• Prime time

    With 30 hit films under her belt and a role in this year’s biggest new series, Jennifer Aniston’s star is glowing brighter than ever before. By Jenny Davis
    Prime time

    It’s hard to believe that Jennifer Aniston recently turned 50. The actress still looks as stunning as when she shot to fame playing Rachel Green in TV sitcom Friends, which first aired in 1994. To celebrate her half-century, Jen had an A-list party to remember at the Sunset Tower Hotel in Los Angeles with a guest list that included pals Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Hudson and, reportedly, ex-husband Brad Pitt. Despite the ups and downs in her personal life, Jen has been working hard on a variety of new projects, including a new series for Apple called The Morning Show. So what’s her take on fame, career goals and looking great?

    On wanting to become an actress…

    ‘I grew up in New York City, and I was born into a family of actors. I remember going to see my first play, which was Children of a Lesser God on Broadway. And then, I saw Annie… It was me, my hairbrush and my record player, for hours on end. But I couldn’t sing, so that wasn’t going to happen. I was also going to a Waldorf School, which didn’t allow you to watch television, but I could go to the theatre. And my dad [Days of Our Lives’ John Aniston] was on a soap opera, and is still on a soap opera. I wasn’t really allowed to watch television unless I was home sick. I remember one morning that I was watching an episode of That Girl my dad was on, and I was overwhelmed that my father was on TV, because I wasn’t quite sure what he did at that point. So I really did have that fantasy of it, but I didn’t think I would ever actually achieve it. I didn’t know if it was possible, but I had that creative bug pretty early on.’

    On jobs before becoming famous… 

    ‘I worked at an advertising agency, as a receptionist. I worked two days as a bike messenger (It was really wrong to put me on a bike in New York City with taxi cabs!), and I worked at an ice-cream parlour in Lincoln Centre. I also waitressed for about two-and-a-half years. All the while, I was auditioning, but couldn’t even get a commercial. For commercial auditions, you had to go in with three or five people, and they put you in front of a white screen and tell you, “You’re at a party. You have a burger, and you have a beer, and you’re flirting with this one. Go!” It was just so awkward. I was terrible at that.’ 

    Staying motivated… 

    ‘I just had this deep feeling in my gut that somehow, something was going to happen, and I just had to be patient. I was hell-bent on succeeding because my dad was begging me not to be in the industry. He said, “I do not want your heart broken. The rejection is brutal. Please, please, please don’t do that. Become a lawyer.” That was my one rebellion. I was hoping that I was going to make it, so that I could prove him wrong. I just kept going.’  

    How Friends came about… 

    ‘It came about when I was doing Muddling Through [a sitcom]. We only did six episodes and the network didn’t think it was going to get picked up, so I started going on auditions for “second position”, as they call it. I read the Friends script and I have never had a reaction like that to a show… It was about my contemporaries, it was New York City, it was funny,
    it was interesting – I’d never read anything like it. David Schwimmer and Courteney Cox were already cast. I’d seen David at a play at Northwestern [University] and I remember thinking, “That guy is so great.”’ 

    How she feels about watching herself on screen…

    ‘I don’t squirm and get “Oooh, I can’t watch myself”. I actually learn from my mistakes, so I like to watch [laughs]. You can study it almost: “Oh, good to know!”’

    Dealing with false stories in the media…

    ‘I just ignore it. I mean, it’s not based in any reality, so there’s no use in putting any energy into phantom dramas.’

    What it’s like being harassed by paparazzi while shooting a movie…

    ‘It’s a real distraction, and it’s a real hassle. It’s just one of those things that’s unfortunately out of anybody’s control. You just have to hope you can get through a take where they don’t ruin it by screaming something, or using their flashbulbs,
    if you’re doing a night shoot. When you’re out there being quite vulnerable and emoting, it’s disheartening, even if it’s
    a lighter performance. But especially with a harder one, it’s an added challenge.’ 

    What she’s like as a boss running her own production company…

    ‘I think I’m a great boss. And I’ve been with the same gang for about 12 years now, so that’s sort of proof that we’re all loving each other.’

    Her career goals…

    ‘Oh, I’m just starting. I mean, I wouldn’t know where to begin. There’s so much…’

    On whether she would ever like to make a Bollywood movie…

    ‘Absolutely! [laughs] Especially those dance numbers at the end – it would be fantastic.’

    The secret to looking beautiful…

    ‘It’s hard work – you work out, eat right, sleep, you take care of yourself. And you’re happy. Happiness is the big key.’ 

    On healthy eating…

    ‘At a certain age, you realise you have to cut some stuff out and get healthy and get with the programme, for a better lifestyle all across the board.’

    On living a wonderful life…

    ‘My life is a happy life. It’s a choice.’ 

    TEXT: JENNY DAVIS/HOTFEATURES; Photography: august image/greatstock, gallo/gettyimages

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