Jennifer Garner tackles yet another action-heavy role as an FBI investigator searching for the terrorists behind a deadly bombing in the timely dramatic film, The Kingdom. Garner’s definitely used to fight scenes and being in the thick of the action, but things got a little hot – literally – on the film’s set. In fact, her Oscar-winning co-star Jamie Foxx calls Garner “the strongest person in the world” for the way she handled the tough action scenes and the heat so soon after giving birth to her daughter, Violet.
“Well, to be honest, I thought it wasn’t going to be much of anything. I kept saying to my stunt double Shauna Duggins who I’ve worked with for six years, who’s really my partner in crime and one of my best friends, I said to her, ‘When are we gonna have rehearsal for this fight scene?’ We go in a hundred and ten percent prepared. I could still do the fights from Daredevil in my sleep and a bunch of the Alias ones. Those went by like that [she snaps her fingers]. I kept saying, ‘Where are we going to rehearse? I’m getting nervous. Isn’t there a fight?’ And she kept saying to me, ‘We don’t need to rehearse.’ And that day I showed up and her eyes were this big and her hair was out to here and she had just learned the fight. She said, ‘This is unlike anything we’ve ever, ever done. Get ready. We’re just going to try to beat the s— out of each other.’ Which is so Pete Berg.
Pete Berg was a guest star on Alias the first season and he and I had a fight, and his idea of doing a fight was to improvise. I’m a girl. I don’t really want to be punched. He thought, ‘Hey, once we get in it, let’s just see what happens.’ He started trying to actually hit me, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. They yanked me out of that fight scene so fast. I remember my camera guys were just like, ‘We’re gonna kill him. If he hits you again, we’ll kill him.’ They put Shauna in, who takes all my bruises, and she was in there biting Pete Berg. So I should not have been surprised when she said to me, ‘This is just a fight where you try to kill him and he’ll try to kill you.’ So, it turned out to be an amazingly real scrabble. We loved shooting it. We had a blast. Did I answer you question or did I just talk a lot?”
You did. So it was more down and dirty than choreographed?
“It was so down and dirty that we had scratch marks that we had to cover up on my face for the next few days, where he tried to grab me and pull my face off. He had a scab on his ear because I bit his ear and I just yanked and got his ear and went, ‘Yuck’ [indicating spitting out part of an ear]. It was nasty. It was great.”
What does your husband think when you do these fight? Does he know how tough you are and wouldn’t mess with you in a movie?
“I wish he felt that way about real life. He was visiting the set the day that I shot this fight scene and I thought it would have made him a little bit nervous to see him chucking me against the wall harder and harder with every take, but he was a little too calm about it. Between us, I thought he could have been a little bit more, ‘My wife! You’d better be careful with her!’ He was just like, ‘Go! Go for it, babe! Harder!’”
How did you prepare yourself mentally for the fight scene in this movie?
“I wouldn’t say that I really prepared myself mentally. We prepared ourselves for the roles, and Pete was a huge help in that. Instead of having rehearsals where you’re kind of faking your way through scenes that you’re going to re-rehearse and re-write anyway, our rehearsals were practical. We just joined a class out of the blue with this group of FBI officers who were in evidence response training from all over the country. They were in LA learning about bombs. We just walked into their class, me and Jamie and Jason Bateman. They were all kind of like, ‘Huh? Sydney Bristow is in our bomb class?’ (Laughing) And it was great. We learned a ton.
Because we improvised so much of the movie, it made it really easy to kind of… We all had this common dialogue of high explosive vs. low explosive vs. you know, all different kinds of detonators. Then we spent a day with them also learning about fingerprinting and all kinds of evidence response, or retrieval kinds of things. And then we did another day. Oh, we did a day with this Harry Humphries, who, I’m sure you guys have heard about, who teaches actors how to use guns properly. So we did a day with that. …We did a paint gun thing where the actors simulated the kind of mission that we would actually be on in the movie – and it terrified me. I was so grateful. I just remember that day being so grateful that I don’t have to do that in my life, and that it’s pretend. I just couldn’t believe that we send these kids over there to do that.”