"Everywhere we went was just such a circus."

Arielle Tschinkel
Oct 21, 2020 @ 10:41 am
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Credit: Jason Merritt/TERM, Getty Images

Jennifer Garner has been famous for nearly 20 years, but she just opened up about one of the most overwhelming aspects of being a person in the public eye: the presence of paparazzi and how scary it can feel to be followed by men with cameras when you’re with your children.

In an appearance on PBS' Tell Me More With Kelly Corrigan, Garner shared that during her marriage to Ben Affleck, there was constant paparazzi presence following her and her family. “For 10 years, there were at the very least six cars and often 20 outside of our house, and outside of school, and at the pediatrician's. And you're begging them, ‘Please step aside from the pediatrician's door. I have a sick kid. Please,’” she shared.

Opening up about the kind of attention they’d receive, she called it “so crazy,” adding, “Who cares about some dumb celebrity problem? Unless it's your child going through it, it's not worth anyone's attention or bother."

"It's a cost of doing business but it just got to be ridiculous," Garner said.

Not only was it seemingly invasive, Garner shared that the attention became downright unsafe, too. “They were causing car accidents all the time,” she recalled. "I'd go through a yellow light and there would be 15 cars that would go through the red light without compunction. Everywhere we went was just such a circus."

When one of her daughters wanted to play soccer, the Love, Simon star shared, “it was such a zoo for the families that they just said, 'Can you please not?'"

The paparazzi and media attention also seemingly impacted her relationship with her ex-husband Affleck. She revealed, "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 [news reports] 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 [the attention] will die down for a second," she explained.

She added, “you’re always kind of chasing peace, and because it’s already been in print, it feels like it’s a done deal already—whatever it is.”

The escalation continues with headlines like “wedding watch,” “pregnancy watch,” and more, “and then it's immediately, 'Trouble in paradise.' And it becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy,” she said.

As for how she handles that scrutiny now, Garner simply doesn’t engage with celebrity news. “The most powerful decision I have made for myself was to never ever put myself at risk of seeing my own image or a story about me, which is not easy," she says. "It means I cannot look at anything because CNN has celebrity stuff. I can't have an Apple News feed, I can't look at The Huffington Post...I just had to be completely disciplined about it and I am."

It certainly doesn’t sound easy, but it sounds like Garner has found ways to minimize the impact media attention has had on her own personal well-being. Paparazzi and tabloid attention is one of the most insidious parts of celebrity culture, and we hope she’s able to find as much freedom from it for her family as she can.