Jennifer Joanna Aniston (born February 11, 1969) is an American actress, producer, and businesswoman. She is the daughter of actor John Aniston and actress Nancy Dow. Aniston gained worldwide recognition for portraying Rachel Green on the popular television sitcom Friends (1994–2004), a role which earned her a Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. The character was widely popular during the airing of the series and became recognized as one of the 100 greatest female characters in United States television.
Aniston has played the female protagonist in a number of comedies and romantic comedy films. Her box office hits include Bruce Almighty (2003), The Break-Up (2006), Marley & Me (2008), Just Go with It (2011), Horrible Bosses (2011) and We’re the Millers (2013), each of which have grossed over US$200 million in worldwide receipts. Her most critically acclaimed roles were in The Good Girl (2002), for which she was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead, and the drama Cake (2014), for which she received nominations for the Golden Globe Award and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. Her other films include Along Came Polly (2004) and He’s Just Not That Into You (2009). She is the co-founder, in 2008, of the production company Echo Films.
In 2012, Aniston received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood and as of 2014, her net worth is estimated to be US$150 million. She has also been included in magazines’ lists of the world’s most beautiful women. In 2004, Aniston was named “The Most Beautiful Woman” by People magazine, and Men’s Health magazine voted her the “Sexiest Woman of All Time” in 2011. Her personal life is also the subject of wide publicity. Divorced from actor Brad Pitt, to whom she was married for five years, she has been married to actor Justin Theroux since 2015.
Aniston was born February 11, 1969, in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California to actors John Aniston and Nancy Dow. Her father is Greek and a native of Crete, while her mother was born in New York City. One of her maternal great-grandfathers was an Italian immigrant and her mother’s other ancestry is English, Scottish, Irish and a small amount of Greek. Aniston has two half-brothers, John Melick, her maternal older half-brother, and Alex Aniston, her younger paternal half-brother. Aniston’s godfather was actor Telly Savalas, one of her father’s best friends.
As a child, Aniston lived in Greece for a year with her family. They then moved to Eddystone, Pennsylvania, where they lived with her grandmother Stella Anastassakis in a three-bedroom home. While living in Eddystone, Aniston was enrolled at a local elementary school. She and her family later moved to New York City. Despite her father’s television career, Aniston was discouraged from watching TV, though she found ways around the prohibition. When she was six, Aniston began attending a Waldorf school. During that time, Aniston’s father and mother split when she was nine years old. Her father is best known for his role as Victor Kiriakis on the NBC daytime drama Days of Our Lives, which he originated in 1985. Her mother appeared in two 1960s TV series, The Wild Wild West and The Beverly Hillbillies.
Having discovered acting at eleven at the Waldorf school, Aniston enrolled and graduated at Manhattan’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, where she joined the school’s drama society.
In 2015, Aniston spoke about a childhood incident that led to lifelong fear of water. She stated during a special event for her film Cake (2015), “I basically have a real fear of going underwater. I was a kid and I was riding this tricycle around a swimming pool and I drove my tricycle into the swimming pool and I didn’t let go and my brother tried to (help). So, I can’t go underwater and no one will believe me. I honestly can’t.” The incident led to filming a swimming pool scene 30 times on the set of the film with director Daniel Barnz before getting it right.
1988–93: Career beginnings
Aniston worked in Off-Broadway productions such as For Dear Life and Dancing on Checker’s Grave, and supported herself with several part-time jobs, which included working as a telemarketer, waitress, and bike messenger. In 1989, Aniston appeared on The Howard Stern Show, as a spokesmodel for Nutrisystem. That year, Aniston moved back to Los Angeles.
Aniston was cast in her first television role in 1990, starring as a regular on the short-lived series Molloy. She then co-starred in Ferris Bueller, a television adaptation of the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), and like Molloy also quickly canceled. Aniston then appeared in two more failed television comedy series, The Edge and Muddling Through. Other roles included the horror film Leprechaun (1993), the TV movie Camp Cucamonga(1990), and guest roles on Quantum Leap, Herman’s Head, and Burke’s Law.
1994–02: Television breakthrough and rising film career
Depressed over her four unsuccessful television shows, Aniston approached Warren Littlefield at a Los Angeles gas station asking for reassurance about her career. The head of NBC entertainment encouraged Aniston to continue acting, and a few months later helped cast her for Friends, a sitcom that was set to debut on NBC’s 1994–1995 fall lineup. The producers of the show originally wanted Aniston to audition for the role of Monica Geller, but Courteney Cox was considered to be better suited to the role. Thus, Aniston was cast as Rachel Green. She was also offered a spot as a featured player on Saturday Night Live, but turned it down to do Friends. She played the character of Rachel from 1994 until the show ended in 2004.
The program was successful and Aniston, along with her co-stars, gained world-wide reputation among television viewers. Aniston received a salary of US$1 million per episode for the last two seasons of Friends, as well as five Emmy nominations (two for Supporting Actress, three for Lead Actress), including a win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. She was also nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and won, in 2003, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy. According to the Guinness World Book of Records (2005), Aniston (along with her female costars) became the highest paid TV actress of all time with her US$1 million-per-episode paycheck for the tenth season of Friends. Her relationship with Ross Geller, portrayed by David Schwimmer in the show was widely popular among audiences and the couple were frequently voted as TV’s favorite couple by polls and magazines.
Following a four-year hiatus from cinema, Aniston returned to film work in 1996, when she performed in the ensemble cast of the independent films She’s the One (1996), and Dream for an Insomniac (1998). Aniston’s first starring vehicle was the film Picture Perfect (1997), in which she starred opposite Kevin Bacon and Jay Mohr. While the film received mixed reviews, Aniston’s performance was more warmly received, with many critics suggesting that she had screen presence. She starred in the cult film Office Space (1999) for director Mike Judge. She appeared in The Object of My Affection (1998), a comedy-drama about a woman who falls for a gay man (played by Paul Rudd).
She gained critical acclaim for her performance in the low-budget film The Good Girl (2002), playing an unglamorous cashier who cheats on her husband. The latter film opened in relatively few theaters – under 700 in total – taking US$14 million in the U.S. box office. In 2002, film critic Roger Ebert declared the role as her breakthrough film, stating that, “after languishing in a series of overlooked movies that ranged from the entertaining Office Space to the disposable Picture Perfect (1997), Jennifer Aniston has at last decisively broken with her “Friends” image in an independent film of satiric fire and emotional turmoil. It will no longer be possible to consider her in the same way.”
2003–11: Film career
Aniston’s biggest box office success to date was her appearance in the comedy Bruce Almighty (2003), in which she played the girlfriend of Jim Carrey’s title character. Aniston then starred in the romantic comedy film Along Came Polly (2004) opposite Ben Stiller. Aniston appeared in two major studio films, the thriller Derailed (2005), and the rom-com Rumor Has It… (2005). Aniston appeared in the low-budget drama Friends with Money (2006), which was first shown at the Sundance Film Festival and received a limited release. Aniston’s next film was the romantic comedy The Break-Up (2006) alongside Vince Vaughn which received mixed reviews. The A.V. Club‘s Keith Phipps gave the film a negative review stating, “It’s like watching the ‘we were on a break’ episode of Friends stretched to feature length, and without the blessed relief of commercial breaks or the promise of Seinfeld around the corner.” CinemaBlend gave the film a positive review stating, “In an era of formulaic romantic movies that bear no resemblance to reality, The Break-Up offers a refreshing flipside.” It was released on June 2 and grossed approximately US$39.17 million during its opening weekend. The film was successful at the box office grossing US$204 million worldwide.
Aniston directed a hospital emergency room-set short film called Room 10 (2006), starring Robin Wright and Kris Kristofferson as part of Glamour‘s Reel Moments film series. Aniston noted that she was inspired to direct by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who also directed a short film in 2006. In 2007, Aniston guest starred in an episode of Courteney Cox Arquette’s series Dirt, playing Arquette’s rival, Tina Harrod. She appeared in the third episode of Season 3 of NBC’s 30 Rock playing Liz Lemon’s old college roommate who stalks Jack Donaghy.
On December 25, 2008, the comedy-drama Marley & Me, in which Aniston starred alongside Owen Wilson, was released. It set a record for the largest Christmas Day box office ever with US$14.75 million in ticket sales. It earned a total of US$51.7 million over the four-day weekend and placed number one at the box office, a position it maintained for two weeks. The total worldwide gross was US$242.7 million. Her next film in wide release, the romantic comedy-drama He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), where she starred opposite Ben Affleck, opened in February. The movie grossed $178.8 million globally and ranked at number one at the United States box office for its opening weekend. While the film received mixed reviews, Aniston, along with Affleck, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Jennifer Connelly, were often praised by critics as being the stand-outs in the film.
On July 16, 2009, Aniston received an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role on 30 Rock. Aniston was a guest star on the season 2 premiere of ABC’s sitcom Cougar Town, playing a psychiatrist.Her announcement to appear on Cougar Town garnered excitement and was dubbed as her return to television. The A.V. Club wrote, “Aniston plays Jules’ therapist, and the part is more or less a twist on the old, ‘The psychiatrist is crazier than the patient!’ gimmick, though the show has a lot of fun with the idea that the therapist is obviously batshit […] It’s a funny bit, and it highlights just how much Jennifer Aniston is built to be a TV star.” Numerous media outlets also praised her performance.
In March 2010, Aniston appeared in the romantic comedy action film The Bounty Hunter, which costarred Gerard Butler. The film was panned by critics. The Hollywood Reporter described it as a “mishmash ends up as a thoroughly unfunny adult cartoon.” It was a modest box office success, garnering over US$130 million worldwide. A lukewarm box-office reception greeted her next film, the romantic comedy The Switch (2010), in which she co-starred with Jason Bateman. The film’s opening weekend drew what The Hollywood Reporter dubbed “a dispiriting US$8.4 million.” The film received generally mixed reviews, with review site Metacritic showing 13 out of 30 critics delivering a positive verdict.
By June 20, 2010, Aniston’s movies had grossed more than US$1 billion in the United States and over US$1.7 billion worldwide. Aniston’s romantic comedy Just Go with It (2011), with Adam Sandler, was released on Valentine’s Day weekend. The story is about a plastic surgeon, played by Sandler, who asks his office manager, played by Aniston, to pose as his wife, to prove his honesty to his much younger girlfriend, played by Brooklyn Decker. Aniston starred in the comedy movie Horrible Bosses (2011), with Colin Farrell, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jamie Foxx, directed by Seth Gordon. The film focuses on a trio of employees who plot to murder their titular tyrannical supervisors. Aniston played one of the bosses, a sexually aggressive dentist who harasses Charlie Day’s character. She reprised her role in the sequel Horrible Bosses 2 (2014).
Aniston appeared in the comedy Wanderlust (2012) with Paul Rudd, with whom she co-starred in the movie The Object of My Affection (1998) and also Friends. The script for Wanderlust, bought by Universal Pictures, was written by Rudd, Ken Marino, and David Wain, with the latter also directing the film, and was produced by Judd Apatow. The movie was about a married couple who join a commune after losing their money and deciding modern life is not for them. Wanderlust received mixed reviews and was a box office failure, grossing only $21 million worldwide, against a production budget of $35 million.
Aniston starred with Jason Sudeikis in EUE/Screen Gems Productions’ We’re the Millers (2013), filmed in the summer of 2012 in Wilmington, North Carolina and in the state of New Mexico. The film, a comedy about a drug dealer with a fake family, received mixed reviews from critics. We’re the Millers was a financial success grossing US$269 million against a budget of US$37 million. Aniston played the role of Mickey Dawson in Life of Crime (2014), a film adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1978 novel The Switch. Catherine Shoard of The Guardian described her performance as “endearingly comic” and Eric Kohn of Indie Wire wrote that her role in the film outshone every recent film performance by her stating, “Aniston tops any of her recent performances with a spirited turn that harkens back to her neurotic days on Friends.” The movie was released in the US to positive reviews. The cast include Tim Robins, John Hawkes, Mos Def, Isla Fisher, Will Forte and Mark Boone Junior.
Aniston starred in the film Cake (2014), directed by Daniel Barnz, portraying an astringent woman named Claire Simmons who struggles with chronic pain. The film received mixed reviews, however Aniston’s performance was highly praised, dubbed by some critics as “Oscar-worthy.” The Toronto International Film Festival called her performance “heartbreakingly good”, Gregory Ellwood of HitFix stated, “It’s really on most people’s radar for being a rare dramatic turn for Jennifer Aniston, and she doesn’t disappoint.” He further stated, “Aniston makes you believe in Claire’s pain. She makes you believe this character is at her lowest point and only she can pull herself out of it. […] It’s a complete performance from beginning to end and she deserves the appropriate accolades for it.” For her portrayal, Aniston was nominated for the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. The movie also starred Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy.
In 2015, she played Jane Claremont in She’s Funny That Way directed by Peter Bogdanovich. The movie was produced by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, and starred Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Kathryn Hahn, Rhys Ifans and Will Forte.
Aniston will star in the romantic comedy Mother’s Day (2016), directed by Garry Marshall and co-starring Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson and Jason Sudeikis. The film is set to be released in April 2016. In December 2015, she started shooting the war drama film The Yellow Birds, directed by Alexandre Moors, starring alongside Alden Ehrenreich, Tye Sheridan, Jack Huston and Toni Collette.
Other work and business ventures
Aniston has appeared in various commercials and music videos throughout her career. In 1996, she was in Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers music video for “Walls”. In 2001, Aniston was in Melissa Etheridge’s music video for “I Want To Be In Love”. She was cast in a Heineken commercial which was later banned in the U.S. due to branding issues. Aniston has also been in commercials for L’Oreal hair products. In 1995, Aniston and her Friends co-star Matthew Perry shot a 60-minute instructional video for the release of Microsoft’s Windows 95 operating system. Along with Brad Pitt and Brad Grey, CEO of Paramount Pictures, Aniston founded the film production company Plan B Entertainment in 2002, although she and Grey withdrew in 2005. In 2008, she and producer Kristin Hahn formed the production company Echo Films.
Thanks to a contract sign with Elizabeth Arden, Inc., Aniston worked for over a year on a new perfume, which was released on July 21, 2010, at Harrods in London.Original plans called for the perfume to be named Lolavie by Jennifer Aniston, but to avoid confusion with a similarly named perfume, the name was changed to simply Jennifer Aniston. In an interview following the launch, Aniston said that she would also like to create a fragrance for men. In 2014, she launched her second perfume named J by Jennifer Aniston, and in 2015 launched her third perfume named Near Dusk by Jennifer Aniston.
Since 2007, Aniston has worked in a publicity campaign for the drink SmartWater; on March 7, 2011, she released a YouTube video, titled “Jennifer Aniston Goes Viral”, for SmartWater, which tripled online interest in the product within 24 hours of its release. In January 2013, Aniston became the new spokesperson and face of Aveeno Skincare. The commercials began airing in May 2013. She is also a spokesperson and co-owner of hair care brand Living Proof. In 2015, she became the new face of Emirates airline in a deal reported to be roughly US$5 million.
Aniston is a supporter of Friends of El Faro, a grassroots non-profit organization that helps raise money for Casa Hogar Sion, an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. She has appeared in many TV commercials for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, which she supports. She also hosted September 2008’s Stand Up to Cancer show. In the “It Can’t Wait” campaign to free Burma, Aniston directed and starred in a video.
On April 14, 2007, Aniston received GLAAD’s Vanguard Award for her contributions to increased visibility and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. On Earth Day 2010, she joined Courteney Cox, Woody Harrelson, Ben Stiller and others, in “The Cove PSA: My Friend is…”, an effort to stop the slaughter of dolphins and protect the Japanese people from the toxic levels of mercury found in dolphin meat. Other charities that Aniston has supported include AmeriCares, Clothes Off Our Back, Feeding America, EB Medical Research Foundation, Project A.L.S., OmniPeace, and Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Aniston donated US$500,000 to Doctors Without Borders, Haitian health care provider Partners in Health and AmeriCares, and also participated in the Hope for Haiti Now telethon.
In 2013, she was named the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) ambassador for the Saks Fifth Avenue Key To The Cure campaign, which raises funds for the EIF Women’s Cancer Research Fund to support research into the detection, treatment, and cures for women’s cancers. In 2015, she supported the Comic Relief, Inc. charity.
In 1995, Aniston dated musician Adam Duritz. She also dated actor Tate Donovan from late 1995 until 1998.
Aniston’s high-profile relationship with actor Brad Pitt was frequently publicized in the press. She married Pitt, after two years of dating, on July 29, 2000 in a lavish Malibu wedding. For a few years, their marriage was considered the rare Hollywood success, but on January 7, 2005 they announced their separation and finalized their divorce on October 2, 2005. During their divorce proceedings there was intense speculation in the media that Pitt had been unfaithful to Aniston with his Mr. & Mrs. Smith co-star Angelina Jolie, whom he started dating soon after the split. In the following months, the public’s reaction toward the divorce was reported in the press, and “Team Aniston” and “Team Jolie” T-shirts appeared throughout the country. The divorce made the front-pages of tabloid magazines for years, and it still continues to be discussed in the media. Aniston commented on the divorce in a January 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter , stating that “Nobody did anything wrong…. It was just like, sometimes things [happen].”
In 2005, media reports speculated that the split was due to Aniston’s refusal to have children with Pitt. Aniston denied that this was the cause of their split in an August 2005 Vanity Fair magazine interview, stating, “I’ve never in my life said I didn’t want to have children. I did and I do and I will… I would never give up that experience for a career.” Aniston also revealed that her divorce prompted her to reach out to her mother, Nancy, from whom she was estranged for nearly a decade. They initially became estranged when Nancy talked about her daughter on a television show and later wrote a book entitled, From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir (1999). Aniston has also stated she was devastated by the death of her longtime therapist, whose work helped make her separation from Pitt easier. Aniston said her relationship with Pitt, which she does not regret, was “seven very intense years together” and that “it was a beautiful, complicated relationship”.
Aniston dated actor Vince Vaughn from 2005 to December 2006. She subsequently dated musician John Mayer from 2008 to 2009.
Aniston started a relationship with actor, director and screenwriter Justin Theroux in May 2011. In January 2012, Aniston and Theroux purchased a home in Los Angeles’s Bel-Air neighborhood for roughly US$22 million. They became engaged on August 10, 2012 and married on August 5, 2015 at their Bel Air estate.
Health and fitness
Aniston practices yoga and a style of Karate called Budokon. In 2014, Aniston spoke of her Transcendental Meditation practice. When asked what the number one thing which has kept her looking so amazing is, she replied, “I’d say a little over a year ago I started doing TM and that’s really changed everything. Starting your day off with that and ending with that is pretty powerful.”
In January 2015, Aniston revealed that she was diagnosed with dyslexia in her 20s which affected her education and self-esteem. As a result, she does not read a lot. However, being diagnosed with the disorder changed her life. She stated, “I thought I wasn’t smart. I just couldn’t retain anything. Now I had this great discovery. I felt like all of my childhood trauma-dies, tragedies, dramas were explained.”
In the media
In 2007, Forbes rated Aniston as one of the top 20 richest women in entertainment and estimated her net worth to be about US$110 million. Aniston was also included in the annual Star Salary Top 10 of trade magazine The Hollywood Reporter for 2006. According to Forbes, in October 2007, Aniston was the top-selling celebrity face of the entertainment industry. She was also Hollywood’s most profitable actress. Aniston has been on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list, based on “earnings and fame”, every year since 2001, topping the list in 2003. For the year of 2008, Forbes listed Aniston’s earnings as US$27 million. In 2014, Aniston ranked 3rd on Forbes Top Earning Actresses, earning US$31 million in that year. Her net worth is estimated to be US$150 million as of 2014.
In 2005, Aniston became the first-ever GQ Woman of the Year. She has frequently appeared on People‘s annual list of The Most Beautiful, and came in at number-one in 2004. She also topped the magazine’s Best Dressed List in 2006. She has been a regular on FHM‘s 100 Sexiest Women list since 1996, ranking at number 79 in 2012, number 81 in 2010, number 24 in 2009 and number 27 in 2008. In 2011, The Daily Telegraph reported the most sought after body parts of the rich and famous revealed by two Hollywood plastic surgeons who carried out a survey among their patients to build up the picture of what the perfect woman would look like. Under the category of the most sought after body shape, Aniston was voted in the top three alongside, Gisele Bündchen and Penélope Cruz. In the same year, readers of Men’s Health magazine voted Aniston the “Sexiest Woman of All Time”.
Although Aniston disliked the hairstyle she wore during her first two years on Friends, “The Rachel” became and remains very popular among women. Aniston received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 22, 2012. The star is located at 6270 Hollywood Boulevard, in front of The W Hollywood Hotel. It is recognized as STAR 2, 462nd. On Forbes‘ list of the 100 Most Powerful Actresses in Hollywood, Aniston was ranked number-8 in 2009, number-2 in both 2011 and 2012, and number-3 in 2013.
Aniston’s accolades include a Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
- Leprechaun (1993)
- She’s the One (1996)
- Picture Perfect (1997)
- The Object of My Affection (1998)
- Office Space (1999)
- The Iron Giant (1999)
- Rock Star (2001)
- The Good Girl (2002)
- Bruce Almighty (2003)
- Along Came Polly (2004)
- Derailed (2005)
- Rumor Has It… (2005)
- The Break-Up (2006)
- Marley & Me (2008)
- He’s Just Not That into You (2009)
- The Bounty Hunter (2010)
- The Switch (2010)
- Just Go with It (2011)
- Horrible Bosses (2011)
- Wanderlust (2012)
- We’re the Millers (2013)
- Life of Crime (2014)
- Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)
- Cake (2015)
- She’s Funny That Way (2015)
- Mother’s Day (2016)
- The Yellow Birds (2016)