(MOVIE) Jennifer Garner Keeps the Faith with “Miracles from Heaven” (Opens Mar 16)

The core of Columbia Pictures‘ new inspiring film “Miracles From Heaven” is a mother on fire, an impassioned, if constantly questioning 21st Century woman, who never lets up or lets go in her efforts to keep her child from harm.

But to get deep into the grit and turmoil of that kind of maternal drive, the filmmakers knew they needed an actress who would go all-out for a brave, complex performance without ever losing the audience’s connection to her. The consummate match for that mix was found in Golden Globe® winner Jennifer Garner.

Her career spans from action roles such as CIA officer Sydney Bristow in the hit series “Alias” and the action-thriller “The Kingdom,” to sparkling comedies such as the acclaimed “Juno,” to playing opposite Matthew McConaughey in the Oscar®-winning “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” But this was a role unlike any Garner had tackled – and she jumped into it with 100% commitment.

Jennifer was devoted to exploring that unbending strength of a mother,” says director Patricia Riggen. “She has three kids she adores, so she had that immediate understanding of Christy’s situation. But she also brought a sense of love, care and generosity that becomes the center of all the film’s relationships. The Beam family goes through all the colors of life, which is what I think makes the film an exciting and moving experience, because you see them shift from happiness to real struggle and conflict and then back to a stronger form of happiness. As Jennifer portrays her, Christy is so human and so real and I think that’s why people will identify with her.”

Garner knew right away the role was going to demand a lot – and take her on a journey that wouldn’t be easy on an emotional, spiritual or even logistical level. But she also felt an undeniably potent attachment to it. “`Miracles From Heaven’ kind of chose me,” she explains. “The night I read the script, I practically stayed awake all night. This family’s story was so moving to me and I remember feeling so grateful for my healthy three sleeping down the hall.”

That trepidation vanished by morning’s light – replaced by the feeling that she would do whatever it took to make it work. “I woke up knowing that I had to do this,” she remembers thinking. “It felt like something that had been put out there for me and so I said, ‘Yes.’”

Meeting Christy Beam only heightened Garner’s inspiration. “Looking at the world through Christy’s eyes has been such a gift for me. It gave me perspective,” Garner says. “This is the first time I’ve been able to spend so much time with the person I’m portraying. And I knew I was going to love her before I even met her. The strength she showed is something that I aspire to as a mother. I love her quiet faith. I love her relationship with Kevin. And I love their incredibly sweet family.”

That Christy questions whether her faith, or anything at all, is actually enough to hold her up through such an epic struggle was important to Garner. “For me, that’s what makes this story so human,” Garner relates. “You can understand Christy watching her child suffering so much and thinking out loud, ‘wait a minute, where are you, God?’ But I think she goes on to take that on as a challenge and commits to working that much harder to find that trust again.”

Like Christy, Garner began to see more and more how tiny, persistent miracles are what kept the family afloat just as much as the beguiling tree incident. “They had this huge miracle happen in their lives, but a miracle is also someone like Angela showing up and becoming a friend,” she observes. “A miracle is doctors going out of their way to help. A miracle is the enduring love of a close-knit family. We all have struggles in life, but I really believe that there are miracles all around — every baby born, every flower that blooms. We’re just lucky to live in this world full of beauty.”

Based on the inspiring book and astonishing true story of the girl rescued by an out-of-the-blue accident, Columbia Pictures’ “Miracles from Heaven” stars Jennifer Garner as Christy Beam, a tenacious, devoted mother whose world is flipped upside down when her daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) is struck with a rare, incurable disorder. With a parent’s fiercest determination, Christy summons the courage to do everything she can and beyond for her child, heading on a heart-gripping quest through a medical maze, even as her faith begins to flag. Yet, just when all truly seems lost, a series of unfathomable yet documented events unfold that leave not only Christy but doctors, family and community at once baffled and profoundly inspired by the astonishing mysteries life holds out to us.

Opening across the Philippines on March 16, “Miracles from Heaven” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

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