Jennifer Garner is not only starring in new Apple TV+ series The Last Thing He Told Me, but also lands her first executive producer credit with the project, serving as EP alongside close friend Reese Witherspoon.
“I think the older you get and the more you’ve been kicking around for 30 years, you naturally become more central to the collaborative process,” Garner told The Hollywood Reporter at the show’s Los Angeles premiere on Thursday of taking on the producing role. She recalled reading the scripts aloud in the backyard of married co-creators Laura Dave and Josh Singer, then “over and over again tore them up, had heated discussions, but then they actually made revisions based on our conversations. They were so open to hearing my thoughts and ideas and so nuanced in the ways they made the shifts because of our conversations, that I was kind of blown away.”
The star has started doing more behind-the-scenes work in the last few years, serving as producer for 2021 Netflix film Yes Day and upcoming movie Family Leave. She points to Witherspoon, who has quickly created her own empire under her Hello Sunshine banner, as the reason behind her producing pivot.
“Honestly, Reese is behind that, she has really pushed me. She said to me a few years ago, ‘Nobody is sitting around thinking, what can I shoot in L.A. that’s going to have a 50-year-old woman in it?’ She’s like, ‘You’ve got to create your own stuff,’” Garner said. “All women in this town owe a debt of gratitude to Reese.”
Garner stars in The Last Thing He Told Me — which is based on Dave’s 2021 novel of the same name — as Hannah, a woman who forms an unexpected relationship with her teen stepdaughter while searching for the truth about why her husband has mysteriously disappeared.
Julia Roberts was originally set to lead the series, but after she dropped out, Garner sent letters to the creative team pitching herself for the role.
“Hannah and I are quite different but there was something about her that just really spoke to me. I feel like she is the ultimate hero of her own story, she’s fighting for own optimism and that is something that I could really relate to,” Garner explained. “The idea also of becoming a parent and when you are a parent, you still have to fall in love with your kids over and over again; they keep changing, they shift, and you just find new ways to love them, new ways they expand your heart in new and different ways all the time. To watch Hannah go through that process in real time was really exciting for me.”
Game of Thrones‘ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays missing husband Owen, who said he was drawn in by the character as “so much of his story is flashbacks but it’s from other people’s point of view. I thought that was interesting because you can’t trust memory.” All of those flashbacks also mean that Coster-Waldau is digitally de-aged for some scenes, as he admitted at the premiere, “I haven’t seen the final version, I can’t wait to see it. It’s going to be weird.”
With so many female producers, the series is also notable for it’s all-female directing team. Dave says that was important to her as there’s “often been stories about a scorned wife or a wife that’s trying to understand her situation in response to her husband, and we really wanted this to be told through a female gaze.” Added Garner, “This is just a story about a woman learning to trust her own instinct, a woman finding her own agency and struggling through to prove herself to herself. And nobody can tell that story better than women in Hollywood.”
The first two episodes of The Last Thing He Told Me are now streaming on Apple TV+.
Jennifer Garner Says “All Women in This Town Owe a Debt of Gratitude” to Reese Witherspoon for Producing Female-Led Projects