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Jennifer Garner opens up about paparazzi hounding her family, divorce in Hollywood

The actor reflects on the role that the paparazzi have played in her family's lives.
Jennifer Garner sat down with PBS for a candid interview.
Jennifer Garner sat down with PBS for a candid interview.PBS
/ Source: TODAY

Jennifer Garner knows a thing or two about being followed by paparazzi during the best and worst times of her life.

The actor, 48, has had a complicated relationship with paparazzi throughout her career, and her family got a barrage of attention from them while she was going through a divorce with Ben Affleck. Garner opened up about this experience and recalled the ways she's tried to protect her children's privacy in a new interview with PBS' Kelly Corrigan.

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"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," the mother of three explained. "And you're begging them, 'Please step aside from the pediatrician's door. I have a sick kid, please.'"

As a public figure, Garner realizes the paparazzi will follow her around, but she's had a difficult time accepting the way they have hounded her family over the years.

"It's the cost of doing business, but it just got to be ridiculous, where they were causing car accidents all the time," she recalled. "Anywhere that we went, it was a total circus."

Case in point? When Garner's young daughter attempted to play on a soccer team years ago, the paparazzi quickly followed the family to the field and caused a commotion that made other families uncomfortable.

"It was such a zoo for the families that they just said, 'Can you please not (play)?'" she said.

Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry
Jennifer Garner, right, describes how paparazzi aggressively follow her and her three children daily, while testifying before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in support of a bill that would limit the ability of paparazzi to photograph children of celebrities and public figures on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013.AP

At this point, other celebrity families were dealing with the same level of chaos, and many of them put their heads together to try to create change.

"Celebrities would gather and talk about this problem and talk about: 'What are we going to do? How can we work together?' And we'd hire lawyers, but it was a really tricky one because it's freedom of speech," Garner explained.

When Halle Berry suggested that paparazzi who followed celebrity children around were basically "lying in wait," something clicked for Garner, and she decided to join forces with the actor in an attempt to get legislation passed to protect her children.

"Halle Berry, she really pushed it through," Garner said. "I was part of that in a small way. I really give all the credit to Halle. I went to testify in front of our state government. Our state senator, (Kevin) de Leon, he championed it. The law passed, and it did make a huge difference."

During her candid chat, Garner also reflected on marriage in Hollywood and acknowledged that it's not easy to maintain a healthy relationship while you're living in the public eye.

"I think there's something about seeing yourselves reflected in news of some kind," she said. "And whether it's true or not, if it's true and you are starting to be serious with someone and (the media) start saying, 'Well when are they gonna be engaged?' It's almost like you just wanna get there so that you can complete that, and then maybe it'll die down for a second."

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Garner said being in a relationship in the public eye felt like she was always "chasing peace," and she admitted that reading false stories, like about trouble in a marriage, sometimes "feels like it's a done deal."

"It becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy," she said.

Still, she acknowledged that being famous isn't all that bad.

"For me, you have to find what's gonna fit in the equation to balance it out," she said. "I do get to have access into people's homes and lives, and I do get to meet people I never would have thought. You just have to figure out what's going to make it OK for you."