It was easy for Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell to slip into their roles in the new family comedy "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."
"We are both parents," Garner says. "Not together, but apart."
"And we're the BEST parents," Carell adds.
They definitely needed all of their parenting skills to play the mom and dad to a young boy who makes a birthday wish that his family has a bad day. And, by bad day, that means wrecking the family car, destroying a high school play production, making Dick Van Dyke mad and ruining a prom date.
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The production -- based on the best-selling children's book of the same name -- shows how family support helps with the worst of days. This is where Garner and Carell counted on their own life experiences: Garner has three children and Carell has two.
"We would pipe up and make our thoughts known," Garner says.
"If anything rang false to us, we would speak up," Carell continues. "More often than not things felt like they would feel in our houses."
Garner calls playing a parent a continuing process -- something that's not that different from being a real parent.
"Have I cracked what it is to be a great mom? No. But, that's the great thing about being a parent. Every day is a fresh start where you can always say, 'Today, let's try this.' If it goes horribly, then you can go, 'Today, we're throwing that out.' That's part of what I like about being a mom in general," Garner says.
Being cast as a mom is rather new for Garner, whose career is filled with action and romantic comedy roles. Some actors might be upset by going from the femme fatale to the mundane mom, but she embraces the casting.
Carell enjoyed working with Garner enough that he has no trouble picking on her. As for any terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days while filming the movie, Garner begins to talk about one day when they were filming outdoors and it was hot. Carell sarcastically says, "Oh, we were SO hot. We were making a movie and got hot. How sad."
Garner smiles at Carell and embarrassingly says, "Thank you, Steve."
Carell smiles back, "Right under the bus."