Garner, Gervais, Lowe spar at Toronto presser for 'The Invention of Lying'

TORONTO - In Ricky Gervais's latest film, "The Invention of Lying," Jennifer Garner plays the British comedian's love interest in an alternate universe where everyone tells the truth at all times.

TORONTO - In Ricky Gervais's latest film, "The Invention of Lying," Jennifer Garner plays the British comedian's love interest in an alternate universe where everyone tells the truth at all times.

Some of that blunt honesty spilled over into their news conference Monday at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Garner was asked whether she was ever frustrated by Gervais, who co-wrote, co-directed and starred in the film, and who admits to bursting out into his signature shrill giggle constantly while filming scenes ("when someone says something funny, I laugh - just because I've heard the line 15 times before, or I even wrote it, it doesn't matter," Gervais said).

So, did it ever get on the 37-year-old actress's nerves?

"This is the man in charge," Garner said of Gervais.

"He's the one who actually wants the footage in the camera to be the stuff you're going to use. He's encouraging you to improvise. You toss something out there and on top of your line - in an unusable way - he ruins the take with a cackle that is completely of another world."

"So, no, none of the actors were ever frustrated," Gervais deadpanned to a room full of laughter.

The film features Gervais as Mark, a pudgy, down-on-his-luck screenwriter who falls upon hard times until he realizes that, unlike everyone else on the planet, he's capable of lying (though he can't conjure up a word for it).

He falls early on for Garner's character, who befriends him but repeatedly states - in a completely matter-of-fact way - that he's simply not attractive enough for her, and that his inferior genetics (he's fat and has a pug nose, she points out over and over) will lead them to have ugly children together.

The role requires Garner to seem entirely sweet and naive even while laying bare Gervais's flaws in as stark a manner as possible.

Even though Garner said Gervais had a knack for ruining her best takes, she cherished making him laugh.

"Nothing is better than making Ricky laugh," she said. "He has the best laugh in the world. You know it's genuine ... It's like a badge of honour to make him laugh."

It's a feat she and the rest of the crew onstage - including co-star Rob Lowe and co-director Matthew Robinson - accomplished again and again during their appearance Monday.

Before Garner and Lowe arrived a few minutes late, Gervais urged the assemblage of reporters to tap their watches upon their arrival.

When she heard this, Garner teased Gervais for his outfit: black track pants, black Puma sneakers and, as always, a black T-shirt ("It's so good to be sitting here next to Simon Cowell," joked Lowe).

"Probably his hair and makeup and wardrobe took a long time, you know how it is," said a sarcastic Garner, who was wearing a silky blue dress. "He's here in his PJs!"

Garner says she took a year off after the film and has nothing planned for now, though a new romantic comedy, "Valentine's Day," will be released in February.

In January, she gave birth to her second child with husband Ben Affleck and she says she's been focusing her energy on her family.

"Definitely, the frequency with which I've worked is totally different because I went years without a single day off," she said. "So I have to really love (a role) to feel like it's worth uprooting the family and putting us somewhere else."

Will she ever work with Affleck, her co-star in 2003's "Daredevil," again?

"The question keeps coming up, and we have literally never spoken about it," she said. "I think he's a beautiful director obviously and such a gorgeous writer but, y'know, to go to work with him, I would just be like, I need to go home to the kids."

"What would happen?" interjected Gervais. "If you were working with him and he said 'Hmm, are you going to do it like that?"'

"I just have never thought about it," she replied. "I guess someday. Life is long."

"The Invention of Lying" hits theatres Oct. 2.

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