''Alias''' tough cookie is a total sweetheart

By Bruce Fretts
Updated December 24, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Jennifer Garner Photograph by Sheryl Nields

AGE 29
MOMENT OF ARRIVAL As reluctant secret agent Sydney Bristow on ABC’s supercool ”Alias,” Garner has proven herself a knockout actress — and we’re not just talking about in the action sequences. Her dramatic scenes with Victor Garber as her estranged fellow-spy father are also painfully realistic. Plus, ”she’s got these incredible dimples,” ”Alias” creator J.J. Abrams notes. ”She’s beautiful in a very familiar, adorable way — you just can’t stop watching her.”
UNLIKELY INSPIRATION ”When I saw the movie ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ I loved it,” says Garner. ”I knew I wanted to play something where women were that strong and got to fight.”
PREVIOUS JOBS She was Scott Foley’s ex-girlfriend on Abrams’ ”Felicity” (and married Foley in real life last year). But what really prepared her for ”Alias” were…10 years of ballet lessons? ”If you tell me to kick somebody right next to their head, chances are I’m going to hit right next to their head and not take off their nose. In this job, that’s pretty valuable.”
WHAT’S NEXT She appears with Foley in the slacker heist flick ”Rennie’s Landing.” ”I play his ex-girlfriend. I like to play his ex.”