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Alias Oral History: Jennifer Garner, Series Creator J.J. Abrams and Cast Mark Spy Drama's 10th Anniversary

Jennifer Garner Alias

SEASON 5
The season, with Garner’s real-life pregnancy written into the script, began in September 2005. Much of the action centered on Sydney’s imminent motherhood coinciding with Vaughn’s abduction and subsequent death — which turned out not to be the real thing. Balthazar Getty and Rachel Nichols joined the cast as Thomas Grace and Rachel Gibson, new APO recruits. ABC eventually trimmed the season’s episode order, and the series was cancelled just before Thanksgiving. The season finale gave Sydney a happy ending, living in a house on the beach with Vaughn and their two children.

AOH-pregnantGARNER | They were all so kind to me about [being pregnant]. They were so nice. But then you can’t do the fights and it’s a different animal. It wasn’t the same thing.

NEMEC | It just started to feel to us like we were nearing the end of what that story sort of needed to and wanted to be.

APPELBAUM | [Adding Getty and Nichols to the cast] was an effort to sell the idea of this sort of next generation of the show, knowing that 22 episodes of what Jen was doing was so beyond.

PINKNER | Typically by the fifth season of a show, No. 1 on the call sheet is the last one to show up and the first one to leave. But Jennifer instituted a Crew Member of the Week award and created a little crown, which went from crew member to crew member each week, and there was a ceremony. There was one particular AD [Richard Coad] who everyone loved, and when it was finally his time  — he was from Hawaii — she had rented hula dancers and everybody marched en masse to a soundstage, the doors opened and the hula dancers came out on a float… all of which she paid for out of her own pocket.

APPELBAUM | I think in the back of our minds we always knew that without Jen, there’s no Alias, period.

As the series wound down, it celebrated its 100th episode, “There’s Only One Sydney Bristow,” and witnessed the deaths of a few key characters.

PINKNER | When it came time to do the 100th episode, we designed it as a love letter to Sydney. It became clear as we started talking about it that it wouldn’t really feel complete unless Bradley/Will was in it. We reached out to him and asked him to come. He had a big life and a big career at that point, and he very graciously and happily came back to do the episode.

APPELBAUM | Sloane clearly needed to have the greatest comeuppance of them all. When we said, “Well wait, what if what he’s wanted all along — he gets it, and it gives him eternal life, but he has to spend it in this pit somewhere trapped forever? Literally what could be worse?”

AOH-sloane-deathRIFKIN | Oh, my god, it was awful. Awful. He’s there for eternity. People stop me and say, “Oh man, you really got stuck, didn’t you?”

GARBER | Every scene with Jennifer was pretty special for me. The hard one was when I was dying, and it was the last scene. The show was over, and that was very difficult for both or us, particularly for her. She was a mess.

PINKNER | I think we all knew from the beginning that at a certain point, it was a story that would end and had to end. And then the specifics of how it was going to end were sort of dictated by larger business decisions and Jennifer, where she was in her life. But I think the five seasons felt like a really natural, appropriate amount of time.

VARTAN | When that show wrapped, the final shot of the final episode… I saw guys who were tough as nails, dolly grips and lighting guys, everyone was just bawling. The goodbyes lasted three hours.

GRUNBERG | I like to take something from every show. Bradley Cooper’s character, Will, had a ’69 Ford Bronco, that was his car on the show, and I bought that car. I still have that car. It’s in my garage right now.

LUMBLY | It was about so much other than the chases and the searches and the technology and the frames and the jumping and the running. It was really about people trying to help one another get home at night, and imagining that they were trying to do that for a lot of people that they didn’t know and see. That level of compassion — I felt good being a part of that.

GARBER | The thing about Alias was that it wasn’t as big a hit, I think, as people think it was.

alias-series-finaleGARNER | But people who loved it really loved it. Still, after all this time, nothing makes me happier than if somebody says, “I really was an Alias fan.” And I can tell if they really mean it. It just means the world to me.

GARBER | It did have a very avid following, and the fact that it was on five years was pretty impressive, given the fact that the ratings weren’t ever all that great.

GARNER | I mean, people who have Rambaldi tattoos? That’s so awesome.

GARBER | I was just grateful that we got to do it for that long.

APPLEBAUM | Working on the show was like the show itself: It was incredibly exciting. Sometimes you felt like the rug was getting pulled out from under you but then wherever you would land afterwards, you were always happy for having taken the fall.

VARTAN | The camaraderie was a level of which I’ve never experienced since.

GARNER | Tell everybody that you talk to: It’s time to get together for our barbecue on our 10-year anniversary. I will host.

Do you have fond memories of Alias? Share them with us in the comments!