Jennifer Garner on Ben Affleck and the Nanny: ‘He Can Cast Quite a Shadow’
The actress opened up about her scandalous split from Oscar-winning husband Ben Affleck—and, of course, nannygate.
No one wants anything bad to happen to two beautiful, flawlessly-orthodontured white people who named their children Violet, Seraphina, and Samuel. Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck probably assumed that the worst misfortune to ever befall them would be the fact that they inadvertently named their middle child after a string of high-end Italian restaurants in New York City where middle school mean girls go to share a pizza six ways and talk about their latest crushes.
Little did Hollywood’s most inoffensive couple know that they were about to get smacked upside the face by a kween named Christine Ouzounian. For those of you who weren’t avidly following nannygate, Ouzounian used to take care of Garner and Affleck’s kids. To phrase it tactfully, Ouzounian is a former nanny in the same way that Monica Lewinsky is a former White House intern. The 28-year-old allegedly embarked on a sexual relationship with Affleck in the crucial period after separation, but before divorce. It’s during this difficult time that an A-list husband often pursues a comfort that money can’t buy him, by seducing somebody that he is already paying to act as a maternal figure for his impressionable young children. Celebrities, they’re just like us: horrible.
Naturally, Bennifer’s official split on the heels of nannygate sparked a worldwide condemnation of a powerful man reaching for the conveniently placed hired help as if she were a particularly shiny fruit bowl or easily pocketed hand soap—kidding, a lot of people called Ouzounian a slut and now Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne. Apparently, you have to literally be Nick Dunne from Gone Girl to face any repercussions from lying to your wife and giving up on your marriage.
Luckily, Ouzounian quickly proved herself to be the super(other)woman that Gotham deserves. In the wake of her scarlet letter branding, the Arizona State University graduate milked her free press like a Vine star on Ellen. Not since the Kardashians decided that childbirth was fair game for reality television has one woman’s pain (fired from her job, dumped by her boss, mired in scandal) been so pleasurable to watch. Not only did Ouzounian rack up a $12,000 bill after six days at The Hotel Bel-Air, where her former employers bankrolled her in a mistaken attempt to keep her out of the spotlight; she also showed up at Affleck’s house in the middle of the night with a bottle of Veuve, just as the movie star and his PR team were busy insisting that Affleck did not have sex with that nanny. But Christine’s stride of pride didn’t end there. She was photographed on a private plane with Tom Brady, Brady’s Super Bowl rings stacked on her delicate fingers. She dined outside at Hollywood’s most buzzworthy restaurants, and made paparazzi salivate with a well-timed bikini romp.
As any unpaid social media intern will tell you, Instagram is a great, cheap way of repeatedly hitting the general public over the head with your curated brand. Bennifer II may have had the best PR team that money can buy, but Ouzounian maintained the kind of social media account you could really see yourself sharing a bottle of Pinot with. In the midst of the scandal, she ostentatiously Instagram’d a flawless solo paparazzi pic, captioned, “‘She’s just a girl and she’s on fire’—Alicia Keys.” Take R&B icon Alicia Keys, mix her with a known adulteress and a self-published power stance, and you’ve got strong “Hester Prynne with a smartphone” glam.
All this is to say that Christine Ouzounian is the kind of girl you’d want to get drunch with. Jennifer Garner, on the other hand, is the last person you’d want to run into in the morning when you’re still wearing your clothes from last night. Garner further illustrated this binary in a new exclusive interview with Vanity Fair, where “one of the most respected public mothers in America” dished on her self-named “year of wine.” The quotes ranged from predictable to vaguely charming. Garner explained that, “It was a real marriage…It wasn’t for the cameras. And it was a huge priority for me to stay in it. And that did not work.” And then she got into it.
On the nanny: “‘We had been separated for months before I ever heard about the nanny. She had nothing to do with our decision to divorce. She was not a part of the equation. Bad judgment? Yes. It’s not great for your kids for [a nanny] to disappear from their lives.’ Months later, she’s still assessing the damage. ‘I have had to have conversations about the meaning of ‘scandal,’’ she says, with her children.”
On ‘unplugging’ from tabloid drama: “Ben says, ‘Oh, you just don’t care,’ and I say, ‘No, it’s the opposite. It hurts me so much, and I care so much,’ she says, choosing to not ‘give a shit’ how the divorce looks to the outside world. ‘I cannot be driven by the optics of this. I cannot let anger or hurt be my engine. I need to move with the big picture always on my mind, and the kids first and foremost.’”
On Ben: “He’s the love of my life. What am I going to do about that? He’s the most brilliant person in any room, the most charismatic, the most generous. He’s just a complicated guy. I always say, ‘When his sun shines on you, you feel it.’ But when the sun is shining elsewhere, it’s cold. He can cast quite a shadow.”
On Ben and “The Truth”: “He’s still the only person who really knows the truth about things. And I’m still the only person that knows some of his truths.”
On returning to sex scenes: “‘When you haven’t been kissed for over eight months,’ she says, ‘it’s strange. But it’s my job. It’s nine in the morning and you think, I could really use a shot of alcohol.’”
On dating again: “I don’t know. It’s just that [from] everyone that I know that is dating it just seems, well…. Men don’t call anymore…. I want flowers; I don’t want to text. What does that make me? What kind of dinosaur am I?”
On Ben Affleck’s huge Phoenix tattoo: “One thing is for sure: she refuses to claim responsibility for the midlife-crisis tattoo—the rising phoenix—that takes up her estranged husband’s entire back, as seen in photographs. ‘You know what we would say in my hometown about that? ‘Bless his heart.’ A phoenix rising from the ashes. Am I the ashes in this scenario?’ Garner says with a wink. ‘I take umbrage. I refuse to be the ashes.’”
Classic Garner, glossing over a traumatic period in her life with grace and poise—so very un-Christine Ouzounian.