Opening this Friday is Dallas Buyers Club, which premiered at TIFF back in September. With a tremendous amount of Oscar buzz for the performance of its leads, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, some of the film’s other actors are being a bit overshadowed, like Jennifer Garner, who plays Dr. Eve Saks.
When McConaughey’s character, Ron Woodruff, gets diagnosed with AIDS, Saks is one of the few who shows sympathy and agrees to him fight the disease, even if she doesn’t necessarily agree with or believe in the way that he’s going about it.
During the Toronto International Film Festival, we sat down with several other journalists for a roundtable interview with Garner. Enthusiastic and cheerful, the actress was pleased to speak with us about her new film. She talked about working with McCounaughey, what type of research she did for the role, the tight shooting schedule that the film had, how she’s dealing with the news that her husband (Ben Affleck) will be playing Batman and more.
Check it out below and enjoy!
How did you first get involved with the film?
Jennifer Garner: Well, I hadn’t worked for a couple years. I had a baby and had really just hunkered down at home and I was actually really comfortable with that notion. So I didn’t even want to open the script, even though I heard how good it was and I heard it was Matthew [McConaughey]. I love Matthew, but I didn’t even want to know about it. But then, of course, I read it and I talked to the director, Jean-Marc [Vallée] and I watched his movies and then I had to do it.
I was nursing mom when I was shooting this though and it was tough. We shot it so fast and there was no downtime for me. In previous films that I’ve done after having baby I would say to the AD, “let me know when there’s a break,” or even the camera guys would suggest a break for me. Here though, there was never a time to relax. I had to, for the first time ever, just make the crew wait for me while I took care of the baby. They were great about it though.
How was it working with Matthew McConaughey and did he set the tone for the project?
Jennifer Garner: It was all about Matthew. We all took the role because of Matthew. I’ve worked with Matthew before, I was inspired by him and we worked on a fluffy romantic comedy. If you go back and look at interviews from then, I said that he had the best work ethic, he’s the most committed. He treated this like it was the most serious drama in the world, and he did. He is still that guy and there’s a reason why he is as successful as he has been for as long as he has been.
His pages on Ghost of Girlfriends Past were covered with notes and ideas and thoughts and they look the same on this. There’s a through line there, it’s not like he’s settling. I was desperate to work with him and totally inspired by the work that he has been doing. I think the movie got made because of Matthew. I felt like I was there very much in a protective capacity and a supportive role to him in every possible way. I wanted to support him in this performance.
Were you familiar with this story at all before reading the script?
Jennifer Garner: Nope. In no way. I was fascinated by the topic though and not that long ago I lost a very dear friend to AIDS, so I am aware that it is still very much a disease that is in the world. I feel that this movie is part of putting it back in peoples’ conversations and putting education back in the forefront, which is where it needs to be. Because the numbers are on the rise, it’s not a disease that has gone away; people have a false sense of security about it. It is really important that we still talk about prevention of AIDS, and HIV. What I really loved was this arc that my character went through, from being very black and white and a very cognitive thinker to someone who reacts with her heart and is more of a healer than anything else.