Wakefield Bryan Cranston Jennifer Garner Premiere
Credit: Craig Barritt/Getty

No matter how good an actor is, sometimes chemistry just can’t be faked. Just ask Jennifer Garner and Bryan Cranston.

Before the veteran actors stepped on set to play a married couple in their new drama Wakefield, they did just about everything they could to make sure their on-sceen union looked legit, including taking a course on intimacy.

“We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for the film and we wanted to have a really believable marriage and level of comfort with each other, so we took an intimacy class,” said Cranston at the film’s premiere in N.Y.C. on Thursday night. “It was a really good exercise.”

While Garner admitted that the course was “a first” for her as an actor, she joked that it did its job. “I do feel very intimate towards you now,” she told Cranston, laughing, as the two introduced the film to the crowd.

VIDEO: Watch The Trailer for Wakefield

The movie itself is a study in marriage and what happens when you decide to walk away from it all. Cranston plays Howard Wakefield, a high-powered lawyer who seems to have everything going for him—a supportive wife of fifteen years, two daughters, and a beautiful house in the ‘burbs. And then one day he snaps. Instead of going home after a long day at the office, Howard retreats to the attic of his garage and watches from the window as his wife starts to worry. As days of isolation turn into months, Howard questions how he spent the last 15 years (cue the flashbacks) and if he’ll ever actually go back to his old life.

When InStyle sat down with the co-stars at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, they both said they wanted to be attached to project because the themes were relatable, but the execution was unlike anything they’ve seen before onscreen. “This story begs the question, ‘What would your life look like without you in it?’ Cranston tells InStyle. “Howard is a man that, like many others, buys into the achievement-oriented, hamster wheel society that we have, but then he starts to wonder, ‘Is this all there is?’ So he presses the pause button on his life and has a lot of trouble unsticking that button.”

Credit: IFC Films

For Garner, the role of Howard’s wife, Diana, was a challenge because the audience doesn’t get to hear her character speak throughout most of the film. She’s simply observed through Howard’s eyes as he watches her from the attic window. “Diana is going through it all—first, her husband disappears, then she has to grieve his loss, worry about the finances, worry about the kids, and eventually heal and accept her new life,” says Garner. “In the movie, you only see her at a distance, through a window, so you can’t hear what she’s saying. A lot of actresses might not be into that, but I thought it was really interesting. And it’s a completely different take on marriage.”

Thought-provoking, yes, but ultimately, Garner says she signed on to the film because of Cranston. “Bryan emailed me personally saying ‘I would really love for you to do this with me. And how could I say no? Not only is he funny and lovely, but he brings whatever the scene needs and still finds a way to surprise you. He always adds that extra little sauce.” Looks like the intimacy course paid off.

Wakefield is in theaters now.