15 OCTOBER 2007

Jennifer Garner must have been wondering where the time had gone as she and husband Ben Affleck proudly watched two-year-old daughter Violet Anne confidently take to the streets of New York on Saturday with only a steadying hand to help her on her way.

But it's not just the family's youngest member who's taking great strides these days. Her parents are also achieving new feats - Ben making his directorial debut with new film Gone Baby Gone while Jennifer is set to be the toast of Broadway.

The evening before, the Alias actress slipped into a scarlet cocktail dress to celebrate the first preview night of Cyrano De Bergerac at the Richard Rogers Theatre. Jen, playing the ravishing beauty who captures Cyrano's heart, is performing opposite Kevin Kline in what she says is "an incredible role".

Despite her hugely successful career on both the small and big screen, it has been a life treading the boards that the 35-year-old Texan has yearned for. "It has always been my absolute dream of all dreams. I always, always meant to be onstage," she revealed.

It's a role that couldn't be more different to the one she's currently playing in cinemas, however. In her latest film The Kingdom, with Jamie Foxx , Jen is back in action girl mode starring as an FBI forensics expert who, in one memorable fight scene that she describes as "down and dirty", even bites off a chunk of her adversary's ear. "I went, 'Yuk!'," she remembers, adding: "It was nasty. It was great."

Photo: ©
During the low-key family outing in New York, young Violet impressed her parents with her confident stridesPhoto: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
The previous evening, Jennifer opted for something a little more glamorous at the preview party for her Broadway play, where she was joined by co-stars Daniel Sunjata and Chris SarandonPhoto: © Rex