Wednesday, November 12, 2008

VOGUE: Jennifer Aniston - Prime Time

Aniston in a Narciso Rodriguez dress

Jennifer Aniston is Vogue magazine's December cover girl and feature editorial. The epitome of the California-girl, Aniston has new movies coming out, a body envied by all ages of folk and is reinventing what it means to be 40 in Hollywood - yea! Story by Jonathan Van Meter and photographed by Craig McDean, here's more of Vogue's December spotlight on the gorgeous-maned, stunning bodied, funny and poignant actress.

This whole 'Poor lonely Jen' thing, this idea that I'm so unlucky in love? I actually feel I've been unbelievably lucky in love. Just because at this stage my life doesn't have the traditional framework to it—the husband and the two kids and the house in Connecticut—it's mine. It's my experience. And if you don't like the way it looks, then stop looking at it! Because I feel good. I don't feel like I'm supposed to be any further along or somewhere that I'm not. I'm right where I'm supposed to be."

Luckily for Aniston, she has two surprisingly entertaining movies opening in succession—one on Christmas day and the other in early February—that ought to change the conversation by reminding everyone how wonderfully funny and moving and real she can be on-screen given the right material. The first, Marley & Me, is the better film—and perhaps the more important one. Aniston costars with Owen Wilson, and the two of them do some of their best work ever—Wilson is a true revelation.

Aniston's feelings about her other new film, He's Just Not That into You, are—how to put it?—a little more complicated. Directed by Ken Kwapis, who has done several episodes of The Office and, most recently, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, the film is based on the notoriously brutal advice book co-written by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo and features a stellar ensemble cast that includes Jennifer Connelly, Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Bradley Cooper. The source material itself could very easily have devolved into Hollywood slop, but because it was developed by Barrymore's Flower Films, the script and the performances lift it up into something unusual: a well-paced oddball romantic comedy (sort of) with interesting things to say about how and why men and women behave the way they do in relationships. It is, in other words, a movie about head games.

Aniston and Affleck play a couple who have lived together unmarried for seven years and are so natural with each other on-screen that you find yourself thinking, Were they ever a couple? In fact, they barely knew each other before working on this project. Affleck, who hadn't been in a film in two years, tells me he was "dying to swing the bat again as an actor" and jumped at the chance to work with Aniston. "She always struck me as extremely smart, kind, and funny—and her talent is evident to all," he says."I find their chemistry to be quite magical," says Kwapis. "It is one of the secret weapons of the picture." One of their scenes—in which Aniston essentially asks Affleck to marry her or it's over—is a difficult emotional turning point in the film. "When she realizes that he won't marry her, the pain she expresses—boy, I don't know. It's one of those moments where, whatever's going on with her as an actor, it's not a show," Kwapis says. "At that point you realize we're not in for fluff anymore." Her costar and producer Drew Barrymore acknowledges that Aniston is not on-screen much but plays a crucial, non-comedic role—"It's kind of an interesting range of emotions to have in one character," Barrymore says, "but she packs it all in."

When I tell Aniston that I really enjoyed the film, she expresses genuine surprise. "You did?" It quickly becomes apparent that it's not necessarily that she doesn't like the film; it's the subject matter that makes her squirm. "I liked my story line, but…." She stammers and sputters. "I don't know. I don't…like…girls…whining…and complaining…about…wanting a man! I never liked Sex and the City, the kind of thing where women only feel empowered once they find the Man. It is just not up my alley. I don't believe in it. There is nothing you can control about love.

As we all know, ever since Aniston began dating Pitt in 1998, her love life has never been out of the news. Their divorce only ratcheted up the interest in her every romantic move. These days, the public fascination with her relationship with Vince Vaughn seems almost quaint. I ask her if there's anything else to be said about that time. "I call Vince my defibrillator," she says with genuine affection. "He literally brought me back to life. My first gasp of air was a big laugh! It was great. I love him. He's a bull in a china shop. He was lovely and fun and perfect for the time we had together. And I needed that. And it sort of ran its course."

Most recently she's been linked with John Mayer, whom she met last February at an Oscar party. "Barely knew his music," she says. "And then we ran into each other a week later, and that was that." The two began dating—Aniston flew to England to join him on his tour; they took a well-documented vacation to Miami—and partly because of Mayer's past relationships with Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Love Hewitt, the paparazzi went bananas. Many people questioned Aniston's judgment; Mayer, after all, is nine years younger and has a bit of a…reputation. To which Aniston says, half kidding, "People need to mind their own business!" We both laugh, and then she gets more serious. "But you know, it isn't designed. Love just shows up and you go, 'Oh, wow, this is going to be a hayride and a half.' "

After they split in August, Mayer, having been trailed for days, famously lost it in front of the paparazzi while leaving a gym in New York. In one of the more ill-advised moves in the history of modern celebrity romance, he burst into a rant, saying, among other things, "If you guys are going to…run every lie under the sun…have me as a man who ended a relationship."

Mayer caught a lot of grief for his lack of chivalry, but Aniston chalks up his outburst to inexperience. "He had to put that out there that he broke up with me. And especially because it's me. It's not just some girl he's dating. I get it. We're human. But I feel seriously protective of him and us. Trust me, you'll never see that happen again from that man. And it doesn't take away from the fact that he is a wonderful guy. We care about each other. It's funny when you hit a place in a relationship and you both realize, We maybe need to do something else, but you still really, really love each other. It's painful. There was no malicious intent. I deeply, deeply care about him; we talk, we adore one another. And that's where it is."

The aspect of Aniston's tabloid persona that feels truly off base is that she is "needy" and "clingy" and "obsessive" about ex-lovers. In fact, just the opposite seems to be true. As evidenced from our conversation about Mayer, she seems entirely sanguine about how complicated and unpredictable love can be. She even seems to have made peace with her ex-husband. When I ask if she ever speaks with him, she says, "Yes!" in a tone that suggests that it is almost a silly question. How is he? I ask. She looks at me for a long couple of seconds and makes one of those classic Jennifer Aniston faces, one that lets you know that what she is about to say is going to be…ironic. "He seems…great?" she says. How often do you talk? I ask. "We have exchanged a few very kind hellos and wishing you wells and sending you love and congratulations on your babies. I have nothing but absolute admiration for him, and…I'm proud of him! I think he's really done some amazing things."

I ask her if she can remember exactly when the post-divorce acrimony receded. "You mean, when were Brad and I healed?" she says.

Yes, I say.

"Well, it never was that bad," she says, knowing that it will be hard for a lot of people to believe. "I mean, look, it's not like divorce is something that you go, 'Oooh, I can't wait to get divorced!' It doesn't feel like a tickle. But I've got to tell you, it's so vague at this point, it's so faraway in my mind, I can't even remember the darkness. I mean, in the end, we really had an amicable split. It wasn't mean and hateful and all of this stuff that they tried to create about Brad can't talk to Jen and Jen can't talk to Brad because this person won't allow it. It just didn't happen. The marriage didn't work out. And pretty soon after we separated, we got on the phone and we had a long, long conversation with each other and said a lot of things, and ever since we've been unbelievably warm and respectful of each other. Whoever said everything has to be forever, that's setting your hopes too high. It's too much pressure. And I think if you put that pressure on yourself—because I did! Fairy tale! It has to be the right one!—that's unattainable."

When I ask her about Angelina Jolie, Aniston asks me to turn off the tape recorder for a moment. Suffice it to say, if there is never any love gained in the first place, there can be no love lost. But she did want to put a few things on the record. (Funnily enough, they involve some of the same issues brought up by the recent profile of Jolie in The New York Times, in which she talks about falling in love on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.) She asks me if I ever saw a cartoon that appeared in the New York Post a couple of years ago that depicts Aniston talking on the phone in her kitchen. The bubble over her head says, HI ANGELINA…I DECIDED TO TAKE YOU UP ON YOUR OFFER OF A "SIT-DOWN TALK."…In the drawing, Aniston is loading a shotgun, and there is a copy of Vogue sitting next to her. (The cartoon was inspired by an interview I did with Jolie for this magazine in January 2007 in which she said she would welcome the opportunity to "sit down" with Aniston.) Someone sent Aniston the cartoon ("the funniest thing I've ever seen," she says), and afterward, she could not resist the urge to buy a copy of Vogue to see what the fuss was about. What really rankled Aniston about the piece was that Jolie felt the need to recount a detailed timeline of exactly how her relationship developed on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, while Aniston was still married to and living with Pitt. "There was stuff printed there that was definitely from a time when I was unaware that it was happening," says Aniston. "I felt those details were a little inappropriate to discuss." Aniston, still galled, shakes her head in disbelief. "That stuff about how she couldn't wait to get to work every day? That was really uncool."

Oddly enough, one of the more difficult aspects of Aniston's divorce planted the seed for one of the most significant things that is now happening in her life: her production company, Echo Films. A decade ago, during the salad days of Pitt and Aniston's courtship, they started a production company out of the garage of Aniston's best friend, Kristin Hahn; it eventually grew into Plan B. In 2002, Brad Grey, now the head of Paramount, joined as a partner, and the company moved into beautiful new offices in Beverly Hills, teamed up with Warner Bros., and began producing blockbusters like The Departed. But once Aniston and Pitt separated, the partnership had to be dissolved. Hahn and Aniston took some time before deciding to start over again on their own, and now, says Aniston, "we just love it. Finding the book, the article, the right writer. We love the process."When I ask Hahn what it's like to work with Aniston the producer, she says, "One of the things that people don't realize about Jen is that she is a brilliant businesswoman. She's a working girl! She is in her office every morning, figuring out her day and making it happen."

Even the prospect of turning 40 in February in ageist Hollywood doesn't seem to faze her. "I'm not saying I'm 40. I'm 30-10. I don't feel 40. I don't know what it means. I just know that all of a sudden it's something that's in print next to my name. AND NOW SHE'S 40. It almost feels like some sort of badge of honor in a weird way."Whatever happens next, one thing is certain: We will still want to watch her life. As Stacey Snider, the new CEO of DreamWorks, who has known Aniston for years and is developing The Goree Girls, observes, "She's special enough to be somewhat unattainable but real enough that you can imagine a friendship, which is why you pursue her. And you either pursue her as a fan reading everything there is to read about her or you pursue her as a journalist, as you have, just superinterested, or me as a film exec, always conscious of her work. There's something so pretty and sunny and winning about her. You bask in the reflection of her goldenness." She goes on, "Sometimes I think it must be horrible for her that so many people are interested in her every move, but I'd like to believe that a lot of that interest—not all of it, maybe, but a lot of it—is that people love her and want the best for her."

~ excerpts from Vogue magazine, December 2008 (

There will be more info forthcoming on the cover, the shoot and the products behind that look coming soon ...



  1. I love Jennifer Aniston and never get tired of her same beach babe look. Although I do wish that she's go for a new look, especially in a December issue :)

  2. Jennifer is genuine. She is the most adorable person in showbiz.
    Keep it up. Be happy.


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