Jennifer Aniston's 7 steps to bliss
Cleo, December 1999
She's rich, she's pretty and she's going out with Brad Pitt. No
wonder Jennifer Aniston is so happy. So what are the secrets of her success?
Susan Korones Gifford finds out...
I's s sunny saturday afternoon and the shoppers are shoulder to
shoulder in New York's trendy SoHo neighbourhood. The very last person you'd expect to see on a day like this is a full-on celebrity -
after all, don't the big stars hole up in country houses and shop in exclusive boutiques specifically to avoid
the gawking crowds?
But there they are - half of the six-member cast of Friends, actors who are currently earning around
US$100,000 (A$149,000) per episode - cruising the racks of a chic, but modestly priced, French
clothing store. Courteney Cox is fingering a rib-knit sweater while David Schwimmer checks out
modish cotton shirts. Standing at the counter is Jennifer Aniston, a.k.a. rich-girl Rachel, the catalyst
behind this year's final, cliffhanger episode in which Schwimmer's character, Ross, says,
"I take you Rachel" to his bride - who isn't Rachel at all. She is smiling brightly at a woman who's telling her
how much she loves Friends in general and Aniston in particular.
"Thank you," says Aniston, 29, whose fame has flowered with appealing roles in movies such as
She's The One, Picture Perfect and The Object Of My Affection. If Aniston is the only one of the
three Friends stars a fan has approached, it's probably because she's just so, well, approachable.
"The main thing is not to become a bitch," she says. "Your biggest fear is becoming that, you know?"
Yes, Aniston is pretty, but she's not drop-dead gorgeous. Yes, she peeled off l2kgs a few years back
and has a stomach so flat it begs to be bared, but if we lost a few kilos and worked out really hard
for six months, getting her figure certainly wouldn't be out of the question. The point is, Aniston's
attractive and smart, but not so attractive and smart that we can't identify with her. As her stylist,
Phillip Bloch, says, It's not like she has the biggest breasts, but she has beautiful breasts. She's not the
most beautiful, but she's really pretty. She's not the most of anything, but all of it just works."
But it's more than that. Aniston is also funny, a little fragile and very real. New York public image
expert, Laurie Chock, says, "She's very vulnerable. She's like a friend. She makes you want to take
care of her." She also wants to take care of you, a quality that began to develop at the age of nine
with the divorce of her parents, John Aniston, an actor who, for 12 years, played rotten Victor
Kiriakis on Days Of Our Lives, and model Nancy Aniston. Even before that, her life was hardly
stable. 'My memories as a child are about just going from place to place and taking care of adults,"
Born in California, Aniston moved with her family to Athens at the age of five (her grandparents were
Greek) where her father enrolled in medical school. A year later, his American agent rang with the
DOOL role and the family moved to New York. Aniston was enrolled in the Rudolf Steiner School,
which, ironically, discourages children from watching television and movies. Nevertheless, she
managed to sneak in episodes of Donny And Marie and The Bionic Woman whenever her
half-brother, John Melick, was babysitting her.
But the divorce was "like a slap in the face for her", says 39-year-old Melick, now an assistant
director in Los Angeles. Aniston coped by becoming a bit of a troublemaker, clowning around until
both parents were called to the school. "I figured if I was bad enough, both my parents would have to
come to the principal's office. It was me bringing them back together again." In fact, if the acting thing
hadn't worked out, she says, she might have pursued psychology, which she had started studying at
night school. "I like to talk to people and fix things. I still do that, sometimes too much."
But, of course, the acting did work out, although not right away, and not without the objections of her
father, who explained to American People magazine, "It's not the kind of business anybody would
wish on their child." Nonetheless, after graduating from New York's Fiorello H. LaGuardia High
School of the Performing Arts (the Fame school) Aniston took the same route as many aspiring
actors - she became a waitress. "I was having a good time," she told Mademoiselle magazine. "I was
pretty sure I was going to be a professional waitress who just auditioned on the side. Because I
couldn't get hired. Not even for a commercial. For 10 years." In 1990, she moved to LA, picking up small roles in
unsuccessful sitcoms such as Ferris Bueller and The Edge, and trying to flog time-share apartments over the phone ("I wasn't very good - I didn't like
disturbing people"). Then, three hours after a 1994 audition, she learned she'd landed the part of a
spoiled suburban twentysomething in a pilot for a new television show to be called Friends Like Us.
Like the name of the show, Aniston's life would change for good. It takes some cool, clear thinking - and feeling - to ride the tidal wave of fame that has washed over
her since that audition. Herewith, the rules for her success as an actress and a woman:
1a. DON'T FALL IN (OR OUT) OF LOVE TOO EASILY
Aniston claims to have had only three serious relationships in her life (including one with Ferris Bueller
co-star Charlie Schlatter) and they tend to be long-term and low-profile - at least by Hollywood
standards. Breaking up is always tough, but her rift with fellow actor Tate Donovan (he was Hercules
in the animated Disney film, leading to many jokes from Aniston about dating a Greek god) may have
been especially hard. The two had heen together for two-and-a-half years and were clearly close to
marriage. They'd exchanged Irish Claddagh rings on their first anniversary (when worn with the heart
pointed in, they traditionally symbolise a taken heart) and Donovan even mentioned the 'M" word in
People magazine last year. He said, 'I definitely want to get married; she definitely wants to get
married. There are no proposals or anything, not yet, but we definitely think about it." Then, in March
1998, the rings were gone and the relationship was over.
1b. BAG HOLLYWOOD'S HOTTEST BABE
One month later, Aniston was consoling herself in the arms of Brad Pitt and championing the cause of
"girls next door" everywhere by proving that you don't have to be as beautiful as Gwyneth Paltrow to
bag the world's sexiest man. First photographed cuddling at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in
Washington DC in June, the couple have stayed silent while rumours circulate about their shopping
for an engagement ring and even getting married in a secret ceremony. One US tabloid reported that
Aniston was overheard saying to friends, 'Jennifer Aniston-Pitt. It sounds very aristocratic, doesn't
it?" To the press, she will only say: "I just don't want to talk about it... when wonderful things are
happening in your life, your instinct is to scream it to the world . . . but there's definitely a price you
pay for that." Pitt, when quizzed about the relationship hy US Vanity Fair, said, "Oh God. I don't
know. I have no idea what to tell you. No idea."
1c. STAY FRIENDS WITH YOUR EXES
Whatever the reason for the split with Donovan, Aniston is left with one more ex-lover to stay friends
with. It's a kind of specialty of hers: three years ago, after a hudding romance with Counting Crows
singer Adam Duritz was crushed by too much publicity too soon, it wasn't long before she was calling
him "a wonderful friend". She says, "You have to really want to remain friends - have a kind
break-up, be an adult, make the effort and let time pass before the friendship can
2. FIND A LOOK, THEN LOSE IT
Aniston calls herself a "one-outfit kind of girl" but that's not how the professionals who help style her
see it. Phillip Bloch describes her as "always sexy, even in overalls and a tank top", and says she's
also fashion fearless. True, her daytime style is casual - more often than not a T-shirt and cut-off
jeans - but at night, the glamour queen emerges. Bloch has dressed her in everything from classic Ralph Lauren to a Vivienne Tam dress so sheer
most women wouldn't dare leave the dressing-room. On that occasion, Bloch offered matching
underwear, which Aniston declined. "She's like, 'No, that's fine, I'll just put a G-string on,"' he says.
She's also starting to show the confidence that comes with having had a good body for a long time -
by not showing it.
3. RESPECT YOUR BODY, BUT DON'T GIVE UP EVERYTHINGl
When she moved to Hollywood, Aniston was an unemployed actor who hung out with other
unemployed actors in their early 20s, watching too much TV and eating junk food. Blissfully unaware
that her metabolism wasn't a teenager's anymore, she quickly stacked on l2kgs. Told to come to an
audition in a leotard and tights, she joked to her agent, "Well, this should blow it for me." Her agent
then proceeded to deliver some straight talk about her ample curves and let her know that the extra
weight was losing her work. I didn't even know I was overweight until someone told me. I hate it that
your self-worth is metered by how much you weigh," Aniston says. Nonetheless, she was realistic.
She wanted to act, so she gave up snacks, butter and her beloved mayonnaise-on-white-bread
sandwiches (she still raves about them), and started to exercise. Today, she carries 5lkgs on her
165cm frame, without driving herself nuts. "I don't have a big diet plan anymore," she says. "I watch
what I eat, but I don't not eat a cheeseburger, because life is no fun living on salads and fruit."
In addition to regular yoga classes, Aniston works out three times a week with Kathy Kaehier,
personal trainer to Michelle Pfeiffer and other stars. The routines are straightforward but strenuous:
eight to 10 minutes of warm-up, followed by a circuit of 32 exercises that tone every muscle group,
and ending with 110 crunches. "Really, it's just a drag," says Aniston.
4. IN MATTERS OF BEAUTY, LESS IS MORE
This one took a while. First, Aniston had to pass through a too- much-make-up phase encouraged
by her model mum. "She would say, 'Jennifer, before you go up to the market, would you please put
your eyes on.' I couldn't see my face as nice-looking without make-up. But then my boyfriends would
tell me, 'Don't wear all that make-up. You look better without it."
Eventually, she came to believe it, and even her make-up artist agrees. Collier Strong, who's crafted
her look since the dawn of Friends, says, "When she comes in before shoots, she looks amazing.
There's nothing scary about her in the morning." Her favoured look has long been simple and natural.
Even if her make-up looks dramatic, it always leans to the natural side." Strong keeps her in warm,
earthy tones, layering darker eye shadow in the crease of her eyelid and adding a fine black eyeliner.
"I want her eyes to really standout because they're so gorgeous," he explains.
5. DON'T SETTLE FOR ONE HAIRSTYLE WHEN FIVE (OR EVEN MORE) WILL DO
Not since the 70's and Farah Fawcett-Majors has an actress been as well known for her hairstyle as
her talent. For a couple of years, girls the world over were asking their stylists for "the Rachel cut" -
the wispy shag she made famous during her second season with Friends. But Jennifer has always
been into experimentation. The history of her naturally curly hair is long, varied and interesting.
6a. DON'T UNDERESTIMATE YOUR WORTH
After their second season, the cast of Friends took some heat for demanding big, big raises. The
majority of the cast was making around US$35,000 an episode and, since the show was raking in big
bucks for TV station NBC, they asked for $100,000 an episode. (The cast of NBC's Seinfeld was
already commanding $125,000 an episode, with Jerry making between $300,000 and $400,000 a
show.) While they didn't get it right away, they reportedly got a deal worth waiting for: $75,000 an
episode for the third season, $85,000 an episode for last season, and $100,000 an episode for the
season currently in production. Next year, they can look forward to a cool $120,000 per show.
Aniston is also picking up some nice change from her movies: $3 million for 1997's Picture Perfect
and the same amount at least for 1998's The Object Of My Affection. So what does she do with all
6b. TREAT YOURSELF AND SPOIL YOUR FRIENDS
With her new-found wealth, Aniston bought a three-bedroom home in the Hollywood Hills - her first
- which boasts a pool, Jacuzzi and a stack of antiques. "I love antiques," she says. "I love making
something like an old tub into a flower-holder." After she realised the show would have a life long after it's first season, Aniston bought her
half-brother, John, a four wheel-drive "because he's a cool guy". She also rented a house in Aspen,
Colorado, and treated 12 friends to a winter holiday. "For years, we've been trying to get together,
and the winter comes and goes, and we never do it," she said at the time.
"And this year, with Friends and everything, I was like, 'You know what? I'm going to do this for us.' It's nice having the money to
do it. Ever since I was a little girl, I've wanted to spend money. I was like, 'I'm going to take my
friends to dinner!'"
7. DREAM BIG AND WORK HARD
Friends may continue well into the next millennium, but Aniston also has three movies at different
points in the pipeline, including Office Space, the first live-action film effort from King Of The Hill and
Beavis And Butt-head creator Mike Judge, which will be released at the end of the year. After that,
she would love to work with "Diane Keaton, Judy Davis, Tom Hanks and Scott Hicks, the director
of Shine". She's also still determined to build a strong relationship - children may be a big part of her motivation.
"I love everything about kids - their backs, necks, smell, all their fits. I've always said I'd like about
three. I want to be a young mother, too." With Brad? Perhaps - the rumour is they're looking to buy a house together. We'll have to wait and