Horrible Aniston

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Horrible Aniston

Friends star Jennifer Aniston talks about playing dirty in new comedy Horrible Bosses, ditching her ‘America’s Sweetheart’ image and how yoga uplifts her spirits

By Cindy Pearlman, The New York Times Syndicate

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Published: Wed 29 Jun 2011, 10:21 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:12 AM

BEING A RICH and famous movie star isn’t a bad gig, and most of those who have managed it make a point of enjoying it – in large part because, unlike royalty or billionaire heiresses, they’ve usually had their share of awful jobs on their way to rich-and-famous.

Jennifer Aniston, for example, spent 10 years playing Rachel on Friends (1994-2004), which left her rich even by movie-star standards and famous by almost any criteria, and now she regularly stars in major motion pictures. As she talks about her newest and perhaps most offbeat film, the comedy Horrible Bosses, she is reminded that her appointments in New York weren’t always this grand.

“When I was much younger, I was a bike messenger in New York City,” the 42-year-old Aniston says. “I was 19, to be exact. You should see me riding a bike!”

“Oh, I was very uncoordinated,” Aniston says. “I was extraordinarily klutzy. I should have never even been allowed on a bicycle with all those cylinders and gears, or whatever you call them. The worst day was when I actually drove into an open door. You could see that I needed to find another career option, and fast!”

As it turns out, Plan B went pretty well. Aniston’s achieved practically everything short of an Oscar that an actress can aspire to – including, if the rumours are true, a fresh new romance with actor Justin Theroux.

After winning a reputation as a latter-day ‘America’s Sweetheart’ on Friends, Aniston has been using her big-screen career to flex her acting chops, doing everything from over-the-top comedies such as Bruce Almighty (2003), The Break-Up (2006) and Just Go With It (2011) to dramas such as The Good Girl (2002), Derailed (2005) and Friends with Money (2006).

‘I don’t want to play it safe’

In Horrible Bosses Aniston adds a new type to her filmography: a comic villain. She plays one of the title characters: predatory dentist Julia Harris, who ruthlessly harasses her hygienist (Charlie Day) for sex, resorting even to blackmail and threats.

Is the moviegoing public ready for Jennifer Aniston as, well, a sleaze? “I don’t want to play it safe all the time,” the actress says defiantly. “I wanted to take a risk. I wanted to do something that allowed me to go in a different direction. I’ve never had a script come to me in the past that allowed me to go in this direction. The risk made it fun.

“I don’t think I really cared if there was a bad reaction to it,” she adds. I just thought it would be fun for everybody to see a different me.”

Aniston also liked the gender reversal of having the woman as the harasser.

“It’s usually the male character in that role,” she says. “That’s why I thought of her like a guy. Other than that, I just stuck to what was in the script. The raunchier, the better.”

Director Seth Gordon says in a separate interview that Aniston was his first choice to play Julia, precisely because of the contrast between Aniston’s usual image and the character’s down-and-dirty dialogue.

As for Day, he says in a separate interview that he was shocked to do so many ‘‘dirty scenes with Rachel from Friends.

“I was intimidated,” he says. “My natural reaction to what was coming out of her mouth was caught on film. My job was to act shocked at what she was saying. That was real shock.”

“I just kept apologising to Charlie for everything I said or what had just happened during a take,” Aniston says. “In between straddling him, I would say, ‘I’m so sorry. Really! Are you doing OK?”’

Rumour has it...

Her fans will have more to swallow than the skeevy character she plays. Aniston also deep-sixed her trademark long, blonde hair, pinning it up under a mousy-brown wig with bangs.

For months there were also rumours that Aniston would do a topless scene in the film, but she insists that nothing of the kind was ever planned. Her scenes with Day are suggestive, but there’s no nudity.

It has been suggested that Aniston has taken parts such as this one and her scheming seductress in Derailed in a conscious effort to ditch her image as ‘America’s Sweetheart,’ but she says that such is not the case.

“I didn’t take this role to rid myself of the title,” she says. “I don’t even know where that title came from in the first place.

“I’m an actress,” Aniston says. “And, by the way, there are so many American sweethearts. My motivation is always to challenge myself and step out of what people usually like to see me play.”

Her next film, Wanderlust, will debut later this year, with Aniston paired onscreen with Theroux, reportedly her offscreen love interest as well.

Aniston refuses to answer questions about her private life, of course, presumably because she got her fill of them in 2005, when her then-husband, Brad Pitt, left her for Angelina Jolie, kicking up a tabloid tsunami that continues to this day. It hasn’t helped that Aniston has had subsequent relationships with other stars, including John Mayer and Vince Vaughn, or that Pitt and Jolie have maintained an extremely high-profile not-quite-marriage.

To this day every crumb of information about her personal life is devoured by the tabloids, and she is followed by paparazzi wherever she goes – to her own bewilderment.

“For the life of me,” Aniston says, “I don’t understand the joy of following me as I walk down the street or buy groceries.”

She has her own ways of maintaining her serenity, not to mention her famously buffed figure.

“It’s yoga,” Aniston says. “I do it all the time. If I didn’t, my spirit wouldn’t feel good.”

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