CO-ED Interview with Jennifer Garner

I have a dream. In my dream, I’m running my own magazine and every month I interview our sexy cover model in person. My scenario also has the two of us alone on a yacht in the middle of the ocean during the Q&A, sipping champagne out of long flutes and laughing. Always lots of laughter.

Unfortunately, this isn’t quite what happened with Jennifer Garner. The lovely actress is currently trying to accomplish about a billion different things at once, such as avoiding the tabloids. Given all that, it was nice of Jen (she said I could call her that) to give us some time out of her busy day to talk about college life and what it’s really like playing a half-naked ninja assassin.

BACK TO SCHOOL
CO-ED: Were you thinking about acting when you went to college?
JENNIFER GARNER: Not professionally. I had been doing regional theater in my hometown in West Virginia. I went to school undecided. When you first get to school, the first thing you do is try to find a place where you can meet people who have similar interests. So I went straight to the theater department.

You were a chemistry major …
Yeah, for about five minutes (laughs). My freshman chemistry teacher will tell you I missed most of his classes, and I ended up with a D or something. Every now and then, I’d just decide to fail a class. You know how it is: A class wouldn’t interest me and I’d let myself do horribly. Now, I’d never let that happen.

That D may affect your career.
My dad thought so. He was in a constant state of panic that I was going to screw up my life, and you know what? What I did was not a good thing to do. I wish I knew the stuff that I just kind of slept through because it was inconvenient.

So, what did your parents think about you becoming a drama major? I’m sure they were thrilled.
They were pretty cool about it. They had saved their whole lives for us to be able to go to school without debt. We scrimped and went without allowances and were also really careful growing up, and then all the sudden here I am spending all that money to be a theater major. But they were supportive parents. They never tried to control us or tell us what to think or what to be interested in.

Why ever did you choose to go to Denison (a small liberal arts college in Ohio)?
It was three hours from my hometown, and it actually ‘ it was the school with the latest application deadline. I was always kind of a procrastinator. All my applications were due two days later, and I was, like, ‘Well, they have a strong theater department.’ I can’t say I had the most directed college search.

What advice would you give a college kid who wants to major in theater?
Perform as much as possible, and get yourself on stage any way you can. At the same time, life experience is just as important as anything you learn in the classroom. You need to have vocal control and all the stuff you learn in theater class. You also need to live in France and not know anyone and barely be able to speak the language for a semester. Or you need to spend a summer doing a shitty job in Australia, or whatever it is, and that stuff is JUST as important. Life is what you draw on the rest of your career, and it happens when you’re 18.

Do you still have friends from college?
Oh, yeah, I talk to several people from Denison regularly.

I found your old e-mail account at the Denison alumni Web site. You may want to take that down.
(Laughs) Yeah, I really didn’t think about it when the school asked for it. One day I checked my e-mail. I had, like, 5,000 new messages.

So my e-mails got through! Hey, how was your sorority, Pi Beta Phi?
I wish I had taken more advantage of it. There were such great girls. I wouldn’t say it was a huge part of my life, and I probably missed more chapter meetings than I went to, but the girls there are what mattered.
Ever experience the ‘freshman 15’?
It happened more my sophomore year. I’d go to this truck stop after rehearsal in the middle of the night, before I started studying, and I remember calmly putting away three crullers, or glazed donuts, or sausage and gravy and biscuits. I packed it on, yeah.

You must have an embarrassing story from school.
I was sort of a constant embarrassment in college. I was the kind of girl who was always running late, dressed in pajama bottoms and my hair in curlers on my way to the theater. I was a little bit of a disaster. I could do college much better now, that’s for sure.

Being at a small school, you’re working from a small dating pool. Was that ever a problem?
Well … I can’t say that I dated everyone (laughs), but, yeah, it’s fairly small there, and insular. (Long pause) A friend of mine married a guy I dated my freshman year. But I don’t care, honestly. I’m psyched for them.

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