We’ve loved Jennifer Garner since her 13 Going on 30 days, but she earned our serious respect when she combatted pregnancy rumours for good back in October, quipping on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that yes, she has a baby bump: “Its name is Violet, Sam, Sera,” she joked, referencing the names of her kids.
A mother to those three youngsters, who are all under 10, Jennifer told Ellen that, yes, from now on, she will have a bump. “And let’s just all settle in and get used to it. It’s not going anywhere.”
When the gorgeous 42-year-old isn’t busy looking after her own brood, she’s giving back, serving as Artist Ambassador for the Save The Children foundation. The actress spends time with mothers and children in need via the organisation's home visitation programme.
“It's very important to me to be part of this project to help mothers who could do with a hand and, in particular, to promote education and reading.”
Not only is she keen to be virtuous to those away from the bright lights of LA, but the high-profile actress is also looking to change a few parts of the industry from the inside.
“I’m all too aware that the vast majority of films are written and directed by men, and sometimes those men need to be given feedback about the way women are being portrayed. This is a hot topic at the moment, and it’s going to get hotter.
“We need a better way of casting and respecting women in the industry. It shouldn’t be that past the age of 40 the roles are all about being a mother or a wife. Real life isn’t like that.”
But that doesn’t mean she’s going to turn her back on those roles completely, she admits. “If there’s a real moral take-out then I’m still going to do it.” Indeed, Jennifer’s most recent incarnation has been in Men, Women and Children, where she plays Patricia, a mum who is hyper-diligent about her daughter’s social media use.
“She is convinced that social media and the internet can be very dangerous territory for teenagers and she doesn't want her daughter to be a victim of that. She might be overly controlling, but I understand her willingness to be the bad guy and alienate her daughter's affection for her.”
Her character’s predicament is all too real – doesn’t every parent want to protect their little one from the world? In fact, it turns out that even the Affleck residence has some rules in place.
“I'm much more inclined to be tougher about discipline than Ben tends to be, even though he's very involved and serious about his role as a parent.
“Like the rest of us, I only want what’s best for my children. I grew up in a very sweet and innocent world and I would love to make sure that my children enjoy that kind of childhood for as long as they can.”
But today’s version of childhood play is at odds with what we might remember. A generation ago, instant messaging was a futuristic device. Today, if it’s not Facebook, it’s Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and so it goes on. In this day and age, parenting can be a tricky field to navigate.
“I think we're all, as a society, figuring out what's appropriate,” says Jennifer. “I mean, we can't stay in front of what our kids are learning or seeing or using all the time. We're all running to catch up, us stupid grown-ups! Thank goodness my kids are little enough that they're far from the age of having phones or iPads or anything like that.”
With her eldest, daughter Violet, just eight, Jennifer hasn’t re-entered the ‘tween years’ - yet. But as an ultra-famous parent, she knows her kids will face quite altered challenges of adolescence than the girl next door.
“I know that my children will grow up with a very different kind of perspective compared to what I grew up with, and that frightens me. We're going to do our best, obviously, to make that process as normal as possible. We can't suddenly decide not to be famous anymore - the attention will always be there. It's just a reality we have to face up to.”
That said, high-profile parenting doesn’t put this mum off. “From the time I was a little girl playing with dolls, I couldn't wait to have a family and it's been such a fulfilling experience for me. I've also been very lucky to have a truly supporting and giving husband, and that always makes things easier.”
In fact, it was Ben who persuaded Jennifer to take on the role of Dr Eve Saks in the Oscar-nominated Dallas Buyers Club.
“I had been hesitating,” she admits. “A project has to resonate with me pretty deeply in order to convince me to spend time away from my family, and it also has to fit with Ben's schedule, too.”
And fit it generally does. The result? Jennifer Garner has a successful big screen career, good health, and a happy, beautiful family. And when you put it like that, who needs Facebook?