When we asked PEOPLE.com readers what they wanted to hear from Jennifer Garner, more than 1,100 questions poured in, pleasantly surprising the star of the new romantic comedy-drama Catch and Release. “Wow!” said Garner. “Thank you, readers!” Curled up on a Santa Monica hotel-room couch, Garner, 34, talked to correspondent Alexis Chiu about downtime with her and husband Ben Affleck’s 1-year-old daughter Violet, her essential comfort foods and how her skin gets that Garner-ific glow.
What is your favorite thing about being a mom?–Jessica Ross, Independence, Ky.
Having a new little pal who goes with me wherever I go.
Your skin is always so beautiful. Do you use anything special?–Janet Orfitelli, Southington, Conn.
Thanks! I always have really good hair and makeup done before an appearance, so don’t think that my skin is perfect. But I try to take care of it by getting enough sleep and not drinking too much coffee or alcohol. And I have a great facialist. If you’re ever in L.A. and want to treat yourself, her name is Nerida Joy and she’s magic.
What’s it like balancing work and being a new mom?–Catrina Carroll, Pearland, Texas
It’s definitely a struggle. You’re pulled in so many directions, and you want to do 100 percent everywhere. My sisters (Melissa, 38, and Susannah, 32) are working moms, and so are my friends. Any working mom – it’s hard for all of us.
How was it working on Catch and Release while you were pregnant?– Caroline Slyman, Pittsfield, Maine
It was actually perfect timing. It was in between nausea and getting big, and I felt really emotional, so I could cry easily if I needed to.
How have you managed to keep in shape after the show (Alias) and after giving birth to your first child?–Heather Dee, Seattle
I wasn’t that into getting back into shape; I was so all about being with my baby. (Then) I started missing the energy you get from being in shape. I resented my friends who said it melted off. It did not melt off! I had to get on the treadmill and do weights and Pilates – and stop eating yummy things. It was a pain. It was not a magic formula.
How much does your West Virginia upbringing influence the way you are raising your daughter?–Kirstin Osgood-Harrison, Wichita Falls, Texas
You know the whole it-takes-a-village thing? A village raised the kids in our community, whether it was the ballet teacher or our friends’ moms or church. It was a loving place to grow up. Hopefully I’ll create that for my daughter.
Would you ever consider moving back to West Virginia?–Chasiti Flint, Wayne, West Va. Oh, hello, Chasiti from Wayne! I do think about moving back. It’s hard to do my job from West Virginia; it’s a hard place to get into and get out of, which is one of the things I love about it. But it makes it hard to imagine that being home base. Maybe someday. I wouldn’t be surprised – I love it.
In your new movie your character deals with painful moments. During times of hardship in your life, what has kept you going?–Lisa Bendzak, Clifton, N.J.
My friends always step up to the plate. You have to find a way to laugh.
What is the absolute necessity for you when it comes to comfort food?–Madhu Vasudevan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I have a lot of comfort-food necessities. Chocolate is probably No. 1. Not a day goes by that I don’t have a little bite, but I try to make it something really rich so I’m not tempted to keep going. I had a bite of a chocolate muffin this morning and will have another bite after lunch. Then I like cheese, crackers and wine with my girlfriends. Cheese is something I’ve never had luck giving up when trying to diet.
Do you think there’s any hope of an Alias movie?–Tina Manco, Centerville, Ohio
I don’t think so. I haven’t heard anything about it. You guys would have to go crazy and demand it!