With a Little Help From "Friends"
She'll always be remembered as Rachel Green on NBC's long-running sitcom, but 14 years after "Friends" ended, Jennifer Aniston remains one of the most popular—and highest-paid—actresses in Hollywood. Here, for her birthday, are 20 facts that will intrigue you.
Her Dad Tried to Talk Her Into Another Profession
John Aniston has played the role of Victor Kiriakis on NBC's daytime soap "Days of Our Lives" since 1985. Aniston did not want his daughter to follow in his footsteps, though. Jennifer recalls his advice to her when she was young: "He said, 'I do not want your heart broken. The rejection is brutal. Please, please, please don't do that. Become a lawyer.'"
She Broke Ties With Her Mom
In 1999, after Aniston had become a big star on "Friends," her mother, Nancy Dow, wrote a book entitled "From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir." Dow's unflattering depiction of her daughter in interviews so enraged Jen that she didn't invite her mom to her 2000 wedding to Brad Pitt. The mother and daughter remained estranged for years.
She Has a Famous Godfather
That would be the late Telly Savalas, aka "Kojak." He and Jennifer's dad, both of Greek heritage, were close friends when she was born in 1969. According to family lore, baby Jen once threw up in the back of Telly's Rolls-Royce. When her godfather died in 1994 Jennifer attended his funeral in Los Angeles. Frank Sinatra was also in attendance.
One of Her Paintings Was in a Museum
When she was 11 and attending the Rudolf Steiner elementary school in New York, one of her paintings was included in an exhibition at the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art. Jen later attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, better known as the "Fame" school.
She’s in Two Music Videos
Aniston appears briefly in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' 1996 "Walls" video. Then, in 2001, she starred in Melissa Etheridge's video for "I Want to Be In Love." Etheridge, a longtime friend of Jennifer's then-husband Brad Pitt, had performed at the couple's wedding a year earlier.
She Pitched Nutri-System on “Howard Stern”
In 1989, a 20-year-old Jennifer appeared as the Nutri-System girl on "The Howard Stern Show." She claimed to have lost 15 pounds on the diet program. In 2015, Stern attended Jennifer's wedding to Justin Theroux, and was even asked to give a speech at the reception.
She Took Brad’s Name
When Aniston married Brad Pitt in 2000, she did an old-fashioned thing: She changed her legal name to Jennifer Pitt. When she married Justin Theroux in 2015, the couple made no mention of any name change.
She Suffers from Dyslexia
While growing up, Aniston said not long ago, "I thought I wasn't smart. I couldn't retain anything." She wasn't diagnosed with dyslexia until she was in her 20s. Her struggle with reading persisted, and Jen has said that she rarely reads even today.
She Had a Slow Start
Aniston's first four TV shows—"Molly," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "The Edge" and "Muddling Through"—all fizzled. One night a dejected Jennifer approached NBC's then-president Warren Littlefield at a gas station in Los Angeles. "Is it ever going to happen?" she asked, to which Littlefield replied, "We believe in you." Just a few months later she was cast in "Friends."
She Passed on “Saturday Night Live”
Adam Sandler recalled his reaction when Aniston tuned down the chance to join the "SNL" cast: "She said no? She's going to do that 'Friends'? What the hell is 'Friends'?'"
Her Salary Went Off the Charts
In 1994, during the first season of "Friends," the six main cast members were paid $22,000 per episode. In 1997, they made an unprecedented move and negotiated their salaries together, after which each actor made $100,000 per episode. When the series ended in 2004, Jennifer and her pals were each being paid a cool $1 million per episode.
She Wasn’t a Fan of the Hair
Countless women adopted her "Friends" hairstyle, which became known as "The Rachel," but Jen didn't share their enthusiasm. "I was not a fan of The Rachel," she told Glamour magazine. "I couldn't do it on my own. Left to my own devices, I am not skilled with a hairbrush and blow-dryer."
One Episode Was Especially Tough for Jen's Best Friend
Aniston and Courteney Cox became real-life best friends while doing "Friends," and they remain so today. An episode in Season 8 has Rachel (Jennifer) having a baby with Monica (Courtney) at her side. When the scene was filmed, Cox had just suffered a miscarriage. "Oh my God," she recalled, "it was terrible having to be funny."
They Sneaked Her Real Name Into “Friends”
In the two-part episode "The One With Monica and Chandler's Wedding," there's a scene that involves Rachel frantically trying to find a minister to officiate. She passes outside another wedding for the "Anastasakis" party. Anastasakis was her family's real surname before it was changed to Aniston.
She’s Afraid of the Water
The fear stems from a childhood incident: Jen rode her bicycle into a swimming pool and thought she would drown. In her 2014 movie "Cake," she plays a woman suffering from chronic back pain who tries water therapy. It took 30 takes to film the water therapy scene.
She Said No to Playboy
After she appeared wearing nothing but a necktie on the cover of the January 2009 issue of "GQ," Hugh Hefner offered Aniston $4 million to pose for his magazine. She turned him down. "GQ is art," Jen said. "Playboy is sex."
She Might Have Starred in "Titanic"
Before Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio landed the starring roles in the 1997 blockbuster "Titanic," many other actors were considered. Aniston was on the short list for the part of Rose—and so was Jen's future husband Brad Pitt's future wife, Angelina Jolie. Meanwhile, Pitt himself was in the running for the role of Jack. Small world.
Rumor Had It That She Didn't Want Children
When her marriage to Brad Pitt fell apart, a story circulated that one of the problems (in addition to Pitt hooking up with Angelina Jolie) was Jennifer's refusal to have kids. She denied this, telling Vanity Fair, "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." That was over a decade ago and Jen still hasn't had any kids.
Her Go-To Recipe Is for Pasta Carbonara.
Though her favorite food is Mexican, when it comes to cooking at home Aniston favors what she calls a "lean" pasta dish. "Pasta is the only one I really, really like to do," she once said. "The one I make all the time is a lean carbonara. On the pasta, I put eggs, cheese, turkey bacon and a little sautéed red onion and garlic. It's simple—no cream, no butter, no oil, no nothing."
She’s Worth a Bundle
Aniston has been on Forbes' list of highest-earning actresses every year since 2001, and in 2017 the magazine estimated her net worth to be $200 million. Her 2017 earnings were said to be $25.5 million, second only to Emma Watson's $26 million paycheck.
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