Friday, 30 August 2013

Jennifer Garner


So, I was down in Cowes again a week or so ago so that Guy could do his RYA Level 2 Powerboating course.  I was mainly working (always easier to do when you are overlooking the sea) but had taken my Kindle to read in my spare time. Then, disaster, it ran out of battery and I hadn't taken a charging lead as we were only there for a few days.


I would have to resort to some old technology.  I wandered down to one of Cowes' many charity shops but found that their selection of books was a bit thin.  Endless sailing books, of course, but also lots of Mills and Boon romances and tedious crime novels (not my thing at all).  They had a few novelisations of the TV series Alias and so at four for £2 I picked them up out of desperation.  These were, like most American TV spin-off books, aimed at teenagers but I whizzed through the first one in one sitting with a glass or two of Island Ales' Wight Knight.


Now, I used to love JJ Abrams Alias, which starred the pouty Jennifer Garner in her first big starring role.  I watched four series on DVD but, for some reason, never watched the final series.  Now, given the convoluted nature of the plot I decided to watch the whole thing again so I can go straight into series five at last. 


Garner was splendid in this: handling the action sequences with aplomb (although on her first day on set she told JJ Abrams she didn't think she could deal with this aspect of the role despite having done a month of martial arts training before her audition) and the agonised lip (and such lips!) quivering required when her fiance is killed (or "kilt", as she curiously pronounces it in the pre-title sequence).  She actually won the best actress for Alias in a television drama at the 2002 Golden Globe awards; the first genre winner since Gillian Anderson for the X-Files in 1997.

Garner in Daredevil (top) and Elektra (bottom)

She had her shot at becoming a major big screen action queen with Daredevil (2003), Elektra (2005) and The Kingdom (2007) but we have yet to find a rival to Angelina Jolie in this area.  Neither Sarah Michelle Gellar nor Eliza Dushku could break away from TV and Garner's age now means it RomCom drama for her.

Arena Magazine May 2002

Still, she is now officially Ben Affleck's baby machine so she no doubt has enough to keep her occupied and also has three films currently in post-production.

Garner in Pearl Harbor (second from right next to Kate Beckinsale)

Born in Houston in 1972 as a youngster she studied ballet which certainly helped her in the high kicks department.  She studied drama at university and started to get her first small TV roles in the late nineties. She met Ben Affleck on the set of Pearl Harbor in 2001 but she was already married at this point, having married Scott Foley one of the stars of the JJ Abrams produced college show Felicity,where she had appeared in three episodes in the late nineties.


While still married but separated she had a fling with her Alias co-star Michael Vartan before rapidly moving on to Affleck.  She claimed there was no overlap between the three men but the dates involved look pretty seamless.  Hmm.

Yes, this was a ratings sweep episode

The great joy of Garner in Alias was, of course, the disguises she was required to don for her individual missions. The complete opposite of what a real spy would wear (my sister would snort in derision) some of her outfits, especially when ratings sweeps approached, would border on fetish gear.

This was helped by the fact that most of the bad guys ran their evil operations from night clubs (as you would).  It was also, luckily, that period when belly revealing clothes for women were popular.  Fortunately, Miss Garner had just the sort of belly you wanted to see, unlike quite a lot of examples on the streets at this time!

The Legatus' all-time favourite Jennifer Garner Alias outfit has to the the one from Season One where she goes undercover in Las Vegas.  Unusually, they actually seem to have gone to Las Vegas to shoot this in the old Aladdin Casino; the central Aladdin's lamp is prominent in some of the shots.  Usually, the different locations were heralded by some stock footage and then an attempt to make Los Angeles look like wherever in the world it was supposed to be.  Over the course of the series these attempts became better as buildings and views were digitally inserted into a US shot foreground.  I remember a particularly effective one of Budapest, a city the Legatus knows well.

By the time the Legatus started going to Las Vegas on business, however, in 2006 the Aladdin had been sold to Planet Hollywood (as the casino has now been renamed) but the changeover was done in stages so I can remember the old ancient Baghdad-style shopping mall.  That was part of the problem, I was told by our man in Las Vegas.  A Middle-Eastern themed casino wasn't going down too well with some post 911 Americans.

Garner's outfit for this episode was supposed to be as one of the casino floor's staff.  In fact, at this time the girls at the Aladdin wore a sort of harem style effort so her outfit was specially designed for the show.  It was a cropped silver top, which showed her splendid stomach to good effect, coupled with a matching low on the hips split miniskirt.  The genius touch was the silver skull cap with dangling threads. Everything about it was designed to show off Garner's enticing wiggle. When she ran it just shimmied in all directions. Excellent! The Legatus is hard put to think of any more effective outfit for an actress in a TV series.

Laura Goldsmith picks up her award while Alias actor Victor Garber looks on

In 2003 series costume designer Laura Goldsmith won the Costume Designers Guild Award for her work on the show. A couple of years ago the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles included one of Goldmiths designs for Garner in an exhibition marking fifty years of the little black dress.

In 2004 a PlayStation 2 game of Alias was released.  Although the actual stars of the TV show recorded dialogue for the game it was produced by a UK games company Aklaim.  I bought a copy not because I play PlayStation games but because of an incident from the previous November when I had been at a conference in Berlin's splendid Adlon Hotel.  This was the hotel where Marlene Dietrich had been discovered singing in the bar, as the hotel's publicity tells you.  It was also Hermann Goering's favourite  hotel which the hotel doesn't mention.

A much fatter Legatus and the toned and supremely fit (in every way) Jo in Berlin, 2003

Anyway, I was interviewed by an unusually attractive journalist, Jo.  We got on so well that we went out to dinner.  It turned out that Jo was living a double life too, like Sydney Bristow in Alias.  For while she was an infrastructure journalist by day she was an actress and kick boxer by night.  It was the latter skill that got her the job as the motion capture body double for Jennifer Garner in the Alias PlayStation game.  She had to spend days in a motion capture suit in a warehouse in East London being filmed for the game.  

Jo becomes Jennifer

Interestingly, the first outfit the computer generated Jennifer Garner wears in the game is the little silver one from the casino, although, sadly, without the cap.  Jo and I stayed friends for some time after this but, sadly, I have lost touch with her now.  Jo told me that when Jennifer Garner saw the game she was impressed with the way that Jo had "caught her wiggle".  The Legatus does enjoy a girl with a wiggle and few have wiggled to such purposeful effect as Jennifer Garner.

An unusually revealing shot, this one, for GQ

Since Alias, JJ Abrams career has gone stratospheric with Lost on TV and Mission Impossible, Star Trek and now Star Wars.  He tends to work with collaborators he has worked with before so might we see Garner in the Star Wars universe?  Perhaps in a slave-girl outfit on a sail barge.  If only...



  1. So many US satellite based shows, and so little time... :o))

    PS. A little airbrushing of the name badge may be in order if you are to retain your international man of mystery air....

  2. That organisation no longer exists but I have done as you suggested...

    Alias was on Channel 4 in the UK but I agree - I can see forty boxed set TV shows I haven't watched and from where I am sitting and that's only a third of what I have got!