Being a celebrity certainly has its perks, but Jennifer Garner just got real about the downside of fame. During an appearance on PBS’ Tell Me More With Kelly Corrigan, the actress opened up about what it was like being followed by paparazzi 24/7 during her marriage to Ben Affleck.
“Well, 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,” Garner recalled. “And you’re begging them, ‘Please step aside from the pediatrician’s door, I have a sick kid. Please.’ Who cares about some dumb celebrity problem? It really is a celebrity problem. Unless it’s your child going through it, it’s not worth anyone’s attention or bother.”
Garner and Affleck, who separated in 2015, share three children: Violet, 14, Seraphina, 11, and Samuel, 8. The Camping star called the attention they received “so crazy.”
“It’s a cost of doing business, but it just got to be ridiculous where they were causing car accidents all the time,” Garner added. “I’d go through a yellow light and there would be 15 cars that would go through the red light without compunction. Anywhere that we went it was a total circus.”
The Alias alum said it affected their children’s ability to do regular things, like play soccer. “It was such a zoo for the families that they just said, ‘Can you please not?’”
Garner had local sheriffs and police officers to her house years ago to try and explain what was happening. Her daughter, age 5 at the time, spoke to them about “what it’s like to be a little kid and to have all these huge cameras running toward you, running toward your mom, running after you when you go to school and having other kids scared of it, or pointing at it, or looking at it.
“‘And I’m scared of them,’” Garner recalled her little girl saying. “‘They look like guns.’”
Halle Berry and Garner helped lead the charge to make it illegal for paparazzi to photograph children without their legal guardian’s permission.
“It did make a huge difference,” Garner shared.
“One of the paparazzi — I just loathe them so much and what they do — but there are a couple of them that have been with me for so long. They’ve been assigned to me for 15 years. One of them said to me one day, ‘You don’t know how much we love watching you with your children. You don't know how much we respect you,’” she revealed. “They do know me better than anyone knows me. They go everywhere I go, they’ve seen me strap kids into cars, they’ve seen me pregnant, they’ve seen me at the store… I was so taken aback by how much that struck me.”
The Love, Simon actress was asked if she thinks that kind of intense scrutiny is why it’s hard to stay married in Hollywood. Garner, who finalized her divorce from Affleck in 2018, explained how tabloids can act like a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”
“I think there’s something about seeing yourselves reflected in news of some kind… whether it’s true or not,” Garner shared. “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.”
Garner continued, “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... And then it’s immediately, ‘Trouble in paradise.’ And it becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Now, Garner won’t engage in celebrity news.
“The most powerful decision I have made for myself was to never ever, ever put myself at risk of seeing my own image or a story about me, which is not easy,” she said. “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 Huffington Post... You would see stuff and go down a rabbit hole... I just had to be completely disciplined about it and I am.”
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