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Jennifer Garner’s Emotional Journey in Making 'Miracles From Heaven'

In the film "Miracles From Heaven," Jennifer Garner portrays Christy Beam, a mother whose 10-year-old daughter is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and then miraculously cured after surviving an accident. On the surface, it seems as if Garner would have an easy time inhabiting the role of a mom of three; after all, the actress is mother to Violet, 10; Seraphina, 7; and Samuel, 3. Not only that, but the 43-year-old actress was also going through her own emotional journey while filming, which came on the heels of splitting from long-time husband Ben Affleck.

But Garner says the film — which is based on Beam's real-life memoir and opens in theaters on March 16 — was an emotional journey that gave her new perspective on parenting and renewed gratitude for the well-being of her own children. During a recent roundtable interview, mom.me got the chance to talk to Garner about the film and why she's hesitant to let her own children see her in this role.

MORE: Celebrity Mom Style — Jennifer Garner

Being a mother of three yourself, did making this movie change your outlook on life?

I would say that playing Christy and being in the environment she was in — even though it was pretend — and being faced with the things that she's been faced with, gave me a great sense of perspective and a sense of peace that my children are healthy and all is well.

What was your initial reaction to the script?

I stayed up all night. I felt sick. Don't you? Did you even know that pseudo-obstruction motility disorder was a thing that children are suffering from right now, and moms are sitting next to them while their kids go in for their twelfth colonoscopy of the year?

I just think it would be hard for [my kids] to see me that sad.

How did you prepare for such an emotional role?

One of the tricky things was calibrating the emotions. But you prepare for it like you prepare for anything else. You prepare as much as you can in great detail so that every moment feels like — not to talk actor speak, but — intentional and that there's a clear path that you're going on as this character. And then emotionally, you just have to let her rip.

How did you form the character, since it's based on a real person?

I spent a lot of time (and still do) with Christy. The more time I spend with her, the more I genuinely like her. We've had long-ranging conversations that covered every topic from "Are your nails usually long, short, natural?" to "Was your hair blown out all the time?" to "What do you call your kids, and what are your nicknames for them?"

I have a playlist on my phone that I still listen to, of her favorite hymns and church songs that were definitely inspirational, and she was an enormous guide.

Are you going to take your kids to see the movie?

Two things: I'm their mom. Kylie [actress Kylie Rogers, who plays Garner's daughter] and I are so close, and I think it would be strange for them to see me being that close to someone else. I've played moms and they've seen me [play] moms and they've had a lot of fun with that, but I love that little girl and I think that's tricky for children. And the other thing is, I just think it would be hard for them to see me that sad.

I do think that it's a great thing for a mom, dad and family to see together — that is something I would encourage. It's a great conversation starter — not just about faith, but about adversity and about family and love and hope and pushing through a challenge.

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