Jennifer Aniston Interview

Wasn't it about this time last year ago that your hair was what everyone was talking about?

Yeah, it was a big trend.

So did you consciously change your hair? Now it's parted and hanging loose below your shoulders.

I think it might have been a little bit conscious. But I was also just bored. It's very flattering to have people talk about your hair, though. And I was somebody who never loved my hair--I had curly hair and wished it were straight. I had bad hair days with the humidity. So it was sort of ironic to all of a sudden to have this hair be a fad.

Did you get lots of mail from young women sending pictures of their hair like yours?

Yeah. It was wild--and so flattering, I must say.

In terms of your impact on young women: what about your character in Picture Perfect, who jumps into bed with the wrong guy? Your director said the studio was much more concerned with the character's carnality, while you had no qualms. He said, "She knew what this was."

I knew, because it's not like this doesn't exist. It's like dirty words or seeing somebody naked--we all know what it is. We can pretend it's not there and show this perfect, politically correct image. Or we can show something real, which happens to people. I'm not saying that it's the right thing to do--God knows Kate learns that wasn't right, and that's what she gains from that experience. I think she made a big mistake but it wasn't her fault--she was thrown into this situation [of having a fake fiancT] by chance. I felt she was apologizing for it. [Director] Glenn [Gordon Caron] and I talked about that. Because she could come across as mean and manipulative and a bitch and I didn't want that. I wanted people to have compassion and relate to her and get it. That's a hard thing to do, to ride that line.

We, in the audience, realize that Mohr is the right guy very quickly. He's kind and considerate. Does this movie imply that nice guys are treated like doormats?

Yeah. And [women should] stop going for the bad guys. Stop looking so far when the good ones are right there.

I wondered as I watched this movie--though Jay Mohr is terrific--did you ever think of going to the studio, and saying, "Here's a tape of my boyfriend, Tate Donovan. What about his playing opposite me?"

Yeah. Tate would have been perfect for it. But when it's your first [starring] movie, there's an element of not wanting to have a relationship on-screen. That's where all the politics come into it. Eventually, we're going to do something together, because I'd love to work with him as an actor. But there's something about keeping your own identity and keeping your private stuff private. We understand that. No matter how perfect he is for that part--and he is!--that's just not the way it should go.

In TV Guide's recent story on you, Tate bounds in the room as you're saying, "I don't want to discuss my relationship." It's very funny. But is it hard to keep this thing private?

It's a strange thing. All of a sudden on your second date, you're reading that you're engaged before you've even decided whether you want another date. It's a very weird thing, and that's why people cherish their privacy so much. Especially when they're starting a relationship. Because it's so hard to have a relationship, no matter what your career is. If you're in the public eye, that's a tough thing--especially when you don't know this person and you don't want to scare them away, because that can be very intimidating.

Do you worry this machine will take you away from yourself, change you?

No, because we've all seen this business chew people up and spit them out. I think I've learned from my family and friends that this is something I want to do, and do well. There's so much more to learn. It's very bizarre to be in this position. You almost feel like you haven't earned this yet. I want to wait until I get to a place where I can say, "Now I deserve all this." That will happen. But you have to look at what you've done. It's a hard thing to pat yourself on the back.

I've heard people who become famous feel unworthy.

It's something you can never understand until you feel it. You're surrounded by actors you look up to, and you wonder if you'll ever have a moment like that on the screen?

You've said you watch the dailies as you make a film. But you feel you shouldn't be watching them on your current movie, The Object of My Affection?

It's so different, it's not a rip-roaring comedy. It's not a date movie. It's a very different story about this woman whose best friend is gay and she ends up falling in love with him. She becomes pregnant with her boyfriend, but decides to have the baby and wants to raise it with her best friend, because they have this love. They want to make up their own rules. It doesn't quite work out that way.

I heard there was a lot of competition for the Object role.

Yup! I auditioned months before, when it had another life at another studio. Somebody else was attached. They had cast Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves--no, I don't remember who the other person was--and then it fell apart. Now I'd never gotten a letter from a director in my life, but [director Nicholas] Hytner wrote me after that audition. His letter said, "There are so many reasons why an actor is cast, and it's all political and had nothing to do with your talent. Someday, hopefully, we'll work together." It was the loveliest letter I've ever received and I thought it was so kind. There are so few kind people in the world, much less this business, who don't have some odd agenda. He's just such a wonderful man.

You got this part with the supposition that you would film on your hiatus. Have you lost film roles because of the series? Would there be a way to do one during the series?

I did She's the One and 'Til There Was You during the series. I would shoot the show on Tuesday nights, do 'Til There Was You in Los Angeles on Wednesdays, fly to New York and shoot through the weekend and then fly back. I was thrilled! I was so psyched they could work it out and I could do movies. Wow.

You say you don't have a career plan. You didn't consciously start with small roles so no one could say, "Who does she think she is, starring in this movie?"

No. I wish I could say I came up with that.

Did you turn down leads that weren't in good scripts?

No! At that point I was still Jennifer who? I was kind of finding my place. I auditioned for both of those. Every movie I've done, except for Picture Perfect--which came from my dad--I've auditioned for. It's not as easy as, "Oh, you're a big star, do this."

It's been reported that on Friends, Rachel and Ross are getting back together.

They haven't told us anything. You know why they don't tell us? Because you guys will ask, and they know we will tell you. I think they don't honestly know themselves. Well, I'm sure they do by now.

But shouldn't you know if they're going to resurrect this romance? I always thought that the writers would work with the actor.

I've always asked that she change: "Can't she get a job in a boutique?" Everyone knew Rachel was eventually going to leave that coffeehouse. If I had to wear a denim skirt one more time, I was going to throw up! I just couldn't handle the aprons--I needed a wardrobe. But that was fun actually, getting to work with Bloomingdale's. All of a sudden, they're buying me suits and stuff. Everybody's changed and evolved, and all of the characters have come into their own.

So you wouldn't be totally surprised to come back and have them say, "Hey we're putting you two back together"?

I hope they do. Only because I don't feel Ross and Rachel ended correctly. I think everybody knows that. It would be sad to see Ross and Rachel end because of some fleeting affair, because he was angry and she was angry. It was that love-hate-pride thing that separated them. As opposed to really knowing and making a conscious choice that they're just not right for each other. Which could happen too.

What about Matthew Perry, who's been in rehab?

Matthew is doing great.

I heard you were on the set of The Object of My Affection until three in the morning last night. Don't they know you're the star and you've got a full day of interviews for this?

Oh, it was fine--it was the weather. If we didn't have the rain, we would have been okay. But I'm so excited, I don't even get tired.

You seem so nice. You say nice things about everybody; everyone says nice things about you. Is that possible--to not be neurotic and be an actress and be happy?

[Softly.] I'm neurotic. Of course I'm neurotic. Who did you talk to? Oh my God!

Matt LeBlanc recently said that being famous is like hanging naked from a tree in the wind. Do you agree?

My analogy is free-falling. It's like jumping out of an airplane, hoping your parachute is going to open. Doesn't everybody get a little neurotic? I definitely get nervous with all these clothes being sent to me, and I have to pick an outfit. And if I wear this designer, I have to wear all of that designer and I can't throw in other shoes. "Can't I just wear my old shoes because they're so comfortable?" I mean, you just want to scream and say, "Take me away!" But those are fleeting moments. You know what's good? To have somebody ground you and say, "Wait, it's okay."

Is that somebody your assistant? Or would that be Tate?

That's Tate. That's friends. Whatever. But it doesn't happen to me that often. I enjoy what's happening. You have no choice but to surrender to it.