The Alias alum, who’s starred alongside the actor in two projects ― Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and Dallas Buyers Club ― said her career took a back seat for a period of time after having her three children with ex-husband Ben Affleck.
While she never left Hollywood altogether, Garner had significantly scaled down her commitment to acting before landing a part in Dallas Buyers Club, which made Oscar winners out of both McConaughey and co-star Jared Leto.
“My agent called me and said, ‘We’re either having a conversation about you taking this movie or your retirement,’” Garner told Kelly Corrigan in a PBS interview this week about the role, noting that she’d just “taken so much time” away.
But filming the Jean-Marc Vallée-directed biopic proved to be a challenging experience for Garner, who was still breastfeeding at the time as her third child was just 9 months old when production began.
The 21-day shooting schedule was also particularly rigorous, given both McConaughey and Leto lost a significant amount of weight to portray their characters and “weren’t eating.”
“My boobs were freaking out,” a visibly emotional Garner said of a particularly difficult day on set. “It was bedtime and we were doing some scene that was supposed to be light and I started crying and I was like, ‘I have to quit. I have to go home and be with my kids. I just can’t do this anymore.’”
“Sweet Matthew McConaughey pulled me aside and said, ‘What is going on with you?’” she continued, while holding back tears.
McConaughey proceeded to tell the crew that Garner needed a minute, allowing her to go to the bathroom. From then on, Garner said, whenever she needed to pump breastmilk, she would “give him a high sign and I would go take care of it.”
“You can do both. You’ve got it,” she recalled him telling her. “You can do it.”
“How much do I love that guy?” Garner said of McConaughey. “I know, a lot.”
The two have remained close ever since with Garner paying tribute to her frequent co-star in 2014, alongside Anne Hathaway, Reese Witherspoon and Jessica Chastain, when he became the 28th recipient of the American Cinematheque Award.
And while Garner and McConaughey’s on-screen chemistry can’t be doubted, their relationship has always been platonic.
Earlier this month, the Greenlights author revealed why he’s never dated any of the many women he’s starred alongside.
“I’ve always tried to keep it professional and the people I’ve worked with I must say did as well,” he told Howard Stern. “Maybe we had certain crushes on each other at certain times, but we always just kind of kept it professional. Or maybe we were dating somebody seriously outside of ourselves at the time and we both respected that for the other.”