More often than not, when you write about celebrities, you are inevitably writing about a brand. A front. Or an illusion.
You don’t know them, they don’t know you, and what you’re writing about is actually, well, a character. This elusive line separating personal from private, the person you are writing about is often as contrived and constructed as the characters they play in their movies.
So when Jennifer Garner this week was interviewed by Krista Smith for Vanity Fair, her bold candour about her divorce and her heart and her children made her audience believe, that maybe, for once, we were accessing Jennifer Garner the person rather than Jennifer Garner the brand.
And open she was.
A “year of wine” she described the last few months, dealing with the fall out of what was arguably one of the highest profile break-ups of 2015.
But it is her description of Affleck, and their demise, that reinforces the idea that fame and wealth and love aren’t mutually exclusive. And a high-profile marriage can be as real and as genuine as yours or mine.
“I didn’t marry the big fat movie star,” she told Smith. “I married him.”
“And I would go back and remake that decision. I ran down the beach to him, and I would again.”
So what about now? How does she sit with it all? For Garner, it seems, she’s still navigating that.
“He’s the love of my life. What am I going to do about that?
“He’s the most brilliant person in any room, the most charismatic, the most generous. He’s just a complicated guy. I always say, ‘When his sun shines on you, you feel it.’ But when the sun is shining elsewhere, it’s cold. He can cast quite a shadow.”
For the lowly, common-folk like you or I, at a glance, Hollywood marriages appear to lack the promise of forever that they’re inherently supposed to be built on. 5 years? Great run. 10? Well, that’s basically a lifetime, isn’t it?
But for Garner, she acknowledged to Smith that this isn’t where she thought she’d end up. Not by a long shot.
“Of course this is not what I imagined when I ran down the beach, but it is where I am,” she said.
“We still have to help each other get through this. He’s still the only person who really knows the truth about things. And I’m still the only person that knows some of his truths.”
For now, however, she’s taking a step back and putting her faith in her hobbies and habits of her youth.
“When the earth shakes,” she said, “you go to what you know from childhood.
Watch: The Mamamia Team confess the moment they knew their relationship was over. (Post continues after video.)
“All of a sudden I’m sitting down at the piano. I went back to church. I sat down and wrote bad poetry all day because I was so sad.”
It’ll be a while, she says, before she looks forward far enough to consider dating.
“I don’t know. It’s just that [from] everyone that I know that is dating it just seems, well…. Men don’t call anymore…. I want flowers; I don’t want to text. What does that make me? What kind of dinosaur am I?”
At the moment for Garner, like anyone mourning the loss of a marriage and family and a great love, nostalgia is all-consuming as she navigates the dreams she lost. And the one that sticks out significantly?
“I lost the dream of dancing with my husband at my daughter’s wedding,” she said.
You can read the full interview with Vanity Fair here.