to herself, and also to the audience, that there was more to her. But I begged these guys to consider (me)."

Added Bateman: "Is that kind of the way it happened? (Jennifer agreed) she would forfeit a portion of her salary back to the decision-makers," he joked.

Still, Garner, who is mom to one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Violet with actor-husband Ben Affleck (who walked the red carpet for a screening of Running the Sahara yesterday afternoon in Toronto), said her own motherhood helped her with the role.

"I would say that I just tried to drive Ellen crazy with telling her, 'Well, it's like this,' or 'Maybe you'd be feeling like this,' or 'You know what? When I was pregnant, I was like this.' So I just used it to be controlling. But I did understand the ache for a baby, especially now that I have one, I understood that missing out on that would be something I couldn't bear."

Turns out, though, a much more daunting acting assignment for Garner is still to come.

She'll make her Broadway debut opposite Kevin Kline in Cyrano de Bergerac, on Nov. 1.

"As far as the play, just talking about it, I'm starting to sweat, just thinking about it," said Garner. "I just started rehearsals this week and I'm about to pass out on this floor from nerves and terror but it's really exciting and thrilling. I'm so, so enjoying every minute of it."
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