Who hasn’t fallen in love with Jennifer Aniston after watching her steal the show as Rachel Green on Friends? The clearly talented actress played one of the most beloved characters in the history of television for 10 years. She not only grew up and gave a voice to an entire generation, but she also shaped it along the way as well.
Sure, we may feel like we know her after seeing her on the screen for so many years, but what do we really know about Jennifer Aniston, the 52-year-old woman? Like, what did she think about being on Friends? What was her very public relationship with Brad Pitt like? And what’s her more current love life really like? This is the life and love story of our dear old friend, Jennifer Aniston.
Born in L.A. on February 11, 1969, Jennifer Joanna Aniston didn’t have the most ideal childhood. Both of her parents were TV stars; her father, John Aniston, gained fame and popularity thanks to his role on Days of Our Lives. Her mother, Nancy Dow, appeared on shows like The Beverly Hillbillies and The Wild Wild West. Still, despite Jennifer’s parents’ success on TV, they actually discouraged their daughter from watching too much of it at home.
And then when she was enrolled in a Waldorf school, it didn’t really help that she hardly watched TV either. Still, she got her TV fix whenever her older half-brother (and future filmmaker), John Melick, babysat her. Whenever he came over, he sneaked in VHS tapes of the Bionic Woman. “She’d make that ba-na-na-na-na sound effect around the house, running around directing herself in scenes from the show,” Melick revealed to PEOPLE Magazine in a 1997 interview. “I guess she was destined for television.”
Jennifer’s time at the Waldorf school was like a door to all kinds of activities and interests she never explored before. By the time she was 11, she discovered the wonderful world of acting. But there were also a number of difficulties at the school, too.
“I was one of those kids who got sort of bullied, and I don’t know why,” she admitted in a 2018 InStyle interview. “I was one of the kids who the others would decide to make fun of. It was an odd period of time during fifth, sixth, seventh grades. I was a little on the chubby side, so I was just that kid.”
The bullying at the Waldorf school didn’t last long, though. When she was 12 years old, she enrolled at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. This school, as its long name indicates, was aimed towards helping students realize their artistic inclinations. Jennifer was definitely not an exception.
She studied theater there and participated in a number of large scale school plays. And you know who else was there? Cher’s son, Chaz Bono. But that’s beside the point. Jennifer graduated in 1987. Afterwards, she decided she wanted to make a living as an actress. But she still had a long way to go.
Jennifer’s parents were well connected in the entertainment industry, but she was a go-getter from the beginning and determined to make it on her own accord. While she was able to land roles in a few off-Broadway productions, Jennifer still had to work the random odd job to pay the bills.
For a while in the late ’80s, those who were living in NYC might have had a parcel delivered to them by the one and only Jennifer Aniston. Why? Because she was a bike messenger! She also served pie as a waitress for a while. And there was a time when she worked as a telemarketer.
Hustling in New York City wasn’t easy, but she finally got the call. She was cast in a TV series! In 1990, she landed the role opposite the young Mayim Bialik (of Blossom and Big Bang Theory fame) in Molloy, a short-lived TV show. She also was cast in a TV adaptation of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Sadly, though, both shows were canceled before they ever made it off the ground.
Then, in 1993, Jennifer was cast in a Hollywood feature film: the slasher horror comedy Leprechaun. The movie wasn’t just a major flop; it was also a horrible working experience for the budding actress. It was so bad that she seriously considered quitting acting for good after shooting wrapped.
Luckily for her, a chance encounter a few months later changed the course of her life forever. One night, she was filling her gas tank when a man named Warren Littlefield, then-head of NBC Entertainment, pulled up to the gas pump next to her. Littlefield was the brains behind hit shows like Frasier, Seinfeld and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
“It’s 10:30 p.m. at night on Sunset Boulevard,” Littlefield recalls of that moment. “I’m at the Chevron station gassing up and Jennifer is over at the other island and she comes over and she says, ‘Is it ever going to happen?’ and I say, ‘We believe in you, I love you, I so believe in your talent, I’m sure it will.’ A few months later, we handed her the ‘Friends’ script.”
In early 1994, Jennifer auditioned for the role of Monica Geller – not Rachel Green – for this new sitcom on NBC called Friends. No, she didn’t get the part. Instead, she was offered the role of Rachel Green. Less than three hours after her audition, she landed a role she would play for the next 10 years.
You know, the one that set her on her way to becoming one of the highest-paid actresses in history. Friends began airing in 1994, completing its 10 consecutive seasons in 2004. Since then, it has never gone off the air and is still playing in reruns.
To this day, Friends is considered one of the most successful sitcoms in the history of television. The chemistry between the actors was quite real. They bonded behind the scenes and are still close friends to this day.
Thanks to the cast members’ strong bond, by the time the later seasons rolled around, the group insisted that none of the actors be dubbed the “star” of the show. They wanted to place more focus on the storylines or official coverage. As a result, the cast only posed for promotional materials as a group.
Because of that switch, the show came to be called “TV’s first true ensemble series.” After the second season ended, the Friends group decided to enter collective negotiations for their salaries – rather than take the network’s original offer of individual deals.
The cast settled on getting the salary of the least paid cast member. That meant that Jennifer’s salary would be reduced, but she was willing to take the hit for her on-screen and off-screen friends. She essentially took one for the team and has never regretted it.
If you were of age back in 1995, then chances are you saw at least a few of your friends rush to the salons to get their hairdresser to give them “The Rachel.” Thanks to the success of the show, Jennifer’s haircut became a national trend.
But how did her haircut come to be in the first place? Well, Chris McMillan, the actress’s longtime hairstylist, and close friend admitted that he was “high” when he cut her hair in that iconic way for the first time ever. “I’m 14 years sober, so I feel safe enough to say that,” he explained.
Jennifer quickly became a cultural icon, and her career reached heights that any aspiring actor dares to dream of. But that doesn’t mean that things were all rainbows and gum drops in her family life. Personal troubles often go hand in hand with fame and fortune.
Following her success with Friends, her mother Nancy wrote a very revealing book about their relationship. And she never even ran it by her daughter first. It put a major strain on the mother-daughter relationship – to the point that when Jennifer married Brad Pitt, Nancy wasn’t even invited!
The good news is that over the years, the mother and daughter were able to reconcile. But now we come to the chapter in Jennifer’s life that many of her fans were obsessed – and envious – about. When it comes to Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston and yes, Angelina Jolie, there’s hardly anyone who hasn’t read a tabloid or two about the love triangle.
But how did it all start? How did Jennifer and Brad come to be known as Braddifer and what happened between them? Well, let’s begin by revisiting how the Hollywood “It” couple first met…
Jennifer and Brad went on their first date in 1998, and you know who set them up? Believe it or not, their agents! Even though the two A-listers were both on the rise in terms of their careers, this match was by no means a publicity stunt.
In fact, the couple tried to as much as they could to keep it a secret, which of course wasn’t easy. Brad was (and is) one of the biggest movie stars of all time, and Jen was a fan favorite of a favorited TV show.
Brad and Jen began dating in the second half of 1998, but it wasn’t until September 1999 that the couple made their public debut. It happened on the red carpet, of course, as they made their way into the Emmy Awards ceremony.
The glamourous couple walked down the carpet as reporters and fans were both giddy and stunned by the new power couple. Two months after they announced themselves as a couple, Brad and Jen had another announcement to make. No, they weren’t pregnant. As they say, first comes love, then comes marriage…
In November 1999, as the entire world was busy dreading the so-called Y2K bug (remember that?), Brad and Jennifer were making their plans to get hitched. They were going to spread the news to the world. And they did it in the most memorable way.
The stars got up on stage in the middle of a Sting concert and waved their engagement-ringed-fingers for all the fans to see. Can you imagine how the fans reacted? They went wild for the declaration, but it was really not much compared to their actual wedding…
In July 2000, Jennifer and Brad got married in a very lavish wedding, for the paparazzi to go nuts over. The event was simply insane, with photographers pushing up against the Malibu venue’s walls like zombies. There were also planes flying over the complex taking photos with telescopic lenses.
Remember, drones weren’t around back then. People were willing to hire pilots and their planes to fly over the wedding, which gives you a sense of how over the top the event really was. To top it off, the ceremony ended with fireworks over the ocean. Aww.
In 2001, Jen was interviewed by Rolling Stone Magazine. She told them that her friends were concerned that Brad would be a “conceited f***” at first. But once they met him, their worries were alleviated. Jen gushed about their relationship.
“You know if there’s ever an argument, it’s not like you can go, ‘Screw you, I’m outta here!’ You’re there for the long haul. It’s a beautiful thing to actually realize that for the first time, to have that knowing. It takes the heat and the weight out of things.”
In November 2001, one of Friends’ most memorable and loved episodes aired. Brad joined the cast as a guest star on their Thanksgiving episode called “The One with the Rumor.” You definitely remember it. Brad plays the handsome Will Colbert, Monica’s childhood friend who was bullied by Rachel back in school.
As a result, he organized a group called “I Hate Rachel Green Club,” and the two went on to have some of the funniest on-screen bickerings during that episode. The episode is actually full of inside jokes about Brad and Jennifer’s marriage – and fans loved it!
When W magazine asked Jennifer in 2003 if Brad was the love of her life, she gave an unconventional answer. “Is he the love of my life?” she began. “I think you’re always sort of wondering, ‘Are you the love of my life?’ I mean, I don’t know, I’ve never been someone who says, ‘He’s the love of my life.’”
She went on to say that he’s “certainly a big love in my life…And I know that we have something special, especially in all this chaos.” She added: “In this nutty, brilliant, wonderful, hard business that we have, it’s nice to have somebody who’s anchored and knows you, really knows all of you.”
In 2004, The Guardian interviewed Jen, and she spoke about her desire to start a family. “It’s time. You know, I think you can work with a baby, I think you can work pregnant, I think you can do all of it. So I’m just truly looking forward to slowing down.”
Knowing what we know now, it does feel a little bit sad. She was clearly optimistic about her future with Brad and she wanted to start a family with him. But less than a year after she gave that interview, things started to change in a way no one predicted.
Brad started filming a romantic action comedy in May 2004 with Angelina Jolie: Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Jolie gave some remarks to Vogue Magazine: “Because of the film, we ended up being brought together to do all these crazy things, and I think we found this strange friendship and partnership that kind of just suddenly happened.”
Jolie said that a few months in she realized, ‘God, I can’t wait to get to work.’ She said they “just became kind of a pair.” And by the end of the shoot, they started to realize that it might lead to something more “than we’d earlier allowed ourselves to believe.”
In January 2005, Jen and Brad announced that they were separating in a joint statement, as they wanted to beat the gossip columns’ speculations to the punch. They said: “We would like to announce that after seven years together, we have decided to formally separate.”
They explained that their separation “is not the result of any of the speculation reported by the tabloid media.” They stated that their decision was the “result of much thoughtful consideration” and that they “happily remain committed and caring friends with great love and admiration for one another.”
Around this time, there were some other things going on in Jen’s life that didn’t involve “Team Jen” on a t-shirt. For instance, in 2002, after the 8th season of Friends, Jennifer won the Emmy for Best Lead Actress as well as an Emmy that Friends won for Outstanding Comedy.
In 2004, as Mr. and Mrs. Smith was being filmed, Friends was wrapping up its final season. An era was coming to an end, and people were teary-eyed and emotional. But, despite what Jen called “inevitable pain,” she knew it was time to move on to bigger and better things.
In May 2004, Jennifer was named by People Magazine as the “All-Time Most Beautiful Person.” Not too shabby, right? Jen was making regular appearances on People’s lists since 1998, but for this occasion, she gave an interview to the magazine.
She was asked about the “Branjelina” rumors, and Jennifer was able to put on a brave face. “We try to laugh, of course,” she said. “You protect each other. But it’s Hollywood, baby.” After she and Brad split up, she started dating someone else – someone a little funnier than Brad.
Jennifer began dating funny guy Vince Vaughn. The two worked together on the comedy Break-Up that they shot together in Chicago. At first, they denied any sort of romantic involvement, but they were spotted kissing at an event.
After so many years in a relationship that ended in humiliation, the actress was ready to get back on the dating horse. It came time for Oprah to interview Jen, and she had this to say: “I love the unknown. I love the discovery of what will be happening and just kind of sitting back and not knowing.”
In late 2005, Vanity Fair published an interview with Jennifer that created a buzz. Everyone was just dying to hear what Jen thought about her and Brad’s breakup as well as his new relationship with Angelina.
Jen addressed the rumors and said that their breakup was centered on family planning issues (her wanting to have a baby), and insisted that Branjelina had nothing to do with it. Then, in January 2006, Brad adopted Jolie’s children, and Jolie was pregnant with their first biological child together. Everyone saw it as a slap in Jennifer’s face, but she announced to Vogue: “Don’t feel sorry for me!”
As the years rolled on, it seemed like Jen was more willing to discuss her previous relationship with Brad and how she truly was hurt by it all. In 2009, she gave a revealing interview with GQ magazine, and addressed the Branjelina relationship.
“That stuff about how she couldn’t wait to get to work every day? That was really uncool,” said Jennifer. Jen wasn’t going to just sit and whine about it, though. She kept working and that year her movie Marley & Me premiered on the same day that Brad’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button did. And she even beat him in the box office. Take that, Brad!
In 2011, Jen met actor Justin Theroux, who had recently become single himself. They met on the set of the film Wanderlust and hit it off right away. Before long, paparazzi and gossip columnists were reporting that they were in a relationship.
But were they really, though? “It’s clear Aniston is very happy with Justin,” one of Jen’s friends said in a statement. “He’s a great guy.” We know now that the two did indeed become a couple, but at that point, it seems like Jen was being a little more cautious about revealing the news to the press.
In 2012, at the age of 43, Jennifer received her very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was accompanied by her father John, and her boyfriend at the time, Justin Theroux. Adam Sandler, who was there for the event, declared to a cheering crowd in his speech introducing her:
“I love this girl. My wife loves this girl. The entire world loves this girl.” Jennifer then said to the crowd: “I am utterly humbled and grateful to all of the fans who have come out today and supported me throughout my career.”
On Justin Theroux’s birthday, on August 10, 2012, he got down on one knee and proposed to Jennifer. She responded with an overjoyed “Yes!” She said in an interview, “I’m very happy. I’m extremely lucky, and I’m extremely happy.”
Despite the engagement, the couple took their time getting married. They finally wed three years later, in 2015. It makes sense that Jen wanted to take her time (after what had happened to her with Brad) and make sure they really were in a committed, exclusive, loving, relationship – and they were!
In 2017, when Jen and Justin were happily married for two years already, Jen got a phone call. It was Brad, who had recently divorced from Angelina, who called her up to wish her a happy birthday. The two chatted for a bit, and he talked about the difficulties he was experiencing with the divorce.
According to some sources, the two exes continued texting each other after that phone call, and they grew to become friends. In February 2018, it came time for Jen and Justin to announce their own separation to the media.
The two actors issued a statement together which was both respectful and loving. It was also very clear that their union was truly over. At that point, both Brad and Jen were newly single. Is it possible that the two rekindled the spark and we just didn’t hear about it?
When she and Brad were an item, he apparently had a habit of leaving her little post-it notes around the house, where he wrote little things like “you looked nice today” or “miss you already.” As it turns out, she kept those little mementos…
Jen keeping those little love notes from Brad was something that Justin, allegedly, was very uncomfortable with when he discovered them. But she insisted they meant nothing to her anymore. (I’m not buying it, either). So, is a Braddifer reunion a possibility?
Jen’s friends report that she’s “very happy being single” as she’s “focused on her own happiness.” Following her breakup with Justin, she stayed out of the public eye for a while. But once she started filming her Netflix movie Murder Mystery she distracted herself the best way possible.
The entire cast of Friends forged strong bonds since the beginning of the show. Since 1994, Jennifer’s best friend has been her on-screen pal, Monica, played, of course, by Courteney Cox. After the series ended, and the cast drifted apart a tad, the two actresses stayed close.
Courteney has been there for her through thick and thin. When Jen was feeling the Breakup Blues, Courteney was the only person who could get to her and help her get out and have a good time. “There’s absolutely no judgment in Court[eney],” Jennifer clarified.
With Courteney, as Jen told More Magazine in 2014, “You’ll never feel scolded. She’s extremely fair, ridiculously loyal, and fiercely loving.” Sounds like a true friendship to me! But their friendship is by no means one-sided.
Jen supports Courteney when she needs it, too. When Courtney separated from David Arquette, her bestie Jen was by her side every step of the way. “Things are being shaken up and I don’t know what’s going to happen, but, yeah, Jennifer has been amazing for sure,” she told Access Hollywood in an interview.
Jennifer’s life has been such a rollercoaster, but one thing’s for sure: her talent, passion, and strength will be there for her whatever life throws at her. And, most importantly, her friends are there for her to lean on.
What about kids? She is 52, but these days, women are having children later in life. During an interview with Molly McNearney, Jimmy Kimmel’s wife, for InStyle magazine in 2018, Jen talked about all the rumors that have swirled around for years that she doesn’t want to have children.
She said in that interview: “Those are reckless assumptions. No one knows what’s going on behind closed doors. No one considers how sensitive that might be for my partner and me. They don’t know what I’ve been through medically or emotionally.” (She has a point!)
She continued by saying, “There is a pressure on women to be mothers, and if they’re not, then they’re deemed damaged goods. Maybe my purpose on this planet isn’t to procreate. Maybe I have other things I’m supposed to do.” (She’s right!) Good for you, Jen!
Justin Theroux gave his point of view on their breakup to The New York Times. He said, “It was heartbreaking, only in the sense that the friendship would not be the same, as far as just the day to day. But the friendship is shifting and changing, you know, so that part is something that we’re both very proud of.”
In both cases, with Justin and Brad, Jennifer has demonstrated that it is possible to be friends – even good friends – with your ex. And if anyone should defy the “norms,” let it be the graceful Jen Aniston!
In February 2018, Jen was featured on the cover of AD magazine. In the article, she shared the story of the house she shared with Justin. She revealed that they bought the house for $21 million, but she wasn’t a fan of its design.
With the help of her friend and designer Stephen Shadley, she found a balance between their ideas to create their dream home. But settling on designs was difficult, and she said that she happened to learn a lot about the art of compromise during the process.
“Justin definitely wanted to be involved, so there was a bit of a learning curve for me on how to include another voice in the design process,” she said. “I figured out that immediately saying ‘No!’ to any suggestion is not the most collaborative move.”
It turns out Jen loves design so much that she said if she weren’t an actress, she would be an interior designer. “Sexy is important, but comfort is essential,” is how she described her design philosophy. “If I wasn’t an actress, I’d want to be a designer. I love the process. There’s something about picking out fabrics and finishes that feeds my soul.”
In addition to her TV career, Jen has appeared in close to 50 film titles and has been deemed one of the highest-paid actors of all time. In fact, in 2016 she was ranked by Forbes as one of the four highest-earning actresses in the world.
During her time on Friends, she was making $1.25 million per episode! That made her one of the highest-paid American female entertainers of the century. Her net worth has been estimated at over $300 million. A major source of her net worth is her product endorsements, like Smartwater.
Jennifer has been called one of the most beautiful actresses of all time, so it’s not surprising that she’s had her fair share of admirers. In fact, one actor on the set of Friends admitted to having such a crush on her that he almost forgot his lines.
Cole Sprouse, the Disney actor cast as Ross Geller’s son on Friends, when he was only eight year old, was already a secret admirer of hers. On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the fully grown actor recalled working with her on the show…
“That’s when I fell in love with her, yeah,” Sprouse confessed. “I remember feeling so, so intimidated by my crush on her that I completely blanked and forgot every single one of my lines and she just stared at me and was waiting.”
Unfortunately for Cole, Jen’s simply a little too old for him – or rather, he’s a little too young for her.
These days, Jen insists that she’s focused on work, and not really interested in dating… for now at least. But let’s take a look at the men she’s dated in the past.
There have been rumors about Jen and Johnny Depp becoming an item in the last year or two. One source close to Jen told The Globe that “She’s always found him cute. Jen feels Johnny’s had a terrible run of bad luck, and like her, he chose his long-term partners extremely badly.”
The same source said “she’d like to explore taking it to the next level.” But in the end, this “source” was untraceable, and Jen was quick to deny the rumors. It just goes to show that you can’t trust every tabloid you read!
There was also another rumor circulating for a while about Jennifer and Adam Sandler having an affair. The two have known each other for a long time and co-starred in Just Go With It (2011). But unlike some rumors, this one seemed real considering that photos of the two holding hands in Italy surfaced on the Internet.
It was pretty shocking because Sandler has been happily married since 2003. But, here’s the thing: Those photos were actually footage of the two actors’ filming their movie Murder Mystery. The movie, by the way, is about a couple who become suspects in the murder of a billionaire.
Whenever Jen visits her friend George, a slew of rumors start to surface about her love life, but the two are just good friends. Not too long ago, Aniston was seen taking a break from filming and stayed the night at George and Amal Clooney’s Lake Como home. Jen and Adam Sandler and his wife all enjoyed dinner and drinks.
Must be nice to dine and drink with a group of friends like that, huh?
Fun fact: Jen and George first met when he guest starred on Friends as that gorgeous doctor. Remember that one?
A Friends reunion has been spoken about, highly demanded, and on the agenda since the show ended back in 2004. Ever since Netflix bought the rights to stream it, the show has seen a resurgence in viewers and popularity.
That means that a reunion seems closer than ever. Ellen DeGeneres asked Jen about it, and she replied: “Anything is a possibility, Ellen. Anything,” she said teasingly. “George Clooney got married. That’s like, anything can happen.”
Speaking of TV shows, Jen has famously rejected being on Saturday Night Live. And there’s a reason for it…
Before Jennifer was cast as Rachel Green on Friends, she was presented with a major opportunity that most stars would have jumped at. Yet she turned it down. She was offered a role on SNL in the early ‘90s, but she revealed later on that she turned it down for a very specific and serious reason.
During an interview with Howard Stern in 2019, Jen discussed the offer she received from Lorne Michaels, the co-creator and producer of SNL, to become part of the cast. When Michaels asked her to be on the show, because of how funny he thought she was, she was taken aback.
Stern basically told her what she thought, saying: “Well, you were thrown because you said, ‘Wait a second, I’m a f***ing serious actress. I’m not a comedian’… It was insulting to you.” Jen agreed: “Yeah, a little bit.”
Even though sketch comedy wasn’t her niche at the time, the main reason she didn’t join the cast of SNL was because of the place itself. “I didn’t think I’d like that environment,” she admitted, adding that she also expressed her concerns to Michaels. “I think that women need to be treated better here… ‘cause it was such a boys club,” she told Michaels.
Jen noted that being so young at the time influenced her boldness. She clarified, though, that she didn’t lecture Michaels. “I was just saying what I would hope, if I was to do this… what I would hope it would be.”