“Deadline” — During the Q&A following Thursday’s American Cinematheque screening of the new Jennifer Aniston drama Cake, a woman in the audience exclaimed to the former Friends star, “I’ve been dealing with chronic pain for over several years and you nailed every mannerism, every emotion as well as the experience of living with it: People often think we’re faking it, and we’re not.” The woman was the second in the crowd who battled chronic pain, to applaud Aniston’s turn as Claire Simmons, a woman who has weathered a grave tragedy, and battles the chronic pain which cripples her body. The crowd at the Egyptian Theater was gobsmacked, and gave the actress several rounds of applause.
One has to see Aniston in Cake to believe it. From the first frame, you forget it’s her up on the screen. She completely loses herself in the role, sans make-up, except for scars throughout her body. It’s not a stretch, rather an effortless performance, so Academy voters, prick up your ears. Deadline’s Pete Hammond couldn’t be more correct: Jennifer Aniston is a bona fide Oscar contender in the best actress slot.
At the top of the Q&A, moderator Jason Bateman (who shares four onscreen credits with the actress in The Break-Up, The Switch and Horrible Bosses 1 & 2) told Aniston, “I’ve never seen you do anything like that before, I never doubted you could do something like that before, but I’ve never seen it. You’ve never been asked to do that.”
Aniston answered, “I don’t think I could have done this five or 10 years ago. I don’t know if I could have brought to the part then, what I brought now: A level of fearlessness.”
Many are comparing Aniston’s 180 to Charlize Theron’s about face in Monster, in which she completely de-glamorized herself into trashy serial killer Aileen Wuornos. As wonderful as Theron was, Aniston’s Claire is a far more accessible character to audiences: Despite her curmudgeon nature, she has a heart of gold. In Cake, there’s more than just the tragic pain that Claire battles. Guilt-stricken from the suicide of a young woman in her therapy group, Nina (Anna Kendrick), she aims to reconcile with her ghost as well as her widowed husband (Sam Worthington). Throughout it all, the only person who thoroughly understands Claire is her Mexican caretaker Silvana (Oscar nominee Adriana Barraza). Director Daniel Barnz,working from newcomer Patrick Tobin’s screenplay, strikes just the right tone. Cake is never heavy-handed in its melodrama, nor in the gravitas of Claire’s struggle. A sense of hope bubbles below the surface, or as Aniston told Deadline after the screening, “the film allows you to breathe.”
During a 1990 panel at the New Orleans Film Festival, casting director Marion Dougherty (who discovered Robert Redford, Jon Voight among other greats) once said that if she had to choose between two actresses for the same role, she’d go with the one who is nicer off-camera; because audiences would connect with her better. When choosing best actress, awards voters could also use the same criteria: Aniston’s affability and lack of pretension will carry her a long way during Oscar season. She’s an open book when it comes to her acting method, and such revelations will no doubt resonate with her peers.
Aniston’s sincerity shined through Thursday when she boldly answered a query on how she deals with the tabloids, while balancing a serious career. “Negative comments are hurtful, and there are a lot of bullies in the world with free time. You do your best to tune out the noise, take the good with the bad, and keep grounded with amazing friends who tell you to snap out of it and focus on your job. It’s a challenge to say ‘I’m not tabloid fodder’ and I welcome and embrace the challenge of that,” said the actress.
When it came to landing the part of Claire Simmons, Aniston felt ready to play outside her comfort zone. “The role checked all the boxes for me to play darker, I wanted to disappear,” she told Deadline following the Q&A, “The script had to be bulletproof.” The reason why there’s been a lag between Aniston’s dramatic roles, her first as a discount store clerk in Miguel Arteta’s The Good Girl (2002) (she was nominated for a female lead Indie Spirit) and her performance as a cash-strapped maid with wealthy GFs in Friends With Money was because of “stereotyping that occurs (when it comes to roles) in this town, and I had to flex more for the role” Aniston told Deadline. She gives credits to directors like Arteta and Barnz, “It’s the young ones who see you in another light. Miguel had this sentiment to cast me in a dramatic role (Good Girl), much in the same way Robert Redford cast Mary Tyler Moore in a serious role in Ordinary People.“
Aniston pieced Claire together from two people she knew in her life, one a painkiller-addicted stunt-woman who had her right leg injured in a boat propeller accident, and the other a dear friend, who weathered a deep loss in her life by becoming a crotchety alcoholic. “She had empathy,” said Aniston who in addition to wearing a back brace to get into the physicality of the part, also studied Barnz’s mood book for the film and worked on the proper vocals. In addition, Aniston gained weight by ignoring her regular workouts over two and half months, and being less stringent about what she eats. “It’s the different aspects of people, you dive into and let that become part of you,” said the actress on how she cracked the part.
But whether it’s Cake or Horrible Bosses, Aniston said she approaches the emotion of “comedy and drama in the same way. You start with the truth of the situation of the character. Their real truth. We’re being this human being, whether it’s the situation of portraying (Claire) or someone who is a sex addict (dentist Dr. Julia Harris in Bosses), it’s their truth, no matter what.”
Jennifer Aniston participated in The L.A. Times ‘The Envelope’ 2014 Oscar Round Table conversation. On The L.A. Times website, you can read edited excerpts from the free-flowing conversation moderated by Times film writers Rebecca Keegan and Mark Olsen. The actresses share their experiences singing on-screen, drunk singing on-screen, what it takes to land a part and the changing roles for women in Hollywood. Along with the text excerpts, but you can watch video highlights from the conversation, which unfortunately can’t be embedded. Last but not least, you can check out 2 high quality portraits of Jennifer from the conversation in our photo gallery.
“L.A. Times” — For this year’s awards season, The Envelope brought together a unique group of actresses, including rising stars breaking through to the next level and established stars breaking out into new roles and challenges, each earning some buzz for their current films.
Participating in the conversation were Jennifer Aniston from the small, personal drama “Cake” (opening in December); Emily Blunt from the musical “Into the Woods” (opening Christmas Day); Jessica Chastain from the recently released space epic “Interstellar” and the December drama “A Most Violent Year”; Gugu Mbatha-Raw from the historic drama “Belle,” which opened in May; and Shailene Woodley from June’s young adult love story “The Fault in Our Stars.”
“People” — Jennifer Aniston is known for being one of our favorite Friends and a sex-crazed dentist in the Horrible Bosses movies, but it’s her dark turn as chronic pain-sufferer Claire Bennett in Cake that’s garnering her early Oscar buzz.
Aniston, 45, was committed to everything about the role from the first time she sat down with the film’s director, Daniel Barnz.
“I said to him, ‘I have a whole plan.’ And he allowed me to go where I wanted to go, and we were together every step of the way,” she told the audience during a Q&A following the American Cinematheque screening of Cake, moderated by her close friend and Horrible Bosses 2 costar Jason Bateman.
“Well first it was just understanding the logistics: what the accident was, where did the pain exist, what was the injury … getting into her voice, into her body,” she revealed.
Even when she wasn’t filming, it was difficult for her to let go of her character.
“I mean, I kind of was in that place for the five weeks we were shooting,” Aniston continued.
Being such close pals, Bateman couldn’t resist jumping in with a witty remark – “Poor Justin.” Luckily, the darkness of Aniston’s role didn’t affect the couple, because fiancé Justin Theroux was going through a similar process on the opposite side of the country.
“He was thankfully shooting his happy show, The Leftovers, on the East Coast, so we were both just real happy campers,” she joked.
It may seem like Aniston has conquered it all, but when asked by the audience if there was any role she hasn’t played that she’d still like to tackle, she had an immediate response.
“I want to be a superhero,” Aniston declared.
While no superhero movie is in the works (yet!), Aniston has been busy promoting Horrible Bosses 2 with Bateman. When the audience asked Aniston what it was like to work the Arrested Development funnyman and the rest of the cast, Bateman was curious to know the answer too.
“This is a great question,” he responded.
Instead of a funny answer, Aniston gave a heartfelt response. “I had the time of my life. Honestly, it was like Christmas came early.”
Before Aniston could get too sappy, Bateman cut her off returning the praise and giving parents a warning.
“She’s so funny in the second one. I mean she was great in the first one, but, as a result, we said, ‘Well, let’s get more of Jen in the second one.’ Don’t take your kids to the second one.”
“L.A. Times” — Premium movie channel Epix and the Los Angeles Times have teamed up to co-produce a new series featuring interviews with award-contending film actors and directors.
The five-part series, called “Hollywood Sessions,” debuts on Epix at 8 p.m. Dec. 8. Excerpts from the roundtable conversations will also appear in the Envelope print section of The Times, and online at http://www.latimes.com/envelope.
The show is hosted by Times film writers Rebecca Keegan and Mark Olsen, who interview leading contenders for the Oscars and other awards. The first hourlong episode focuses on the lead actress category and features Jennifer Aniston, Emily Blunt, Shailene Woodley, Jessica Chastain and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
For the lead actor episode airing Dec. 29, the guests will be Steve Carell, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne and Robert Downey Jr. Other episodes will feature conversations with actors and actresses in supporting roles, as well as feature film directors.
Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman stopped by “Good Morning America” this morning (November 19) to promote their new film “Horrible Bosses 2.” The co-stars sat down with Cameron Mathison to talk about the film, where they shed light on how they were able to keep their roles fresh, fun and exciting. You can check out the interview below, as well as 111 high definition screen captures from the interview. Enjoy!
Screen Captures > Talk Shows > Talk Shows from 2014 > Nov 19: Good Morning America
“The Hollywood Reporter” exclusively released a new clip of Jennifer Aniston and Sam Worthington earlier in the day. It’s only a short 0:51-second clip, but it’s definitely worth the watch. Enjoy!
“The Hollywood Reporter” — Jennifer Aniston took on an uncharacteristically unglamorous role in her new movie Cake, challenging herself to play a woman trying to find some relief from the chronic pain caused by an accident that also left her with large scars on her face and leg. Offscreen, she took on additional challenges by executive producing the indie through the Echo Films banner she runs with producing partner Kristin Hahn.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter at the Cinema Society- and In Style-hosted screening of Cake in New York Sunday night, Aniston said it’s the smaller movies, in which she’s able to be involved throughout the filmmaking process, that truly excite her.
“Not that the big ones aren’t exciting, but you can get to be, for me, creatively involved [on] all levels, which I just find so utterly fulfilling,” she said, adding that she enjoyed helping put the cast and crew for the film together and being involved in the production process, which included trying to get others to support the film.
“There’s a lot of favors, sweet loving gives that people provide in order to help our little movie that could,” she said.
The film, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, is being distributed through production company Cinelou Films’ new distribution arm, Cinelou Releasing, which producer Mark Canton says they had long planned to create and was “in the best interests of the movie.”
“We just felt that once we were invested in this movie, unless something spectacular came along, which with movies of this size doesn’t often happen, we always planned on forming our own distribution organization,” Canton told THR at the Tribeca Grand event. “We didn’t know we were going to do it this fast. It just seemed like the right time to do this.”
Still, he said Cinelou Releasing isn’t looking to distribute other companies’ films, just some of their own.
“We’re not looking to be competitive with distributors,” Canton added.
Cake is set to get a one-week Oscar-qualifying run sometime in December with a wider release in January.
Canton said he’s still working to figure out when that one-week run will be, but the world will soon know.
“In the next week, we’ll reveal everything,” he promised.
The screening was also attended by Mamie Gummer, who has a small part in Cake as Aniston’s character’s personal trainer, a role that required being in a swimming pool.
As a result, Gummer called the experience of working with Aniston both “really lovely, really easy” and “a little bit cold, very wet.”
See more Toronto: Exclusive Portraits of Jennifer Aniston, Chris Rock, Robert Downey Jr. and Fest’s Biggest Stars
The actress said after spending two hours at Le Pain Quotidien with director Daniel Barnz and producer Ben Barnz, she just wanted in on the film.
“I just wanted to be a part of it in whatever capacity I could because I just loved the script so much,” she said.
Cake also stars Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Chris Messina, Felicity Huffman and Adriana Barraza in a standout supporting role. Other luminaries spotted at Sunday night’s screening included ABC News’ World News Tonight anchor David Muir and 50 Cent.
After the screening, guests enjoyed Grey Goose cocktails at the afterparty at Jimmy at The James Hotel.
“People” — Sure, Jennifer Aniston stripped down for her latest role – but it’s her dramatic turn on the big screen we’re talking about.
The actress, 45, is already earning Oscar buzz for her turn in Cake, in which she plays a mourner suffering chronic pain.
“It was just a wonderfully beautiful story of a woman in extraordinary pain, living through an unthinkable trauma,” Aniston told PEOPLE at InStyle and The Cinema Society’s Sunday premiere of the indie film in New York City.
And while her character is battling demons, “I also found her quite humorous and quite endearing,” says Aniston. “You have empathy for the character.”
The Friends alum says she was ready for the role’s change of pace from her presumed persona – not that it was easy.
“That was a challenge for me. How do we tell this story without having everyone hate her?” Aniston says. “I actually loved her. But the movie has a beautiful way of unfolding itself without giving the story away and allowing the audience to go with the journey as it’s being told.”
As for the early awards season whispers? Aniston is surprised, saying (with a laugh) she’s “flattered” and that she reacts to the buzz “awkwardly and stutteringly.”
The actress later celebrated the film at a Grey Goose-sponsored fête at Jimmy at The James New York, where fiancé Justin Theroux joined her.
“It ticked all the boxes that an actor dreams of,” Aniston added to reporters of the role.
Jennifer Aniston covers the December 2014/January 2015 issue of “Harper’s Bazaar” while looking amazing in a white, strapless dress. You can check out a preview of the beautiful cover below, as well as 4 outtakes from the photoshoot. The issue hits newsstands on November 25th. So stay tuned for magazine scans!
“Harper’s Bazaar” — Jennifer Aniston’s house, which she shares with her fiancé, Justin Theroux, is set high up on a sunny hill overlooking Los Angeles. It’s large and compound-like, befitting a star of Aniston’s shininess in the Hollywood orbit. But it is also, and very distinctly, a home. There are oversize cushions and throws on the slouchy couch, high-chic Jacques Adnet chairs (“they’re the most comfortable chairs in the room!”), a Buddha you could high-five.
Aniston comes racing in from the kitchen, a jazzy blur in trim white jeans, a navy T-shirt, and taupe wedges. She loves this house, loves houses in general—renovating, doing them up, making a home. “It’s what I love to do,” she says. “It’s a great outlet for me, a hobby, if you will.” The next plan is to renovate Theroux’s apartment in downtown Manhattan. “I’ve got to get my hands on something because I can’t sit still.” She adds with a verbal wink,”I mean, I haven’t done anything since June, for Chrissake.”
While Aniston characterizes herself as having a “healthy amount of ambition,” she says, “I don’t live to work; I really do work to live. I love my home, I love my dogs, I love my friends, I love the simplicity of watching a sunset.” She walks her three dogs, Dolly, Sophie, and Clyde around the property every morning. “There are moments when you have to stop and pinch yourself and go, ‘I’m here,’ ” she adds. “I did something good.”
So, yes, everybody, Jen is good. Jen is great, in fact. Read her a recent magazine headline titled YOU CAN STOP WORRYING ABOUT JENNIFER ANISTON NOW, and she responds drily, “Oh, thank God. Am I finally all right?”
The Narrative. You know the one. After a decade the narrative has finally gotten old. “I think people are starting to feel like, Are we that stupid?” she says. “It’s like how many times can Deidre Hall die on Days of Our Lives and they bring her back to life? Eventually they’re going to be like, ‘Guys, she can’t do that! She can’t die and come back to life and now she’s possessed.’ Seriously. How many times can I be out there in the world, enjoying my life, and yet the narrative is ‘Poor, Sorry, Sad in Love Jen’ … whatever the stupid headline is.”
The story that has taken its place is simple: Aniston, frankly, doesn’t “give a shit.” She pauses. “It’s the detachment from it. There was a part of me that used to get very upset. I was guilty of getting too up in arms about stuff that wasn’t real, phantom boxing with something that’s not even there. Now I’d rather just focus on people and things that are here, happening, and what’s yet to come. My friends, my family, wonderful people I work with. We know what the real is.”
Aniston’s “real” is taking her to new places. She has just returned from the Toronto Film Festival, where her performance in the new drama Cake is the unequivocal best of her career, with the words “standing ovation” and “Oscar?” being bandied about. Of the role, where she plays a caustic woman suffering from chronic pain, she says: “It was the most challenging part I’ve ever done, and also one of the most rewarding and fulfilling. There was struggle involved.” Aniston could very easily surf on rom-coms for the rest of her life. “Ha! That sounds like a terribly boring existence,” she says. “I love doing comedies, though. It takes skill to bring that joy.” OfCake, she observes, “You know, I don’t know if I would have been able to do it five or 10 years ago. But I was ready to challenge myself.”
The performance required that Aniston not only forgo makeup entirely but also have scars applied to her face, have greasy hair, and wear bulky clothes. “I remember the first day of shooting when I had to be outside, and it was not my most appealing look, it was kind of horrific. But I had this weird freedom. Now I’m like, ‘Well, it doesn’t get worse than that.’ You have to not care, because I was starting to feel very isolated and trapped because I didn’t want someone to get a stupid picture or whatever.”
Personal security, of course, can breed a sense of adventure. “There is absolutely something to feeling so full and safe in life,” she says. “It’s been an amazing decade of really looking inward and exploring all of the avenues that exist inside. Sometimes they’re fabulous and sometimes they’re dark and sometimes they’re confusing, and who knows? I think if you get to a certain point, you’re ready to tap into something emotionally and put it out there. And it is very vulnerable, and it’s a little scary, but what’s the point if you don’t give yourself a little boo every once in a while?”
Daniel Barnz, Cake’s director, has said he wanted to work with Aniston “because we had to cast somebody who you can forgive immediately.” After all, she could probably go punch someone in the face and people would just “get it.” “Ah, there are some people I would punch,” she says wryly. “I’d do that to a paparazzo probably.”
However, Aniston is “a forgiving person,” she says. “I absolutely am. I think it’s extremely important to forgive. Otherwise it just builds up like toxic waste. There’s nothing worse than holding a grudge. Listen, people can do unforgivable things, but you have to let it go and say, ‘Look, we’re all human beings. We make mistakes.’ To hold any kind of resentment is like taking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.”
I’m having some Brie,” Aniston says, jumping up and wrangling a dog off my lap. Talk turns to the movie business. Ask who her creative crush is and her answer is swift: “Justin Theroux. Not only is he a great actor but he’s one of the best comedy writers out there. And he directs and paints murals.” She lets out a racy laugh. “And I just think it’s so attractive to be that good at so many things and to have no ego. He’s one of the most humble, decent human beings. He’s not an ass. He’s not like some of our friends who are young and up-and-coming and they hit celebrity, and all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Oh! You’re different. Now you don’t say hi to people?’ ”
Aniston and Theroux originally met “when he was writing on Tropic Thunder. We were just buddies, and then buddies throughWanderlust [the 2012 comedy, in which they costarred].” Now, she continues, “it’s almost impossible to get bored with one another. We’ve tried so hard! And even that’s interesting because his eyes are so pretty, but we can entertain ourselves and talk about endless things, which is pretty great.”
She also credits Theroux with grace in handling the attention that comes with dating the world’s proprietary “Jen.” “He’s just been doing it so graciously and gracefully, and it’s a strange ballpark to walk into. He’s in his body, for sure. He’s a pretty realized person.” She flips back to his career. “But he’s been doing this for 20 years.”
Of the overwrought 40s, Aniston, 45, observes, “When am I supposed to freak out? When am I supposed to feel like, ‘Oh, my knee! Oh, ouch!’ I don’t feel any of those things! I feel like our aging marker needs to be rejiggered. I heard Halle Berry refer to her pregnancy at 47 as a ‘geriatric pregnancy,’ which is ridiculous! It’s insulting. Obviously, as women we’ve evolved.” She laughs. “My eyesight is shit, though. I already was nearsighted, but now I can’t see anything.”
Apart from everything, with more clarity: “I’ve had more fun post-40 than I can remember,” Aniston says. “From a work point of view, a physical point of view, a psychotherapeutic point of view.” She credits her girlfriends, some of more than three decades, for whom she’d “go to the wall. I’m a pretty good judge of character, shall I say.” Before Theroux, Aniston took a break from dating. “It really helped me get to a place where I was more comfortable with myself, truly ready for love and for a partner.” She continues, “The past wasn’t ‘less than.’ It was extremely important to my growth as a woman. But if you take the law of attraction, if you only love yourself 70 percent, that’s what’s going to come back to you. So you fill up that 30 percent, then all of a sudden there’s this pure, good love standing right in front of you. Then you realize, ‘Oh, this can be easy! It doesn’t have to be so hard.’ ”
The rest of the year will see Aniston launch into promotion for Horrible Bosses 2, out now, in which she reprises her role as a perverted dentist. “It’s more hysterical than the first one, and probably a bit darker,” she says. Cake was a challenging, dark, deep role, and this was just full-on, like a big ice cream sundae.” Cake will be released before the end of the year, so there’s a potential awards season to navigate too. “You know, people loved our little film,” she says. “That was pretty humbling.”
Aniston will, of course, dress for the occasion. Today she’s sporting a pair of amethyst earrings: “These are Ted Muehling that my sweetheart got me.” Theroux, he of the storied motorbike and leather, has great taste. “He can buy me jeans! I’ve never had a man be able to buy me jeans.” Theroux’s urbanity plus Aniston’s sunniness equals “ebony and ivory, or tawny and ebony! That’s another song altogether.”
Finally, and most important, Jennifer Aniston’s hair remains incredible. “It’s a little darker than normal,” she says, giving it a shake, “which I’m liking, actually.” Both professionally and personally, going darker is Aniston’s best look yet. “But you know,” she adds with a smile, “it’s just my hair.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR.
Jennifer Aniston sat down with Access Hollywood’s Liz Hernandez while promoting her upcoming film “Horrible Bosses 2.” Jennifer discusses how she is more confident than she’s ever been, the sequel, her Oscar buzz, rumors, and more!