J.J. Abrams Reveals TV Execs Feared Jennifer Garner Wasn't 'Hot Enough' for Alias

J.J. Abrams: Jennifer Garner Wasn't 'Hot Enough' Alias, TV Execs Said
J. J. Abrams
Marianna Massey/Getty

04/15/2016 AT 09:05 PM EDT

Jennifer Garner rocketed to stardom in 2001 with her breakthrough performance in the hit spy TV series Alias – a role that instantly earned her legions of fans, a Golden Globe Award and posh entree into Hollywood's A-list.

But, it appears, not everyone was initially sold on casting her as super spy Sydney Bristow.

Series creator J.J. Abrams revealed that some TV honchos were apprehensive about Garner in the lead role. One exec's particular concern: Was Garner "hot enough"?

"I wrote Alias thinking about her," Abrams – who had worked with Garner on his other TV show, Felicity – said Friday during a conversation with Chris Rock at the Tribeca Film Festival in downtown Manhattan, as part of the fest's ongoing Tribeca Talks series.

VIDEO: Jennifer Garner's Changing Looks


"I finished it, she came in, was amazing," he recalled of Garner's audition. "And I remember someone at the network was like, 'I don't know, is she hot enough?' "

Garner went on to snag the role, playing the stealth double agent for five seasons until 2006, a move that helped boost her leap to the big screen.

"They're always second-guessing, everyone's always afraid at networks," Abrams said of the initial hesitation.

Of course – with a rich career filled with diverse projects, including the recently released Miracles from Heaven – Garner, now 43, has since proven those early skeptics wrong. Then again, Abrams never doubted that from the very start, he had the perfect star.

"Jen was so great, and she did everything," he said. "And it was incredible doing the pilot – I remember watching her kind of find this strength in herself. It was just so cool to see, and she just did a spectacular job."
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