From Hello Magazine- Having earned a reputation as one of Hollywood's toughest stars – at least when she's in character – Jennifer Garner is probably more deserving of the moniker "Iron Lady" than a certain British politician. But those who have worked with the Texas-born beauty insist that despite her martial arts training, she's more likely to overwhelm you with charm than kung-fu. Born in Houston on April 17, 1972, Jennifer Anne Garner has carved out a niche playing femme fatales who are just as comfortable in a fist-fight as at a cocktail party. It was her role as Elektra in Ben Affleck's blockbuster Daredevil that confirmed her status as a female lead, and if her Irish co-star Colin Farrell is to be believed, she makes for a formidable opponent. "She's very tough," he says. "It was close combat stuff. It was fun, but she's a fit girl. We would do a take or two and I'd be in a corner wheezing, and she'd be saying: 'Can we go again straight away?'." In reality Jen couldn't be further from the morally ambiguous Elektra, however. And the only quality she does share with the character is her raw determination. Growing up in a conservative West Virginia home, the actress enjoyed a life far less glamorous than that she enjoys today. Indeed her parents – a chemical engineer and an English professor – didn't even allow their three daughters to wear make-up or jewellery. The strict upbringing which might have seemed anathema to most Californians taught her a self-discipline that paid off when she trained a ballerina in adolescence. As she approached womanhood, the young performer also discovered a passion for acting, and enrolled to study theatre at Yale. Following a spell working in New York's theatres Jen headed to Los Angeles where she landed a series of minor roles in series such as Spin City and Law And Order. Appearances in movies including Deconstructing Harry also helped to win her widespread recognition, if not stardom. It was not an entirely smooth ride to the top, however. Her first lead role ended in disappointment when the 1998 series Significant Others was cancelled after only one month. The following year she was offered her second lead, in the Party Of Five spin-off Time Of Your Life, but it was to prove similarly ill-fated, with studio bosses pulling the plug after just a few months. Coming after the ensuing period of bit-part work, a role on the series Felicity was to prove her salvation. She met her future husband, actor Scott Foley, on the set of the show, and producer JJ Abrams was so impressed with her that he offered her the lead role in his espionage series Alias. The phrase "third time lucky" can scarcely have been more apt, as the show won critical acclaim and consistently strong ratings. Jen's years of ballet training also came in handy, as the highly physical role required her to learn martial arts. Any fears that past frustrations might be repeated were firmly quashed when her portrayal of agent Sydney Bristow earned her the 2001 Golden Globe for best actress in a drama, not to mention the unforgettable role of Elektra Natchios. And the latter character has proven so popular studio bosses are planning a Daredevil spin-off which will see Elektra as the protagonist. Despite her onscreen antics, it seems even femme fatales have their off-days, however, and Jennifer admits that Ben Affleck had to step in to save her bacon in the first film. The hunky actor leapt into action as a real life superhero when one of Jen's stunts went badly wrong. "At one point Elektra runs up a wall, flips over and lands on her feet," she explains. "During one take I got tangled in the safety wires and I was being propelled back towards the wall. If Ben hadn't swooped in and caught me in his arms, I would have been smashed!" Now single again, these days America's shapely Iron Lady lives in San Fernando Valley with her two dogs and a cat. Pictures and a filmography are also available if you click the link at the top of this article.