Jennifer Aniston on Moving on From 'Friends,' What it Would Take for Her to Return to TV (Q&A)
This story originally appeared in the March 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.
With huge success in film and television under her belt, getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has Jennifer Aniston pondering the next chapter in her professional life. Ten seasons on NBC’s Friends led to a successful feature career fronting a string of romantic comedies. In 2006, she stepped behind the camera for the first time, directing the short Room 10. More recently, Aniston, 43, directed a segment of Lifetime’s breast-cancer anthology Five. Today, she finds herself at a crossroads and, as Aniston tells THR, that’s a good place to be.
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The Hollywood Reporter: You spent much of your childhood in Southern California. What does getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame mean to you?
Jennifer Aniston: It’s epic. I have such memories of walking up and down the streets of Hollywood, going to the Wax Museum and Grauman’s Chinese and seeing all those things. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine [having a star]. It’s surreal, and you feel humbled. You take a little inventory and ask yourself: “What more are we going to do? What do we have left to do? Have we done enough to get this thing?”
THR: If you could pick whose star yours is placed next to, who would it be?
Aniston: I would not balk at Lucille Ball!
THR: Last year, you executive produced and helmed a chapter in Lifetime’s buzzy Five anthology. Is directing something you’d like to do more of?
Aniston: Yes, that’s the argument I’ve been having with my agents. Since I directed my first short, Room 10, that bug gets you. I love acting, but being an actor for hire only serves so much, and then you want to fill your well up again and be charged by something else. Realistically speaking, I don’t know how many more years I will want to be acting or will be invited to be. I always play it by ear and feel very grateful that I still am working at all. It’s not a freebie. This isn’t just a guarantee; this is a tough business that we are in, and you’ve got to keep yourself creatively excited, whatever that is.
THR: Are you most interested in cultivating smaller features, indie films, shorts or television projects?
Aniston: It’s kind of everything, honestly. For instance, there’s a script that [Five’s] Patty Clarkson and I have been looking at. Then there’s the big comedies that have been tossed my way, and I go, “Well, that would be really interesting.” Then I have my agents saying, “You can’t do that yet” or “How do we find a way where you can do both?” It’s a wonderful little crossroads to be at.
THR: Your boyfriend and Wanderlust co-star, Justin Theroux, is pushing more into writing, including penning the upcoming musical feature Rock of Ages. Does writing interest you?
Aniston: Oh God, no. That’s a bug I don’t even understand. I’m lucky if I write a letter. I’m more interested in the execution of what the writer puts down on paper.
THR: Former Friends stars Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow are thriving on cable with Showtime’s Episodes and Web Therapy, respectively. What would it take to bring you back to series TV?
Aniston: It would probably take those five actors and be somewhere where we left off. I loved what I did for 10 years; it was pure joy and nothing but fun, and it’d be hard to top it. The way we sort of felt the excitement of what Friends was when it started, it would have to be something where you felt a similar charge. But I’ll never ever say never.
THR: You’ve had success in both TV and film. Where do you feel the better opportunities for women exist?
Aniston: Independent film. But I also think, thanks to the Kristen Wiigs of the world and thanks to Bridesmaids and those kinds of female comedies, that it’s going to open up and change. It has to evolve; there’s only so much we can see of guys with guns and frat boys.
THR: Looking back at your career, is there one role that stands out as what you’d most like to be identified for, that you’re most proud of?
Aniston: I really loved [2002’s] The Good Girl. Rachel on Friends, I owe everything to her. But I also loved Dr. Julia in Horrible Bosses . Those three mean a lot to me.
THR: Your father, John Aniston, has been a longtime castmember on NBC’s Days of Our Lives. Has he, or anyone else in the industry, given you career advice that has really stuck with you?
Aniston: My dad’s advice has always been: “Don’t do it. Become a doctor. Become a lawyer.” He didn’t want me to be heartbroken because he knew it was a tough business. It compelled me to go for it even harder. Do what keeps you happy, and don’t ever let people box you in. There was a period when I was on Friends where The Good Girl came to me, or [2006’s] Friends With Money came to me. I thought, I’ve got to go for it now and try to not just be Rachel Green so I can get out of the Fruity Pebbles section at the grocery and explore the organic food. It’s a terrible analogy, but I had to get out there and do something different so they could see that I’m an actor, so I didn’t forget that I could do other things. I was lucky that happened.
THR: Were you surprised when “The Rachel” shag haircut became so widely imitated and iconic in the mid-1990s?
Aniston: Of course. My hair has never been my greatest feature, so that was funny enough unto itself that my hair became so focused on. I have curly, uncontrollable hair! I didn’t love that cut; it was a haircut to clean up damaged hair. I’m really a long-hair kind of girl.
THR: If Friends were still going, what would Ross and Rachel be doing now?
Aniston: They’re absolutely, 100 percent together. They have more kids! He’s probably still working, and hopefully they’re still hanging out somewhere. It would be really upsetting if they weren’t; it would bum me out.
THR: LeBlanc said recently that a Friends movie isn’t something he could ever see happening. What are your feelings about that?
Aniston: I can’t imagine how you would do it, unless you did it years from now. Then it would be: “Who are these guys? What are we watching?” I can’t imagine what that would be. It’s not normal. Friends is in your living room; Friends is not in a movie theater. It doesn’t make sense to me. I think it would be going against its authentic self.
THR: Your red-carpet style tends toward the classic little black dress. What is it about that simplicity that most appeals to you?
Aniston: The little black dress is just comfortable. It’s all about being comfortable, being easy and having you be able to wear something and not having it wear you. It’s classic. Every time I’ve tried to be bold and crazy, I feel like a Japanese animated cartoon character.