Jennifer Aniston- Biography

Also Credited As:

Jennifer Joanne Aniston

About Jennifer Aniston

Thanks to a rare combination of winsome girl-next-door charm and vulnerability, as well as wholesome sex appeal and whip-smart comic timing, actress Jennifer Aniston found television stardom playing Rachel Green, the spoiled rich girl making her way in life as a waitress and fashion buyer on the hit sitcom, "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004). Perhaps one of the most popular television actresses of her era, Aniston emerged from relative obscurity after toiling in the backwater of television on several comedy series that failed to survive long enough to make an impression. But with "Friends," Aniston suddenly found herself at the top of the celebrity heap while dominating much of the publicity of an ensemble cast that boasted the likes of Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry. Meanwhile, she began a strong second career in features that allowed her to display a wider array of talent. Aniston essayed both dramatic and comedic roles in films like "The Object of My Affection" (1998), "Office Space" (1999) and "The Good Girl" (2002), which confirmed that she was not to be confined by mere sitcoms. But aside from her career, she was the subject of sometimes unfortunate tabloid coverage - mainly over her very public divorce from husband Brad Pitt, as well as her shorter relationships with Vince Vaughn and John Mayer - confirming that Aniston was in a celebrity class all her own.

Born on Feb. 11, 1969 in Sherman Oaks, CA, Aniston was raised in New York City by her father, longtime daytime soap actor John Aniston, and her mother, Nancy, a former model-actress turned photographer. Despite her father's television career, Aniston was actively steered away from watching TV, though she found ways around the prohibition. When she was six, Aniston began attending the Rudolf Steiner School, a Waldorf educational school that applied the Rudolf Steiner philosophy of integrating artistic and analytic learning to fulfill a child's unique and untapped destiny. In perhaps a sign of thing to come, Aniston's father left her mother for another woman when she was nine. Meanwhile, after discovering acting at 11 while attending Rudolf Steiner, Aniston enrolled at the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, where she joined the school's drama society. After graduating, she began performing in several off-Broadway productions, including "For Dear Life" at the Public Theater, while working as a bicycle messenger - among other odd jobs - to pay the rent.

Following a stint as a regular on Howard Stern's terrestrial radio show, Aniston moved to Los Angeles and immediately began landing supporting roles on several short-lived sitcoms, mainly playing the spoiled or bratty sibling on the likes of "Molloy" (Fox, 1989) and "Ferris Bueller" (NBC, 1990-91). After making her television movie debut in "Camp Cucamonga" (NBC, 1990), Aniston had a short stint on the Fox variety sketch series "The Edge" (1992-93), which helped to further hone her comedic chops, especially in a memorable skit as a member of the paranoid, weapons-toting "Armed Family." Though she was landing enough roles to qualify as a working actress - including episodes of "Quantum Leap" (NBC, 1988-1993), "Herman's Head" (Fox, 1991-94) and "Burke's Law" (CBS, 1993-95) - by the time she appeared in the widely-rejected film "Leprechaun" (1993), Aniston was prepared to call it quits. But when an agent suggested she drop 30 pounds - which apparently was preventing her from landing better roles - Aniston decided to continue making the push. Her persistence paid off when in 1994 she landed the role of Rachel Green on a new sitcom called "Friends."

No one who was a part of the "Friends" phenomenon could have ever predicted beforehand the show's unbridled success and substantial influence on the cultural zeitgeist. From the first season until its last a decade later, "Friends" was one of the most watched and discussed sitcoms on television. The show focused on six close-knit Gen-X friends struggling to make good in Manhattan: Monica Geller (Courteney Cox), a would-be chef with an obsession for neatness and order; Rachel Green (Aniston), Monica's pampered best friend from high school who walks out on her groom; Ross (David Schwimmer), Monica's older brother and a paleontologist with an age-old crush on Rachel; Chandler (Matthew Perry), a lovable wiseguy who works as a corporate numbers cruncher; Joey (Matt LeBlanc), a struggling actor and resident airhead; and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), an offbeat folk singer and massage therapist. Throughout the course of the show's 10 seasons, Aniston's Rachel - one of the standout characters - went from being a pampered daddy's girl to an assured, self-reliant woman whose on-again, off-again romance with Ross was the hot topic around office water coolers. But perhaps the character's greatest influence in the first few seasons was her shag hairdo - known simply as The Rachel" - that was widely copied by young women in the mid-1990s.

In 1995, her mother went on national television and divulged personal childhood information that infuriated Aniston to the point of cutting off communication. Four years later, her mother exacerbated the estrangement by publishing a book, From Mother and Daughter to Friends (1999), which documented their strained relationships while detailing her own life's ups and downs. Meanwhile, Aniston reveled in the success of "Friends," which helped launch a second career in mainly independent feature films. She landed a supporting turn as the unhappily married wife of a womanizing stockbroker in Edward Burns' "She's the One" (1996), then had an acerbic cameo as an overwhelmed young woman juggling career and motherhood in the otherwise forgettable "'Til There Was You" (1997). Her first lead, playing an ambitious advertising executive who creates a fake boyfriend to insure her climb up the corporate ladder, in "Picture Perfect" (1997) proved both a critical and box-office disappointment. But Aniston bounced back in the more dramatic role of a pregnant woman who forms a bond with her gay roommate (Paul Rudd) in the modest hit, "The Object of My Affection" (1998).

To the delight of film geeks everywhere, Aniston had a memorable supporting role in "Office Space" (1999), Mike Judge's hilarious satire on the drudgery and absurdity of corporate life. Aniston played Joanna, a dissatisfied waitress who meets a bored office drone (Ron Livingston) acting out his inner slacker fantasies after a mishap with a hypnotist. Meanwhile, in 1998, Aniston became romantically linked to Hollywood's resident golden boy, Brad Pitt, which immediately became the obsession du jour of tabloids around the world. In fact, the two were Hollywood's reigning "It" couple for the next several years, especially after they were married in fairy tale-like fashion in July 2000. For a spell, they were considered a Hollywood oddity - a down-to-earth married couple who seemed destined to remain together for the rest of their lives. Despite their constant appearances together in the public eye, the couple worked together professionally only once when Pitt appeared on a 2001 episode of "Friends" as a formerly fat high school classmate with a long-simmering resentment of Rachel. Meanwhile, Aniston's film career continued unabated, as she appeared as the love interest of a salesman (Mark Wahlberg) who joins a heavy metal band in "Rock Star" (2001), anchoring the lightweight, high-concept film as its most convincing and emotional presence.

In 2002, Aniston had an impressive turn on the indie-film scene in "The Good Girl," playing a bored and forlorn Midwestern housewife dissatisfied with her life and pot-smoking husband (John C. Reilly), who discovers that bucking her staid life is harder than she imagined. For her subtly measured performance, Aniston rightly earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead. The following year, Aniston paired with Jim Carrey for the hit comedy feature "Bruce Almighty" (2003) as the girlfriend of a man gifted with God's powers. She fared even better in her follow-up, "Along Came Polly" (2004), playing against type as a free spirit who teaches her risk-fearing new beau (Ben Stiller) how to take chances. That year, Aniston and company made their final bows on "Friends." A hit during its first few seasons, "Friends" lagged a bit in the middle, only to make a dominant resurgence in the latter seasons, exiting the airwaves at the top of its ratings and comedic game. Meanwhile, the role made Aniston a superstar, earning her four consecutive Emmy nominations (2000-03) - twice as Best Supporting Actress and twice as Best Lead Actress - which led to a win in the Lead Actress category in 2002, as well as a Golden Globe the following year.

As she moved on to her next projects, Aniston found herself in the center of a media tempest when she announced her separation from husband Brad Pitt, who allegedly began a romance with actress Angelina Jolie on the set of their film "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" (2005) - a rumor that later proved to be true. The drama played out in the entertainment media for several months, with Aniston finally giving a teary-eyed interview to Vanity Fair that - while taking some pains to play fair and amicable - decidedly cast her as the unsuspecting victim, Pitt as the cad and Jolie as the home wrecker. As the media story took shape, Aniston soon became ridiculed by some who saw her as desperately holding on to Pitt's flame, while her ex - they finalized their divorce in October 2005 - traipsed around the world with Jolie, donating to world relief efforts and adopting children from impoverished countries. Some of her friends like Cox and singer Sheryl Crow rose to her defense, claiming the media portrayal was unfair - and in some cases misogynist - but by then, the damage was done to Aniston's reputation.

Ironically, during the media firestorm surrounding her painful public split from Pitt, Aniston was shooting "The Break-Up" (2006) in Chicago with actor Vince Vaughn, playing a couple struggling to continue to cohabitate in the condo both refuse to leave, despite having ended their relationship. Rumors swirled of a budding relationship between the two stars, and despite denials, they did appear to be a couple by fall of 2005 when Aniston had two films hitting theaters - "Derailed," which cast the actress and Clive Owen as two married business executives who are blackmailed by a violent criminal after they have had an affair; and Rob Reiner's "Rumor Has It," which starred Aniston as a woman who learns that her family was the inspiration for the book and film "The Graduate" (1967). Meanwhile, more rumors swirled that her and Vaughn were engaged, but by October 2006, it was clear the couple was no longer together. In April 2008, Aniston was then linked to songwriter and notorious playboy, John Mayer, who later hinted to reporters that the rumors were indeed true. Four months after Aniston and Mayer were no longer together, back-and-forth stories over who dumped who plagued the tabloids, as Aniston was again unfairly portrayed as the "desperate girl" who was unlucky in love.

Thankfully, Aniston had no shortage of projects lined up to take her mind off of personal tribulations. The often cruel blog press took gleeful delight in the title of her next project, "He's Just Not That Into You" (2009), based on the best-selling guidebook for women in bad relationships, written by former "Sex and the City" (HBO, 1998-2004) scribe, Greg Behrendt. Beating the romantic comedy into the theaters was Aniston's turn in the tender love story of a man and his dog, again based on a bestseller, "Marley & Me" (2008), co-starring Owen Wilson. Back on the small screen, Aniston earned an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for an episode of "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006- ), in which she played the former roommate of Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) who develops a stalker-like obsession with Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin).

Partners

Companion

Adam Duritz.

Companion

Charlie Schlatter. Dated when they co-starred together on Ferris Bueller (NBC) in 1990

Companion

Daniel MacDonald. Dated in the early 1990s; split just before Aniston was cast in Friends (NBC)

Companion

John Mayer. Began dating in February 2008; briefly split in August 2008, but resumed relationship in October 2008; Mayer accompanied Aniston to the 2009 Oscar ceremony in February; ended relationship in March 2009

Companion

Justin Theroux. Met in 2010 while filming Wanderlust (2012); reportedly began dating in May 2011

Companion

Paul Sculfor. Rumored to have dated for a few months in 2007

Companion

Tate Donovan. Began dating in November 1995; ended relationship in April 1998

Companion

Vince Vaughn. Rumors of the pair dating began while filming The Break Up (2006); they were first spotted kissing at a wrap party in August 2005; relationship troubles reported in September 2006 with an official split by December 2006

Husband

Brad Pitt. Met in 1998; married July 29, 2000 in Malibu, CA; announced separation Jan. 6, 2005, after more than fours years of marriage; Aniston filed for divorce in March 2005; their divorce was finalized October 2005

Family

Father

John Aniston. Born c. 1933; appeared in NBC daytime serial Days of Our Lives ; divorced Aniston s mother in 1980, leaving her for another woman; family name was originally Anastassakis

Godfather

Telly Savalas. Her father, John Aniston was good friends with the fellow Greek actor at the time of her birth; best known for his series Kojak (CBS, 1973-79); died in 1994

Half-Brother

John Melick. Born c. 1959; mother, Nancy Aniston

Mother

Nancy Dow. Born c. 1936; previously married before her 1965 marriage to John Aniston; divorced from Aniston in 1980; because of comments made in a TV interview c. 1995, daughter has ceased contact; wrote book From Mother and Daughter to Friends (1999)

Education

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, New York , New York
Rudolph Steiner School, New York , New York

Career Milestones

Appeared off-Broadway in For Dear Life at New York s Public Theater
Born in Sherman Oaks, CA
Lost 30 pounds after her agent suggested she wasn t being cast because of her weight
Raised in New York City after parents divorce

1989

Moved to Los Angeles

1990

Cast as Jeannie Bueller in Ferris Bueller (NBC) a TV adaptation of the 1986 hit movie

1990

TV series debut, Molloy (Fox) playing the spoiled stepsister of the title character

1990

TV-movie debut, Camp Cucamonga (NBC)

1992

Appeared on two episodes of Fox sitcom Herman s Head

1992

Cast as a regular on the Fox sketch variety series The Edge

1993

Feature acting debut, Leprechaun

1994

Breakthrough role as Rachel Green on the NBC ensemble comedy Friends ; earned Emmy (2000, 2001, 2003, 2004), Golden Globe (2002) and SAG (2002, 2003) nominations for Best Actress

1996

Made guest appearance on the short-lived Fox series Partners opposite her then-boyfriend Tate Donovan

1996

Returned to features in Edward Burns She s the One

1997

First leading role in the romantic comedy Picture Perfect

1998

Played a pregnant woman who falls in love with her gay roommate (Paul Rudd) in The Object of My Affection

1999

Cast in Mike Judge s first live-action feature Office Space

2001

Co-starred with Mark Wahlberg in Rock Star

2002

Earned critical acclaim playing an unglamorous cashier in a small town in the low-budget The Good Girl ; directed by Miguel Arteta; earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination

2003

Played the girlfriend of title character (Jim Carrey) in Bruce Almighty

2004

Co-starred with Ben Stiller in the romantic comedy Along Came Polly

2005

Co-starred with Clive Owen in the Hitchcockian thriller Derailed

2005

Co-starred with Kevin Costner in the Rob Reiner directed Rumor Has It

2006

Appeared in the low-budget drama Friends with Money ; premiered at the Cannes Film Festival

2006

Co-starred with Vince Vaughn (who also wrote and produced) in The Break Up

2007

Appeared in the season finale of Courteney Cox s FX series Dirt as a rival magazine editor

2007

Made co-directorial debut with the short Room 10 ; part of the Glamour Reel Moments short film series; screened film at the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films

2008

Co-starred with Owen Wilson in the feature adaptation of the bestselling book Marley and Me

2008

Formed the production company Echo Films with a first-look deal with Universal

2009

Co-starred with Steve Zahn in the comedy Management

2009

Earned an Emmy nomination for guest starring on NBC s 30 Rock as Liz Lemon s old college roommate who stalks Jack Donaghy

2009

Joined an ensemble cast for the feature adaptation of the bestselling book He s Just Not That Into You

2010

Co-starred opposite Jason Bateman in the romantic comedy The Switch

2010

Guest-starred as Jules (Courteney Cox) therapist on the second season premiere of Cougar Town (ABC); reunited with former Friends co-star Cox

2010

Played a woman tracked down by her bounty hunter ex-husband (Gerard Butler) in the action comedy The Bounty Hunter

2011

Re-teamed with Jason Bateman for Horrible Bosses

2012

Co-starred with Paul Rudd as a married couple who try to escape modern society in Wanderlust

2012

Directed a segment for Five, a Lifetime anthology focusing on breast cancer