NY Times Interview: Jennifer Aniston Putting ‘the Cloak of Rachel’ to Rest

“New York Times” — You can star in one of the most beloved sitcoms of the last quarter century, win an Emmy, be paid $1 million per episode, find as much success in movies and still have more than a little something to prove, along with a whole lot to lose.

So in the seconds before the first public showing of “Cake” at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, Jennifer Aniston was a wreck inside.

“It didn’t hit me until the lights went down that the most people who’d seen it were eight people, and all of a sudden we were in a 1,500-seat theater,” she said, her eyes widening at the memory. “I just didn’t know how it would be received. It’s a vulnerable, terrifying moment.”

“Cake,” about a devastated woman’s uncertain recovery, does away with pretty, peppy Aniston and installs a pill-popping harridan in her place. She has scars on her face, flab on her body, an anguished gait and an acid tongue. It’s a kind of glamour-for-grit statement just familiar enough to raise the possibility of eye rolls in lieu of applause. It’s a plea of sorts, and Ms. Aniston had no guarantee of a charitable answer.

But when the lights rose in Toronto, the audience did, too, giving her a standing ovation. And while the movie, which opens nationally on Jan. 23, got mixed notices from the handful of critics who weighed in, she got just enough positive recognition to essentially muscle herself into the awards season.

She has been an indefatigable whirlwind over the last few months, following the media script of a publicist known as an Oscar whisperer and attending more than a dozen question-and-answer sessions at special screenings in California and New York. And it’s working. In December she picked up Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice nominations for best actress.

She recognizes this moment as perhaps her best chance to “take away the cloak of Rachel,” she said, referring to her part on the sitcom “Friends.” The intensity of her desire to do precisely that was suggested by her reaction when, toward the start of our interview recently at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan, I noted that a reviewer for The Guardian had called “Cake” a showcase for her “hitherto hidden acting chops.”

“Hmm, yes, very deep underneath,” she said of these ostensibly buried gifts, adding that the notion was “kind of head-scratching — Wow.”

A few minutes later, she returned to the critic’s “hidden” phrase, again registering frustration with its insinuation that something other than talent and craft had gone into her work in “Friends” and about two dozen movies, not all comedies, since the mid-1990s.

And she alluded to the phrase twice more after that. In each instance, her otherwise smooth, affable manner took on the slightest of edges. “You have to do something really dark to be taken seriously, I guess,” she said. Then, referring to both the duration of “Friends” and its popularity in syndication, she added: “If you’re in someone’s living room every week for 10 years and every day on God knows what network, people are going to have a hard time saying, ‘O.K., we’re going to see you do what now?’ without making associations. It’s a Catch-22. It’s like: ‘I know I can play this part, you just have to let me.’ And then it’s ‘I can’t let you play that part, because I’ve never seen you do it.’ There were jobs that I really wanted and would fight and fight for and then the obvious previous Oscar winners would get them.”

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Jennifer Aniston Covers “InStyle” February 2015

“InStyle” — People talk about Jennifer Aniston a lot, but in the February issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Jan. 9, Aniston is the one doing the talking.

“I realize they need to sell magazines,” the 46-year-old tells InStyle’s Amy Synnott of the tabloid press that loves her so, “but it’s really getting old. What kills me is when friends send me pictures they’ve taken at a newsstand. One magazine says, ‘Desperate and alone,’ and the other one says, ‘She’s eloped!’ I mean, at least consult.”

For our conversation at the Bel-Aire home she shares with fiancé Justin Theroux, we consulted her on many things: how she’s aged so gracefully (and yes, without Botox), how she first met Theroux, and how she maintains her oft-coveted sleek physique. As it turns out, it’s a regimen that now—cue headline here—includes pasta. “Blasphemy, I know,” she says from the gray cashmere couch in her living room while sipping passion fruit iced tea. “I never ate pasta. I’ve been allowing myself a lot more in the past few years. Which does make it harder to lose those last few pounds. But you have to live. And so what? You go up a size. What’s the big deal?”

To see behind-the-scenes footage from our shoot with the star, watch the video above, and for more of our candid chat with Aniston—where she talks about her impending wedding, her workout routine, and her “closeted passion”—pick up the February issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Jan. 9.

Jennifer Aniston Talks “Cake,” Brad Pitt Divorce, & More with CBS Sunday Morning

Jennifer Aniston sat down with CBS Sunday Morning, where she discussed her new film “Cake, her early career, her divorce with Brad Pitt, paparazzi, and more. You can check out the 9-minute interview below. Screen captures will be uploaded in a few days. Enjoy!

Santa Barbara Film Fest: Jennifer Aniston to Receive Montecito Award for “Cake”

“The Hollywood Reporter” — Jennifer Aniston, who has received best actress SAG, Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice nominations for her dramatic performance in the indie Cake, will receive the Montecito Award at the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, SBIFF announced on Monday. The honor will be presented at Santa Barbara’s historic Arlington Theatre on Jan. 30 as part of the fest’s 30th edition, which runs Jan. 27 through Feb. 7.

The Montecito Award has been presented annually, since 2005, to “a performer who has given a series of classic and standout performances throughout his or her career and whose style has made a major contribution to film.” Previous recipients include Oprah Winfrey, Daniel Day-Lewis, Geoffrey Rush, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Javier Bardem, Naomi Watts and Annette Bening.

“Once in a while a performer who we thought we knew gets outside of his or her comfort zone and shows us the unexpected,” SBIFF executive director Roger Durling said in a statement. “When that happens it is cause for celebration — and this is why the 2015 Montecito Award is bestowed upon Ms. Aniston.”

The fest previously announced that it will be presenting its Modern Master Award to Birdman’s Michael Keaton; Outstanding Performer of the Year Award to Foxcatcher’s Steve Carell; American Riviera Award to Boyhood’s Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette; Cinema Vanguard Award to The Theory of Everything’s Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones; and Virtuosos Award to Obvious Child’s Jenny Slate, Fury’s Logan Lerman, Boyhood’s Ellar Coltrane, Get On Up’s Chadwick Boseman, Gone Girl’s Rosamund Pike, Whiplash’s J.K. Simmons and Selma’s David Oyelowo.

Interview: Is Jennifer Aniston on the Fast Track to Oscar Glory?

“Deadline” — Jennifer Aniston won an Emmy in 2002 as Outstanding Leading Actress in Friends and went on to morph into a big commercial movie star, but critical acclaim as a dramatic actress has not come her way—until now. Sure, she did well-received indies such as The Good Girl in between her comedic hits. But her latest, Cake, really takes the, uh, cake as a true breakthrough. Sans makeup and with scars on her face, Aniston plays a woman suffering from chronic pain after a tragic accident, and nails it. When she won a standing ovation after the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Aniston broke down in tears. She truly had arrived at a new place in her career, and her life.

Did the warm response in Toronto really blow you away?
It certainly did—just showing the movie at all. It was the first time we’ve shown it to more than eight people at a time. The real terrifying moment happened right before they let the film roll. To get that reaction was quite stunning and moving.

The script was in a screenwriting contest that director Daniel Barnz was judging. What about it resonated with you?
I just really connected to Claire and the beautifully layered character that she was and this excruciating, unimaginable trauma she is forced to walk through, to see her take the journey and discover that she in fact wants to continue living… Also, the reason I think I fell so in love with her was her insanely acerbic wit, this kind of sharp, razor-tongue kind of quality about her that I found endearing.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that dealt with chronic pain before. What was the challenge in bringing that across?
Well, I had a good six weeks of doing some intense homework. Daniel and I have a mutual friend who is a stuntwoman and she was in a horrific accident. She literally lived through 22 surgeries and excruciating pain and also became addicted to pain meds, as a lot of people do in this country. So I spent a lot of time talking with her and with doctors. With Daniel, we just basically tried to figure out what was the accident, where was the injury, what was shattered, what was broken, how would that manifest itself in the way I would walk or the way I would even speak.

This is an independently made film. Did you have much time to rehearse or prepare for it?
We actually had more time to rehearse than we did to shoot. We were lucky enough to shoot in Los Angeles. Because Daniel and I live in the same city, we were able to get together for quite a few weeks before we were shooting and really honed (my character). We made sure to get the scars correct because that was another thing—the camera literally is in your face, so we went through a couple tests. Our amazing dear friend, Scott Stoddard—who’s a special effects makeup artist—gifted us his time for zero cents.

You’ve made several indies and, of course, several big studio films. What do you like doing best?
Different things access different parts of my brain and excite me in different ways. This was certainly more digging deep into my toolbox.

So you really don’t look at it differently when you approach a character, whether it’s a comedy or a drama?
No. You just approach it depending on the part of your brain that needs to be accessed more. I’m up for whatever. I love it all. I really do. Physically, this movie was trying on my body. I had a lot of pinched nerves just from being in that physical space for five weeks straight, but I missed it when it was over. We had so much fun together. We were like a little theater group.

How do you make the leap from what we’ve seen so much of you in—glamorous and comedic roles—to something like this?
The leap was not hard. What was hard was finding the (film) that I fell in love with and then finding the director who thought it was an unexpected way to cast me. That was the hardest part because you’re right—I am seen in a certain light, even though I have done smaller movies and other things. So, yeah, I did have to fight a little bit harder and I had to flex a little bit more muscle to allow myself to get into the part. But I’m willing to fight the fight and show that there’s more to me and to a lot of other actors. You get put into a stereotype and you have to bang a little louder to allow your other creative parts to be shown.

You get pigeon-holed sometimes…
Well, I think it’s also from being on a television show for 10 years—that’s in your living room week after week, and now day after day (in syndication). You really do have to kind of run far, far away. But it’s OK. I don’t mind that. I’m up for that challenge, and that’s what excites me… I would be lying if I said in taking this on, there wasn’t a part of me that knew I was taking a risk. I knew I had to do it for myself and if it was going to fail and fall flat on its face, then so be it, but I had to. I feel like you have to be brave. You have to be bold. Don’t stay small.

L.A. Times “Hollywood Sessions” Oscar Round Table – Interview & HD Screen Captures

In late-November 2014, it was announced that Jennifer Aniston would participate in the L.A. Times “Hollywood Sessions” Oscar Round Table. You can watch the full round table below, as well as 1,130 high definition screen captures. Enjoy!

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Screen Captures > Interviews & Press Junkets > 2014 > Dec 08: L.A. Times “Hollywood Sessions” Oscar Round Table

Variety Studio: “Actors On Actors” – Interview & HD Screen Captures

Earlier in November 2014, it was announced she would participate in Variety Studio’s “Actors on Actors” Conversations. The interview show features one-on-one conversations between actors and actresses in discussion with one another about their craft and films. Jennifer was paired with Emily Blunt for the event. You can check out the full 9-minute interview below, as well 245 high definition screen captures from the interview. Enjoy!

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Screen Captures > Interviews & Press Junkets > 2014 > Nov 08: Variety Studio: “Actors On Actors”

2014 People Magazine Awards – Photos & Videos

Jennifer Aniston accepted her award for Movie Performance of the Year: Actress by long-time friend John Krasinski on stage at the 2014 People Magazine Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Thursday evening (December 18) in Beverly Hills, California. You can check out her acceptance speech below, as well as 104 medium and high quality photos of Jennifer at the award show. Enjoy!

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Public Appearances > Events from 2014 > Dec 18: 2014 People Magazine Awards – Show
Public Appearances > Events from 2014 > Dec 18: 2014 People Magazine Awards – Backstage & Audience

Jennifer Aniston Covers “Allure” January 2015

Jennifer Aniston has graced the January 2015 cover of “Allure” magazine! She looks gorgeous, doesn’t she? You can check out a preview of the cover below, as well as 4 outtakes from the photoshoot. You can also check out what Jennifer had to say about motherhood, her fiance, her success, and more! You can read the full interview when the magazine hits newsstands on Tuesday, December 23rd. Enjoy!

On her thoughts on motherhood: “I don’t like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women—that you’ve failed yourself as a female because you haven’t procreated. I don’t think it’s fair. You may not have a child come out of your vagina, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t mothering—dogs, friends, friends’ children.”

On her fiance Justin Theroux: “I’m so proud of him. We have so much fun together… It was nice to learn how to sort of relinquish control and let someone really care deeply for you. It’s quite wonderful.”

On the recognition she’s getting for Cake: “A woman going physically unattractive is where you get recognition and some sort of respect. You read things like, ‘Oh, finally, she’s acting!’”

On attention being put on physical appearances of actresses: “Quite sexist, to be honest, because men don’t get that.”

Jennifer Aniston Nominated for 2015 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards

The full list of nominations for the 2015 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards were announced earlier today and our girl picked up a nomination for Best Actress for her work in “Cake.” You can check out below who Jennifer is nominated alongside and visit the official website for the full list of nominations.

Best Actress
Jennifer Aniston – Cake
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon – Wild

The 2015 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards will take place on Thursday, January 15, 2015 at the Hollywood Pavilion.