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"Life's changed and forced me to get my act together personally. I've had to grow up a bit"  -Actress, Frances O'Connor
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In the independent film, The Good Girl, Jennifer Aniston makes a dramatic transformation from her popular Friends character of Rachel to playing a bored wife in a small town whose affair with a younger man throws her life into chaos. And she welcomed an unglamorous role for a change, she tells Jenny Cooney Carrillo.

How did you prepare to play this small town girl?
I had a wonderful dialect coach and being a clown my entire life and mimicking people really helped! As for being small town, the script was written and the words were there. I just had to fill in with her soul and her spirit and figure out how do you find compassion for this woman whoís making so many bad choices? And I worked with my acting coach, also a dear friend, to do that script justice because they trusted me with this woman and I didnít want to disappoint anyone.

How did you feel about playing such an unglamorous character?
I welcomed that pretty much. It was just right at a time when I was feeling like I wanted to do something different. I want to see for myself if I can. Itís very easy to get comfortable and stay complacent and in a way you can become frustrated as well. Itís not just about this small town and the life sheís living but in all of our lives if we become frustrated or stuck or we canít move to another place in our careers or our love lives or whatever, you can go into a darker place and that is what this role was all about. I was really looking forward to exploring that and seeing if I could do it because I was starting to become a bit too comfortable with becoming a product on a shelf. So I was grateful for the opportunity and the haggard look came easy because I was shooting the show and the film at the same time. (laughs) I donít usually have an easy time watching anything Iíve done so I think itís a good sign that I was able to make it through watching this movie without cringing and I think Iím actually proud of it. And it didnít even bother me seeing my Ďrelaxed-seatí jeans!

What is a good girl?
Itís a play on words that alludes to a people pleaser, probably.

Does that describe you?
Yes indeed. Sometimes you make bad choices and you arenít completely honest and you try to protect everybody involved but in the meantime you end up just digging yourself in deeper and deeper. Sometimes you want to be a bad girl but ultimately I could probably never pull that off in real life.

Itís hard to watch you play somebody so depressed when weíre used to you making us laugh.
One of the other things I loved about this movie is Iíve made my living so far on my survival technique as a kid, which was being funny and finding humour in everything, and that was always important to me; I was always uncomfortable with being down and dark. So I loved that with this movie I got to explore that part of myself, because there are days and months where you feel sad in spite of all life has given you, which is a lot in my case, and there were periods of my childhood where it was hard to sit with depression and I enjoyed that exploration through this character.†

Growing up, what were your own expectations for marriage?
I was never somebody who had expectations or dreams of marriage. Being a child of divorce, itís not the first thing youíre running to go out and do but then I redefined it for myself and it has really exceeded my expectations. My marriage is a very supportive one based on love and friendship and that is the heart of it.†

Have you ever been obsessed with someone or been obsessed about?
I was a fan as a kid but I canít say I was obsessed with something to that level of obsession where it takes over your entire life and you start to lose your grasp with reality as Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal) does in this story. It was very interesting to see her choose that and thinking that it would spark passion again in her life when in fact it just showed a mirror to how insane he actually was and where she was headedÖ

How do you feel about making changes in life, like your character is forced to do?
Iíve gotten better at that in the last four or five years. I think itís very important to be aware, keep your eyes open and know whatís going on. Although at the same time Iím also a creature of habit and I enjoy routine. Iím amazed that the biggest commitment Iíve ever had is Friends, because it is the longest thing Iíve ever stuck to. But change, when itís necessary, is always a good thing.

How did you feel about your love scene in the film?
First of all, it was first time ever Ė I was a movie virgin! And it was really painless and only lasted about ten minutes. And it was awkward, of course, because itís never a comfortable thing even just having a make-out scene with someone. With all the protection in the world, your underwear and everything, it feels uncomfortable. But I think if itís not gratuitous and it serves the story, love scenes can be beautiful.†

How do you feel playing the older woman with the younger man for a change?

Itís great because that is the clichť, that women donít do that but men do and I think itís also a formula that Hollywood has been very comfortable with. I love that this is being explored in our movie and other films like Tadpole. I think women get better when they get older truthfully, and I think youth is wasted on the young. Sweet, young Jake (who is 23) was saying that menís sexual peaks happen at that time when theyíre young and womenís sexual peaks happen later in life so absolutely itís great playing the older woman!

Are you open to doing more independent movies?
Oh yeah! I think that is where some of the best movies are made. There is such freedom and they donít have to appeal to a mass audience so there is room for everything. There is greatness about grossly commercial movies but there is also less risks that can be taken in those and theyíre more like candy. Then there are these wonderful independents and I felt honoured to even be asked to be a part of this movie.

Was it true that you cried real tears when Rachelís baby arrived on the show?
That moment was real. I cried because there was a 20-day-old infant with jelly smeared all over its face; that was what was truly the most disturbing thing to me and yet it had to be done and this little angel was so good and quiet and didnít cry until of course cold jelly was smeared all over his face. And then of course Iím an emotional person Ė my husband calls me a Ďleakerí Ė but basically there is the reality of the scene of Ross and Rachel and here is the baby and Iím a sucker for all that so I just had to cry.

Any baby plans of your own?
We definitely want to and at some point in the next year or two weíll be going down that road I hope. Iíve sure read enough books on the set of Friends researching Rachelís pregnancy to have picked up plenty of tips!

Being such a famous couple, how do you handle the media attention?

I read something the other day that I crush aspirin into my shampoo to solve my itchy scalp: I donít know where they come up with this stuff! Itís a weird breed of people who spend their lives doing that but what are you going to do? You have to take the good with the bad.

You seem remarkably down-to-earth. How do you stay that way?
I live for my chosen family, so to speak, and have known my friends a long time. But if you are at all unstable, you could easily buy into all this stuff and that could breed such awful behaviour of entitlement and Iíve met people I wish Iíd never met who are like that. Power can be very seductive and this business can be very seductive but itís a show and you just canít buy it.†

Published April 24, 2003

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Jennifer Aniston

... in The Good Girl

... with co-star Jake Gyllenhaal

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