Don't you hate it when you're getting a divorce, but then you and your ex have movies opening within a week of each other, so you're both contractually obligated to talk to the press?
A very Hollywood-specific problem, sure, but it's the quandary that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner find themselves in at the moment. Garner's family drama Miracles from Heaven lands in theaters this week, while Affleck is gearing up for the release of the much-anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice next week.
Even though the A-listers split up about eight months ago, they're cognisant that everyone really wants to hear what they have to say about it. So Affleck and Garner - and their PR teams - have set a new standard for how to handle this situation. Here are the guidelines.
1. Give one major interview - to a prestigious outlet, of course - where you talk about everything (almost)
Want to gin up the most publicity possible for your movie while simultaneously staying on message about your personal life? Then deliver one big, juicy interview, rather than squandering your energy among mid-tier journalists. Garner chose the March cover of Vanity Fair; Affleck sat down with the New York Times.
2. Spill just enough to titillate the public, but keep the details to yourself
Face it: People want the dirt. Garner gave an unusually candid interview without actually saying anything at all. "No one needs to hate him for me. I don't hate him. Certainly we don't have to beat the guy up. Don't worry - my eyes were wide open during the marriage," she said. Whatever that means.
She flat-out denied that their former nanny Christine Ouzounian - romantically linked to Affleck in several tabloid reports - caused their divorce. But she tossed out this nugget about her ex: "He's just a complicated guy. I always say, 'When his sun shines on you, you feel it.' But when the sun is shining elsewhere, it's cold. He can cast quite a shadow." Hmmm. Garner, who usually embodies a snark-free sweetness, even managed to throw shade at Affleck's new full-back tattoo of a phoenix rising from the ashes: "You know what we would say in my hometown about that? 'Bless his heart.'"
Meanwhile, Affleck apparently "vowed" not to talk about Garner to the
... but just couldn't help himself. And hey, she started it by talking to
, right? "She felt like she wanted to discuss it and get it out there and get it over with, so she could say, 'Look, I already talked about it - I don't want to do it again.'" Affleck said, adding, "It's fine. She's allowed to talk about it."
3. Keep it civil
Last summer, Affleck and Garner's camps (via anonymous "sources") fired blasts at each other through the tabloids about who was to blame for the split: Was it Affleck's wandering eye? Or did Garner make him feel "inadequate" as a husband?
Not anymore. In public, they were demonstrably friendly when they bumped into each other at the Vanity Fair Oscars party. In interviews, both stars emphasise their three kids are still the priority. "Jen's great. She's a great person. We're on great terms. I just saw her this morning, so that's the reality that I live in," Affleck told the Times. An Affleck "source" told People magazine that the actor "doesn't seem mad" about Garner's Vanity Fair story, and "it was all fair."
Garner also spoke warmly of her ex. "I didn't marry the big fat movie star; I married him," Garner said in
. "And I would go back and remake that decision. I ran down the beach to him, and I would again. You can't have these three babies and so much of what we had. He's the love of my life." Wednesday morning on the
show, she noted that Ben was on hand back home to take the kids to school. "We will make it work," she said.
4. Acknowledge that you're a punchline
Remember to show fans you still have a sense of humor about yourself. After the Golden Globes, when host Ricky Gervais drew gasps by introducing Matt Damon as "the only person Ben Affleck hasn't been unfaithful to," both stars made sure we knew they thought it was just plain hilarious.
Affleck laughed when asked about it, the Times reported. "It's the way Ricky Gervais perceives me, I suppose," he said. "Whatever. I've had jokes made at my expense before. It's part of the deal."
"I laughed," Garner told Vanity Fair.
5. Only make appearances on celebrity-friendly shows
The talk-show circuit is a must, but choose wisely. Affleck appeared on the ever-gentle Ellen DeGeneres's show Wednesday. Garner is booked on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Wednesday night, and will visit Live! With Kelly and Michael and Late Night With Seth Meyers Thursday. So really, neither star should expect any hardball questions, the ideal scenario for any celebrity.