LOS ANGELES -- Actress Jennifer Garner loves being a mom so much, she jokes that if husband Ben Affleck were in the hotel room with her during the interview they might skip the questions and start working on a fourth child.
Luckily, Affleck is at home taking care of the children while Garner talks about her latest film, "The Odd Life of Timothy Green."
She's not certain whether her maternal instincts are what lead her to play characters in both "Juno" and "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" who are unable to have children. Garner says she has great empathy for women in such a position.
"All I have to do is think about what they go through, and it brings me to tears," Garner says. "I have such respect for them. I think it is true that a family doesn't have to be traditional. You can make a family out of any different way that it works."
"Juno" looked at the alternative of adoption, while "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" looks at what happens when a couple grow a 10-year-old boy -- played by CJ Adams -- in their garden.
Garner's mommy instincts are so acute, the simple fact she played CJ's mom means that she will keep up with the young actor the rest of his life.
This on-screen maternal bond appears to work both ways. One of Garner's first roles, when she was 22, was in the 1995 TV movie "Zoya" where she played Melissa Gilbert's daughter. The pair remain in touch to this day.
"You can't play a kid's mom for three months and help them go through that process without becoming committed to them," Garner says.
The theme of "Odd Life" centers on the gifts parents give to their children, and it's not the kind wrapped in fancy paper. The greatest gift Garner got from her parents was the freedom to be who she wanted to be.
"They let me be alone and dream and write my little books," Garner says. "My dad let me dance all the time. I would dance all the time at the Charleston (W. Va.) Light Opera Guild, which is a community theater, and that's all I did. When I went to college and changed my major to theater -- not even thinking I would be an actor -- he paid for it.
"I'm not talking about that they facilitated me becoming an actor. I'm talking about they let me discover what I loved and they facilitated that. That it happened to turn into a career is just a weird happenstance."
Even the amount of time Garner is putting into the promotion of the movie is based on being a mom. She's upset that there aren't more family-friendly movies like "The Odd Life" in theaters.
Although she became known through the TV series "Alias," in recent years, Garner has concentrated on a film career with "Valentine's Day," "Arthur" and "The Invention of Lying." Garner says she would do a television series again, but not at this time because of the long working hours. She plans to stay away from anything that keeps her too long from her much-loved duties as mom.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org
or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.