Jennifer Garner on How Her Mother Grew Up in Poverty, Fame and Being Married in Hollywood

Jennifer Garner at the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards
Steve Granitz/WireImage

The actress sat down for an intimate talk with Kelly Corrigan for PBS.

Jennifer Garner is opening up like never before. The actress sat down for an intimate sit down on the Tell Me More With Kelly Corrigan show, where she talked about paparazzi, being a single mom and how her mother grew up in poverty.

"My mom grew up really poor in Locust Grover, Oklahoma, on a farm. I think my mom was so poor, it's just unbelievable that she managed to leave," Garner told Kelly Corrigan. "As a matter of fact, when I moved to New York after college, my mom said, 'Jennifer, no matter what you do, it will never be as big of a deal as it was for me to leave that farm.'"

Garner, who grew up in West Virginia, shared that she asked her mother if it bothered her to have her daughter talk about growing up poor.

"She said, 'I'm never ashamed of growing up poor. Rather, I am amazed by the grace and dignity that my parents had throughout my childhood,'" Garner shared, later adding that her mother always aspired to travel after babysitting kids and reading Life magazine.

"Now she has been to 50 states and to seven continents," she shared.

Garner, meanwhile, has since become one of the biggest movie stars and touched on acting and some of the hardest moments in her career. While she called her Alias role one that "fundamentally changed" her, she shared that she's now looking for roles that "feel good to put out in the world."

She explained that she has been offered a lot of dark roles and Dallas Buyers Club was a project that was a turning point, as her agents told her she should take the role or retire from acting since she had taken a lot of time off.

That role was a difficult one, as she had just given birth to her third child and still breastfeeding. She almost quit mid-shoot because she was struggling with her feelings of being away from her kids so much, and because they shot the film so fast she didn't get breaks to pump and was in pain. However, she credits co-star Matthew McConaughey for helping her during that time. "How much do I love that guy," she added.

As for her three children -- Violet, 14, Seraphina, 11 and Samuel, 8 -- with ex-husband Ben Affleck, she explained that she worries about them and being followed by the paparazzi.

"My one daughter tried to play soccer and it's such a zoo for the families that they just said, 'Can you please not?'" she recalled, sharing that one of her daughters wrote a letter about being scared to be followed by cameras.

When asked if this was part of why marriages in Hollywood are so difficult, she replied, "I think there's something about seeing yourselves reflected in news of some kind -- and whether it's true or not."

"If it's true and you are starting to be serious with someone and they start saying, 'Well, when are they gonna be engaged?,' It's almost like you just want to get  there so that you can complete that and just maybe it will die down for a second," she explained, adding it's the same of when people start asking about wedding plans, baby plans and more. "And then it's immediately, 'Trouble in paradise.' And it becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Garner and Affleck tied the knot in 2005. They announced their split in June 2015, but didn't officially divorce until November 2018. Though their marriage is over, the pair consider each other family and have been widely complimentary of one another as they co-parent their children amid the ups and downs of Affleck's struggle with sobriety.

It was when Garner was working on 13 Going on 30 that her director, Gary Winick, suggested she get involved with Al-Anon, a group for people living with addicts. Getting into the program helped her figure out what parts of the struggle are "just not my business."

She noted that the program is not about the addict, but about "what you need to do to show up for yourself and that changes the dance."

Meanwhile, Garner concluded her conversation by also noting that one of her biggest fears for her kids growing up in this time is sadness.

"Aren't you so worried that your kids, being home-schooled and alone, are going to be sad and carry that sadness with them?" she asked Corrigan.

For more on Garner, see below.