Jennifer Aniston on her new indie movie
Jennifer Aniston has been busy these past few months. She capped off 2005 with two movies (Derailed and Rumor Has It…), and this Friday she’s back with Nicole Holofcener’s Friends With Money, a witty indie in which the former $1 million-an-episode TV star plays Olivia, a low-on-moolah maid whose buddies (Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, and Frances McDormand) are all rich. Recovering from a nasty cold (”It’s on the up-and-up! It’s healing time!”), a hoarse Aniston called to chat about anonymity, housework, and annoying coworkers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you like making your first indie since 2002’s The Good Girl?
JENNIFER ANISTON It was fantastic. I felt like I was at actors’ camp! It was kind of like guerrilla filmmaking: We’re in the farmers’ market, there are hordes of people, and every once in a while in the midst of all the people, you’ll see a paparazzi lens, because it was free-rein — there was no blocking off, no closing down streets. But it was fun. I’d never worked with a female director, except one time on Friends. And then I look around and I see that the women I’m working with are these incredible women, brilliant actresses.
One of whom, Catherine Keener, is a good friend of yours. Having been on Friends for 10 years, you know all about working with your pals. Was this different?
It was just natural. You’d think that you’d be nervous to work with a friend, because they know you so well they may see you acting! But with Keener, I felt like I’d done it before. She’s just so easy. I think because Keen stays so under the radar, she has the ability to access a lot of different parts of herself. People haven’t put an image on her. That happens, you know…[with] this weird, media-crazy thing, this oversaturation of trash tabloids [whose] fodder [is] a particular group of actors, which unfortunately I’m lumped into a lot.
Do you miss the days of being not so well-known?
It sounds like a really ingrate thing to say, but of course, yeah. That’s how you become an actor, by watching and being among people. Then all of a sudden you find yourself being secluded and you go, Wow, something’s gonna pay here…. But I think I’ve been lucky finding, once in a while, these little parts that are just so beautifully written. I read the [Friends With Money] script in about an hour and I just loved all these characters, especially Olivia. I thought, boy, she was really having a tough go at it.
There aren’t a lot of movies with four lead roles for women out there, and even fewer with lead roles for women over 40. You’re not 40 yet…
I’m close! [Aniston is 37] I have a weird thing where everybody’s younger than me all of a sudden. It’s like, What?! Born in 1982? When did all that happen? [Laughs] Ann-Margret is in this movie I just did [June’s The Break-Up], and the other day I asked somebody [in their twenties], ”Do you know who Ann-Margret is?” And they just looked at me. They didn’t know! I was so shocked. You could even say Bette Davis, I’m sure they wouldn’t know [her either]. Anyway… [Laughs]
Friends With Money has a lot to say about, well, money and the tensions it creates. Can you relate?
I think everybody can. Money is an interesting little character that can cause a lot of problems and ease a lot of problems. And sometimes among friends, it’s tough…. I was trying to avoid going into my own situation, but there was a time a while ago where I was really making money. And my friends weren’t. So whether it’s [me saying] ”Oh, come on, I’ll pay for it,” or ”Do you need money?,” it’s a tricky subject.
You play a maid in this movie. I imagine you don’t do your own housework anymore, so…
You’re funny. I don’t do windows, but I always make the bed. I’m a picker-upper, I don’t like things to get cluttered; it drives me nuts. Clothes do not just lay on a pile on the floor. When you’re a kid you kind of say screw it, but that was my job at home — I had to clean the house twice a week. That was my allowance. Couldn’t have been grocery shopping, had to be cleaning the house!
Other than those chores, what was your most menial job ever?
Oh, boy. Would going to the market for an elderly woman in the building count? That’s pretty menial, isn’t it? [She thinks for a second] I would say, selling time-shares [over the phone] for two weeks right when I moved [to L.A.], before I got my first television show. Selling time-shares in the Poconos — I never could have been worse at something. I just sat there and doodled. They actually scheduled your work at the worst time, around the time when people are sitting down to dinner. The guy sitting next to me kept selling time-share after time-share, and I thought, ”Well, you must be an irritating person who somehow managed to get these people on the phone.” I was immediately apologetic: ”Oh, I’m so sorry!” [Laughs] I just felt terrible.