LAS VEGAS — Jennifer Garner answered the question on everyone’s lips at the “Elektra” premiere — that would be, “How are you feeling?,” although “Where’s Ben?” was probably a close second — the moment she stepped out of her limo.
The actress, who spent the week leading up to Saturday’s event recovering from nerve damage to her back (see “Jennifer Garner’s Injury Now Said To Be Nerve Damage” ), looked radiant and never lost her smile for the nearly two hours she spent in the chilly air outside the Palms Hotel and Casino.
As the star of the party, she powered up a giant “Elektra” billboard, tossed one of the Palms’ special “Elektra” poker chips to a fan and did dozens of interviews, seemingly enjoying every bit of it.
If anything, the back injury (she’s not exactly sure how it happened) gave her some well-deserved time off.
“I wasn’t feeling well over Christmas, I didn’t know why, I thought I had some kind of infection and it turned out that I had bashed up my back a little bit,” Garner said. “But I did get a couple of extra days off over my Christmas break, so that was a bargain, and it all turned out OK. I’m feeling OK and ready to get back on the horse.”
If Garner, who plays a tough CIA agent on “Alias,” didn’t prove her real-life strength enough just by her appearance at the premiere, her co-stars offered plenty more proof.
Take Will Yun Lee, who plays Garner’s nemesis — while shooting the final fight scene, he accidentally slashed the actress with his sword.
“There was blood everywhere, but she stuck her hand in the dirt and kept going,” Lee recalled. “I thought I was going to get fired, but she was ready to keep fighting. I was a nervous wreck, I turned white. We almost had to shut the day down [because of me]. … She’s the real deal.”
Even Bob Sapp, who played in the NFL before landing the role of Stone in “Elektra,” was impressed. “She was hitting me with a fake stick that you break and I felt those hits and I’m a professional fighter,” said Sapp, who wore a robe made out of a tuxedo to the premiere. “She’s strong, she’s tough and she’s definitely sexy.”
Michael Clarke Duncan was certain Garner used stunt doubles on “Alias,” but was proven wrong when they filmed “Daredevil.”
“I watched her train, I watched her practice with those knives every day. Even during lunch she’d come down with those things swinging,” said Duncan, who is not in “Elektra” but came to Las Vegas to support Garner. “I thought, ’This girl’s really serious, really dedicated.’ And she’s down-to-earth, she’s cool, she doesn’t ask nothing of you, and it’s fun working with someone like that.”
Goran Visnjic, the “ER” star who plays the man Garner is hired to kill in “Elektra,” described Garner as the most professional person he’s ever met.
“She’s amazing to work with just because of the spirit,” he said. “She comes to work every day, works her ass off, does huge action scenes five or six days a week, doesn’t get enough rest and goes to the gym every day, and is still in a great, excellent good mood all day, which makes a huge difference with the crew and everybody. I’m like, ’Thank you God I’m working with her.’ … And the other thing, there’s not one shot of her in this movie where she doesn’t look stunning.”
Fittingly, that same mix of brawn, beauty and benevolence used to describe Garner is exactly what she sees in her assassin character Elektra.
“I’m so proud to get to be the woman who plays this character,” Garner said. “She has empowered young women forever. She’s hard as nails, she’s a tough bitch, but ultimately, the cool thing is finding the heart there and she does have one and it’s a blast [playing her].”
Garner is waiting to see how well “Elektra” does at the box office, but she’s certainly interested in making a movie franchise out of the comic-book character.
“I think she has an incredible story in the comic books,” Garner said. “You don’t need to look outside of the comic books at all to have plenty of stuff to tell about Elektra.”
And for the record, Garner’s parents escorted her down the red carpet. Ben Affleck apparently snuck in a back entrance and was seen playing poker at the Palms later in the evening.
For more on Jennifer Garner, check out the interview “Never Before Scene: ’Elektra’.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Elektra.”
Visit Movies on MTV.com for more from Hollywood, including news, interviews, trailers and more.