Fans have seen Jennifer Garner as a Marvel ninja in “Elektra,” a crafty secret agent in “Alias” and a vigilante killing machine in “Peppermint,” but seeing her play Kablowey – a wild, messy mix of capture the flag, paintball and water balloons filled with Kool-Aid – in the new Netflix family comedy “Yes Day” is on another level in her action-heroine resume.
“Oh my gosh, everything led to Kablowey in my life. Who knew? Kablowey should be the next professional sport in L.A. as far as I’m concerned,” Garner says.
And as her director Miguel Arteta can attest, she doesn’t mess around. “Yes Day” (streaming on Netflix Friday) stars Garner and Edgar Ramirez as parents who decide to ditch being strict and say yes to whatever their children (Jenna Ortega, Julian Lerner and Everly Carganilla) want for 24 hours. Chaos obviously ensues, from a windows-down car wash to a game of Kablowey with kids and adults alike going for broke.
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Jennifer Garner stars and also produces the new Netflix family comedy "Yes Day," based on the children's book. (Photo: MATT KENNEDY/NETFLIX)
“She’s a balloon shark,” Arteta says of Garner’s water balloon skills. “She nailed those kids over and over.” But in addition to a competitive streak, Arteta saw her nurturing side throughout the production, including a bonding session at a Build-a-Bear Workshop. “She’s literally the kind of star that will wake up early and make muffins for everybody in the crew.”
Garner, who’s also a producer, wanted to make the film because she’s been doing Yes Days with her own youngsters – Violet, 15; Seraphina, 12; and Samuel, 9, all with ex Ben Affleck – since Seraphina became obsessed with Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld’s children’s book “Yes Day!” nine years ago.
Jennifer Garner poses with her children Violet Affleck, Seraphina Rose Elizabeth Affleck and Samuel Garner Affleck at her star ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018. (Photo: ROBYN BECK, AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
The actress, 48, recounts being put through the wringer during production, which involved her eating ice cream for three days straight (while delicious, “I got tired of that”), singing in front of a crowd of people (“I get very, very nervous. It’s not something you see me doing”) and riding “the scariest roller coaster I’ve ever been on in my whole life” several times.
The fear on her face “was so not acting,” Garner says. One take wasn’t even usable “because I was crying (and) gripping my sweet co-star Jenna Ortega’s hand so hard that she couldn’t feel her fingers after. I screamed, ‘Jenna, Jenna, Jenna!’ Her character’s name is Katie. So, yes, that wasn’t my best day.”
When it comes to Garner’s Yes Day family tradition at home, “nothing is as crazy,” she says: They’re always in the summer, and usually she and her kids start the day with ice cream – think a scoop paired with waffles for breakfast – and end in a backyard tent for flashlight tag and s’mores. However, “the older they get, the more they spend their Yes Days plotting against their mother.”
Carlos (Edgar Ramirez) and Allison Torres (Jennifer Garner) hit up an intense car wash with their kids (Jenna Ortega, Everly Carganilla and Julian Lerner) in Netflix's "Yes Day." (Photo: NETFLIX)
One “torture” Garner’s children came up with was taking mom to a rock-climbing center. “I mean, I used to literally jump off buildings on ‘Alias’ or hang from a helicopter, do the craziest things,” she says. “And now that I’m older, I just get a little more nervous about heights.”
In Netflix’s “Yes Day,” Garner’s character always said ‘yes’ as a young woman and then began to start saying ‘no’ when she became a mom. The actress can relate.
“I remember thinking when I was pregnant with my first child (Violet) that I would just say, ‘Yes, this kid will grow up on set. It won’t bother me. I will travel. I’ll do whatever,’ ” she says. “And then the second I had her, I was just like, ‘Wait a minute, I can’t go to work!’ Ben really encouraged me to just push through the struggle of it and I’m so grateful to him for that. I could have stopped and been at home very, very happily. But I think I would have missed that part of myself.”
Allison (Jennifer Garner, center) rules the Kablowey field in Netflix's "Yes Day." (Photo: MATT KENNEDY/NETFLIX)
Garner just finished filming the Netflix sci-fi drama “The Adam Project” with Ryan Reynolds and Mark Ruffalo in Vancouver – “the longest I’d ever been away from my kids by times four, maybe five,” Garner says. As for her kids, her youngest two are already back in school and Violet is a couple weeks from going back to her high school. And the whole family’s kept up their spirits through COVID.
“One thing I’ve talked to my kids about a lot is that we think we’ve come to the end of our rope and then you just push through it and you kind of start again. And you say, ‘Well, this is what it is and we’re in the best possible, lucky position anyone could be in during this time,’ ” Garner says.
Since the coronavirus hit and lockdown started last March, she’s learned that it can feel good to spend time with herself at home.
In the year before the pandemic, while the children stayed with Affleck, she spent a lot of time away working. “It was kind of good for me to ground myself again and to realize that I’m fine being in the house by myself if my kids are with their dad. And I am OK not traveling. It actually felt great.”
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