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Jennifer Aniston - From a hair cut to Hollywood royalty
Jennifer Aniston has long been considered Hollywood’s official girl next door. However, as Canadian gossip guru Lainey Liu points out, she’s only the girl next door if “you live in a $7 million mansion with another $10 million in upgrades,” which, presumably, most of us don’t. We’d like to extrapolate a little on Lainey’s logic. The girls next door to most of us do not count Brad Pitt and Vince Vaughan on their ex-boyfriend list. The girls next door to most of us occasionally have bad hair days. Even if you added up all the paycheques they’ve ever earned in their lifetimes, the girls next door to most of us have not earned a million dollars, much less earned it in a week’s worth of work. And, while I can’t speak for all girls out there, I can say with certainty that I have never noticed Courtney Cox Arquette popping by the apartment of the girl next door to me for a girl’s night. No matter how you look at it, Jennifer Aniston’s experiences do not typify those of the all-American girl, next door or otherwise. Nevertheless, fans can’t help but see Jennifer Aniston as totally relatable, the one actress you’d want as your best girlfriend. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she first became famous for being a good Friend. Few of us have memories of Jennifer aniston before her legendary role as Rachel Green on the legendary TV series Friends.
However, Jennifer Aniston had been an actress since the 1980s. She was born on February 11, 1969, in Sherman Oaks, California, but grew up in New York City. Jennifer Aniston was born with show business in her blood: her mother is actress Nancy Dow, and her father is actor John Aniston (most famous for his role as Victor Kiriakis on the popular soap opera Days of our Lives). John Aniston, by the way, was born on the Greek island of Crete. He came to America as Ioannis Anastasakis. Jen, then, has Greek roots. She also has a Greek godfather: the late actor Terry Savalas. This connection to Greece is the reason why she was deemed an appropriate person to run the Olympic torch during the Olympics in Athens even though no one had ever heard of her being involved in any particular sport. It is unclear when exactly Jennifer Aniston decided to pursue an acting career, but it must have been before her teenage years, because she ended up attending and graduating from Manhattan’s Fiorello H. Laguardia High School of Arts and Performing Arts. (She was losing the Girl Next Door criteria already; her closest friend at this time was Chastity Bono.) After graduation, Jennifer Aniston began appearing in off-Broadway productions. In between theatre gigs, she supported herself by working as a bike messenger and telemarketer. The first notable acting role Jennifer Aniston had was on The Howard Stern Radio Show. Here, she appeared during the 1980s and early 1990s as a “Nutri-System” girl. She then moved to Hollywood and landed a couple of minor roles on short-lived TV series and TV movies.
Those of us who were avid sitcom-watchers in the early 1990s remember her co-starring role on Ferris Bueller, the TV series version of the hit 1986 movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The TV series was apparently made too late; no one cared about poor Ferris anymore (or, for that matter, Jen) and the show lived a very short life. What followed were more cancelled TV shows. No wonder poor Jennifer Aniston eventually started weighing the pros and cons of a career change. Then, Jennifer Aniston’s luck changed dramatically. She was called in to audition for the upcoming NBC sitcom Friends for the role of neat freak Monica Geller. At the auditions, Jennifer Aniston convinced the producers that she’d be better as Rachel Green. The producers agreed that she was not only better, she was perfect. Jennifer Aniston landed the role, and a celebrity was born. The success of Friends was unparalleled. The show ran for a whopping ten seasons, from 1994 to 2004. The trials and tribulations of the characters of Friends were considered symbolic of an entire generation (ironic, since most members of that generation were struggling to split rent with scummy roommates on entry-level salaries, while Jennifer Aniston’s character, Rachel, managed to afford a pretty nice centrally-located Manhattan apartment while working as a coffee shop waitress). Jennifer aniston’s role was particularly poignant: as Rachel Green, the spoiled, rich Daddy’s girl who slowly metamorhposized into an independent career woman and successful single mother, she was one-half of one of television history’s onscreen supercouples, Ross and Rachel. Many a viewer who came of age during the 1990s remembers the scene where Ross was confirmed as Rachel’s lobster, followed by the scene where Ross and Rachel made love in a museum prehistoric man exhibit, as fondly as they do their own real-life memories.
Rumor has it that Friends viewership fluctuated according to whether Ross and Rachel were together at the time, or one of their many “breaks.” Many fans literally couldn’t bear to see Ross and Rachel part. During Friends’ ten-year run, Jennifer Aniston graced thousands of magazine covers worldwide. However, it wasn’t just her role as Rachel that was getting attention. The Hairstyles of Jennifer Aniston had garnered much attention. Whatever ‘do Jen was sporting would be the ‘do of choice of young women everywhere. Jennifer Aniston’s short, layered haircut, known as “the Rachel,” was sported by young women worldwide in the mid-to-late nineties. Later, when Rachel had long, flat-ironed, highlighted locks, so too did everyone else. Even today, three years after Friends has been laid to rest, Jennifer Aniston Hair remains a popular online search term (almost as popular as Jennifer Aniston subu) as women in hairstyle ruts turn to the Hairstyles of Jennifer Aniston for inspiration. Even more exciting than Jennifer Aniston hair, however, was the news of Jennifer Aniston’s new boyfriend. The girl next door had nabbed the Hollywood heartthrob: Brad Pitt. The couple married in an extravagant Malibu wedding in July 2000. For five long years, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston smiled smugly in magazine photos, their respective perfect blond locks flowing.
Rumor has it that they were quite a generous couple, one year deciding to go so far as to NOT give each other Christmas presents and to donate $200,000 to charity instead. The Girl Next Door to me was thankful when she had enough cash left over to donate ten bucks to a local children’s hospital last Christmas. Then again, considering their combined incomes, $200,000 for Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston probably IS the equivalent of ten bucks for my neighbor, so perhaps this little anecdote is a point in the Girl Next Door column for Jen after all. Around this time, Jennifer Aniston began her ascent into her spot as one of Hollywood’s top ten richest women. She (and her co-stars) were treated to a raise at work; they now received a whopping one million dollars per episode of Friends. This salary earned Jennifer Aniston and co-stars Lisa Kudrow and Courtney Cox Arquette spots in the Guiness Book of World Records as the highest-paid TV actresses in history. Jennifer Aniston also had some pretty lucrative jobs on the side. She appeared in several box-office hit movies over the years, such as Bruce Almighty, Along Came Polly, and the classic Office Space. Reviews for her movie roles were mixed—some argued she was merely playing Rachel Green over and over again in different settings—but all of the people she worked with raved about her charm and her sense of humor. (Anyone who’s seen the backstage interviews on the collector’s edition of Office Space will know what we’re talking about.) She continues to act in major motion pictures with big budgets and bad reviews, most recently the critically-dismissed Rumor Has It. (Ironically, her most critically acclaimed film performance to date has been for the low-budget film The Good Girl.) Jennifer Aniston is also known for her role in the blockbuster film The Break-Up. The movie did well at the blockbuster, but its outtakes garnered even more attention: shots of Jennifer Aniston topless appeared online, and search engine hits for Jennifer Aniston nude hit an all-time high. But getting back to Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt.
The paparazzi loved Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, and Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, apparently, loved the paparazzi. They had no qualms about posing for photos, waving at the camera, and sharing private little tidbits with the press, such as their plans to quit smoking and start a family. Apparently, both plans fell through. Photographers continued to snap photos of Brad and Jen puffing away, later attaching intriguing captions to the photos of the once-happy couple: “He wants a baby. She wants to work. Can Brad and Jen survive?” Rumors flew. No one, it seemed, could accept that these two perfect people could be perfectly happy. And then, one sad day in 2005 one horrible rumor proved true. Brad Pitt had fallen in love with his co-star on Mr. and Mrs. Smith. He was leaving the toned arms of Jennifer Aniston into the even fitter ones of Angelina Jolie. It’s never been confirmed that Brad Pitt is a cheater or that Angelina Jolie was a homewrecker; the two maintain they were just friends until Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston had split up over irreconcilable differences. But most people still believe that the only “irreconcilable difference” here was the fact that Brad Pitt had fallen for Angelina Jolie. It was the Girl Next Door versus the High School Vixen—except that in this case, the High School Vixen was actually a world-renowned humanitarian, an actress with a repertoire far more diverse than Jen’s, and generally hard to dislike. Brad and Jen fans tried to hate Angelina Jolie.
Tabloids, too, tried to make Brad and Jen fans hate Angelina Jolie, publicizing the fact that Jennifer Aniston’s divorce had landed her into therapy. Nothing worked. When the first online photos of baby Shiloh appeared, no one could help but coo. Eventually, the tabloids gave up. If anyone was to blame in this triangle, it would have to be Brad Pitt, who had, in caveman fashion, put the ticking of his own paternal clock above the career aspirations of his devoted wife. And the world certainly wasn’t ready to dislike Brad Pitt. It was much easier for everyone to just put the whole thing aside, let Brangelina adopt children in peace, and focus instead on the future. After all, Jennifer Aniston certainly was. She’d rebounded into the bed of hunky actor Vince Vaughan. Again, rumors flew: was Vince Vaughan about to pop the question? No, he wasn’t. Unlike Brad Pitt, Vince Vaughan wasn’t ready to smile for the camera. He escaped Jennifer Aniston’s paparazzi-plagued universe, but the two remain friends.
To finish up, let’s do a quick rundown of the headlines Jennifer Aniston is making these days. Her best friend is Courtney Cox Arquette, with whom she shared a kiss on camera to help boost ratings for Courtney Cox’s fledgling new show. Her biggest enemy is Angelina Jolie, whom Jen still blames for the divorce even though Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie swear they didn’t hook up until after Brad and Jen had split. She lives in a multimillion-dollar Los Angeles home, and has a film directorial debut on the way. Is Jennifer Aniston really America’s Girl Next Door? Go take a look at the girl next door to you, who is probably bingeing on cheap ice cream in front of Friends reruns, watching her second-hand phone and hoping that cute guy from her crappy workplace where she makes her measly entry-level salary will call. Then, decide.