Why Does Jennifer Garner Resort To Work That's Beneath Her?

Why does Golden Globe award-winning actress and four-time Emmy nominee Jennifer Garner continue to take work that isn't worthy of her talent? While we all loved her in 2004's 13 Going on 30, that was more than a decade ago. Since then she's had a few small roles in acclaimed films like Dallas Buyers Club, but other than that, her filmography has mostly expanded to include a lot of subpar family-friendly films and Neutrogena commercials. Did motherhood change the way she approaches work? Here's why Jennifer Garner resorts to projects that are obviously beneath her.

Her kids have influenced the way she selects films

In Garner's 2016 release Nine Lives, Kevin Spacey plays a distant father who dedicates more time to his career than his kids, and is trapped in a cat's body until he truly realizes the importance of family. While the cast is actually pretty impressive—it also includes Christopher Walken and Curb Your Enthusiasm's Cheryl Hines—it's not exactly an Oscar contender. As further evidenced by her work in The Odd Life of Timothy Green and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Garner is clearly placing an emphasis on films that can be described as "perfect for the whole family." This could be because the mother of three—Violet, 10, Seraphina, 7, and Samuel, 4—wants to be in movies she can actually see with her kids.

She's the No. 1 spokeswoman in the U.S.

If you think you've been seeing Garner in more commercials lately (such as in her campaigns for Capital One and Neutrogena), it could be because she's very, very good at pitching products. According to the Nielsen ratings, Garner was ranked the fourth most-liked celebrity endorser—and the number one female celebrity endorser—during the first quarter of 2015. It's easy to understand why she'd want to join the growing number of A-listers appearing in TV commercials, a group that includes busy stars like Amy Poehler, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Amy Schumer. Even Brad Pitt and his goatee performed some spoken-word poetry for Chanel No. 5. Commercials can make actors big money, especially if you're a huge star: aaccording to E! News, Jerry Seinfeld made about $10 million for his Microsoft commercials. Commercials are also not nearly the time commitment required by a film or TV show, which leaves Garner able to be with her family. She once said she's never been away from her kids for more than four days.

Valentine's Day was good money for less work

Because Garner is busy co-parenting with her ex Ben Affleck, she can't spend as much time on more independent, artistic films that pay less—which is why it's appealing for her to take roles in big budget, star-studded films like Valentine's Day. According to The Daily Beast, producers were able to assemble their A-list cast by "boarding," which is when actors work on a film for only a short period of time, usually a few days, and their scenes are blocked out for a quicker shoot. Garner only had to be on set for about three days, and made her usual quote, which is around $7 million per role, pro-rated for the days she filmed.

Commercial work allows her time for passion projects

Garner has also recently been able to take on some projects she's more personally invested in, like Miracles from Heaven, based on Christy Beam's 2015 memoir of the same name. Garner told Vanity Fair, "The book kept me up all night. It was so compelling and tangible. Her pain, the daughter's pain, what it did to the family. Christy was so steadfast; she didn't try to whitewash what was wrong with her daughter. She was next to her helping her know she was strong enough to get through it, and I wanted to be in her skin." Miracles from Heaven wasn't a huge hit with critics; however, many agreed that Garner's performance was one of its strongest components.

She's had to make room for Ben Affleck's career

Us Magazine reported that Garner told press at a Beverly Hills event promoting her film Danny Collins that she's been "home for a long time," supporting her (now ex-) husband Ben Affleck's career. "It's my turn and I'm going to go to work this spring," she said. "I think I'll work the spring and summer, maybe the fall too, as long as some of it's at home. I don't think my deals are done yet so I can't say, but yeah, I'm about to go to work." Affleck, in a 2013 interview with Playboy, credits Garner for his career success, telling the magazine, "Getting to know [Garner], falling in love with her and being connected with her gave me a foundation to reach out and say, 'Okay, I'm going to do Hollywoodland; I'm going to direct Gone Baby Gone.' Those were the steps forward I needed to put positive stuff on the board. She is by leaps and bounds the most important person to me in that respect. Over the past 10 years she has allowed me to have a stable home life while accomplishing my professional goals." Now that she and Ben are taking time for themselves—the two announced their divorce last year, but haven't officially filed paperwork—maybe this means we can expect to see Garner taking on bigger and better projects.

The meaty roles aren't available to her

Forbes has argued that the reason Garner never recovered from the high-profile flop Elektra, which she was contractually obligated to do after appearing in Daredevil, is that meatier lead roles are simply not available to her the way they are to Affleck—or other men in Hollywood. She's mainly played the love interest, often in underwhelming films like Ghost of Girlfriends Past and The Invention of Lying, or a mother, as she did in The Odd Life of Timothy Green. These supporting roles have made it tougher to mount the comeback she deserves, but things may yet turn around: Garner's upcoming projects include Wakefield with Bryan Cranston and a rumored part in the Mila Kunis action comedy Jackpot.