"I've played a mom quite a bit and I actually love it," the Love, Simon actress, 45, recently told PEOPLE.

By Kara Warner
March 15, 2018 04:36 PM

Although Jennifer Garner has played dozens of different characters throughout her career, she relishes the opportunity to play moms.

“I’ve played a mom quite a bit and I actually love it,” the Love, Simon actress, 45, recently told PEOPLE. “No stakes are higher, nothing matters more than your kids, so it raises the dramatic license in your mind for what you’re doing.”

Garner, who has three children Violet, 12, Seraphina, 9, and Samuel, 5, with ex Ben Affleck, said it’s not a requirement for actors to be real-life parents in order to play one, but that it helps her to better connect to certain elements of her characters.

“My kids are little so I don’t tend to put my kids in the positions they are in the movies – often the kids are in danger too, so that’s not something that makes sense,” she said. “But I do understand the, for the lack of a better word, the ‘what if,’ of it. I do understand if this happened, what would this mom feel like, and I can connect to that in a way that maybe I wouldn’t have before – although I firmly believe that you don’t have to be a mom to play a mom, everybody knows big love. It’s not like you have some special club, anyone can do it. There is something that roots you to the character in a different way.”

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The actress added she was eager to take on her latest mom role in Love, Simon — the story of a high school-aged teen struggling to tell his loved ones he’s gay, based on Becky Albertalli’s book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda — because she wanted to work with director Greg Berlanti (Supergirl, Arrow) and she wanted to be a part of the memorable and moving mother-son coming out scene written for her character.

PEOPLE and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, along with GLSEN, the non-profit that fights to make schools safe for all kids, invited individuals from all walks of life to share real-life coming out stories. COMING OUT STORIES (produced by Ryan Buxton) can be seen at people.com/comingoutstories and on PeopleTV (download the app on your favorite mobile or connected TV device).

“Selfishly, I thought [the writers] wrote such a beautiful version of what a mother could say to her son.” she said. “It’s a transcript, it’s something any mom could watch and use as a template for, ‘Okay, if this ever happens, I will try to react like this mom,’ and I selfishly wanted it to be me. [They] wrote a really, really beautiful mother-son scene.”
Love, Simon opens in theaters March 16.

— with reporting by JD Heyman