LOS ANGELES — Jennifer Garner can hold her own in a male-dominated environment, even on the set of a sports-themed Kevin Costner movie surrounded by real-life NFL players.
It’s a trait that served her well in her role as Ali, the strong-willed and capable salary cap manager of the Cleveland Browns who also happens to be the girlfriend of the team’s beleagured general manager, Sonny Weaver Jr., played by Costner, in “Draft Day,” released this week on DVD and Blu-ray.
“I love my character,” the beaming brunette told a group of reporters during an April junket hosted by Summit Entertainment at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills Hotel.
“I wish that I was as smart as Ali for a day,” Garner said. “But I do think that she’s a woman in a man’s world, and she does it seamlessly. And I had the privilege of shadowing Megan Rogers of the Cleveland Browns, who is the capologist there. And I just basically stole everything from her, from what she carried in her arms to the way she dressed, how she comported herself. Megan is someone who never needs to show you that she knows everything. She just just holds it inside and, if necessary, she brings down the hammer.
“So that’s what I loved about Ali. I think that makes women so great in these positions on sports teams or NFL overall, is that they can keep their emotions in check, and their brains can do a lot of things at once. Because if you’re gonna be a capologist, you’re basically business affairs, plus you’re thinking of the art of football, plus you’re thinking what’s your team’s future, what’s been important in the past. You have to have so much going on in your brain at once and let’s face it, we’re just good at that.”
But in “Draft Day,” Garner’s character is also balancing business with the troubled affair she’s having with her boss, who is dealing with serious conflicts of his own that threaten not only his personal welfare but the immediate welfare of his team.
Former high school jock Costner has fared well with sports-themed movies in the past, with three cinematic homers, including “Bull Durham” (1988), “Field of Dreams” (1989) and “For Love of the Game” (1999). He will play a high school track coach in “McFarland USA,” due in February.
“Draft Day” is Costner’s first football film, with its story taking place on the crucial first day of the NFL draft. It’s directed by Ivan Reitman from a screenplay by Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman, and was filmed in the actual headquarters of the Cleveland Browns.
In fact, the Browns and the NFL offered their complete cooperation to the filmmakers, which lends technical accuracy to the proceedings.
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