Jennifer Aniston - Biography & Career
Aniston was born in Sherman Oaks, California to actor John Aniston (originally Ioannis Anastassakis) and his then-wife Nancy Dow, who was also an actress; she has two half-brothers, John Melick (older) and Alex Aniston, who is younger. Aniston's Greek father was born in Crete, while her maternal grandfather, Gordon McLean Dow, was of Scottish and English descent and her maternal grandmother, Louise Grieco, was of Italian ancestry. Aniston's godfather was the late Greek American actor Telly Savalas, who was her father's best friend, and Aniston spent some of her childhood in Greece, but most of it in New York City, where her father appeared in the soap operas Love of Life and Search for Tomorrow. In 1985, the family moved to Los Angeles, where Aniston's father starred on the soap opera Days of our Lives.
Aniston attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, and was a member of the drama club; among her high school friends was future human rights activist Chastity Bono. Aniston's desire to become an actress grew as she worked in Off-Broadway productions such as For Dear Life and Dancing on Checker's Grave. During this time, she supported herself with several part-time jobs, including working as a telemarketer and bike messenger.
Aniston appeared as a "Nutri-System" girl on The Howard Stern Radio Show in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She moved to Hollywood and was cast in her first television roles in 1990, starring as a regular on the short-lived series Molloy and in the TV movie Camp Cucamonga. She also co-starred in Ferris Bueller, a television adaptation of the 1986 teen movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the same year; the series was quickly cancelled. Aniston then appeared in two more failed sitcoms, The Edge and Muddling Through, and guest-starred on Quantum Leap, Herman's Head and Burke's Law. After this string of canceled shows, along with her appearance in the critically derided 1993 horror film, Leprechaun, Aniston seriously considered giving up acting.
Aniston's plans changed, however, after auditioning for Friends, a sitcom that was set to debut on NBC's 1994-1995 fall line-up. The producers of the show originally wanted Aniston to audition for the role of Monica Geller, but she persuaded them that she was better suited for the role of Rachel Green. She was cast in the role and played the character from 1994 until the show ended in 2004. The program was very successful and Aniston, along with her co-stars, gained wide renown among television watchers. Her hairstyle at the time, which became known as a "Rachel", was widely copied (see also Dido flip). Aniston received a salary of one million dollars per episode for the last three seasons of Friends, as well as five Emmy nominations, including a win for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series".
Aniston has starred in several theatrical films, including the cult hit Office Space. She gained the most critical acclaim for her role in the low-budget 2002 film, The Good Girl, directed by Miguel Arteta, playing an unglamorous cashier in a small town. The film opened in just four theatres - under 700 in total - taking $14M in the U.S. box office. Jennifer's biggest box office success was her appearance in 2003's Bruce Almighty, in which she played the girlfriend of title character (Jim Carrey); the film grossed $243M at the United States box office and almost twice that worldwide. Aniston's 2004 film, Along Came Polly (opposite Ben Stiller), also did well at the box office after opening at the #1 spot. In late 2005, Aniston headlined two major studio films, Derailed and Rumor Has It, both of which performed fairly at the box office, grossing over $35 million each. Derailed earned her much praise for taking a different role and doing it well. In the same year, she appeared in a European Heineken television commercial frequently aired before UEFA Champions League matches.
In 2006, Aniston appeared in the low-budget drama, Friends with Money, which was first shown at the Cannes Film Festival, received a limited release, and grossed over $13 million. Aniston's next film, The Break-Up, which was released on June 2, grossed approximately $39.17 million during its opening weekend, despite lukewarm reviews. It has currently grossed over $118M at the U.S. box office and over $200 million worldwide.
Aniston has been linked to the upcoming films The Senator's Wife, Wanted and Diary, but none have yet begun filming. She will also co-direct a hospital emergency room-set short film named Room 10, starring Robin Wright Penn and Kris Kristofferson; Aniston has noted that she was inspired to direct by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who directed a short film in 2006.
Aniston has previously dated musician Adam Duritz and was engaged to actor Tate Donovan. Her high-profile relationship with personality Brad Pitt was frequently publicized in the press. She married Pitt on July 29, 2000, in a lavish Malibu wedding. The two separated on January 7, 2005, and Aniston officially filed for divorce on March 25, 2005. The divorce was finalized on October 2, 2005. Media reports have speculated that the split was due to an affair on Pitt's part (with actress Angelina Jolie) or due to Aniston's refusal to have children. Aniston vehemently denied this in an August 2005 Vanity Fair interview, stating, "I've never in my life said I didn't want to have children... I've always wanted to have children, and I would never give up that experience for a career. I want to have it all". She has also stated that the death of her longtime therapist, whose work helped to make the separation from Pitt easier, more than a year ago was "devastating". Summing up her relationship with Pitt, Aniston has said that their relationship, which she does not regret, was "seven very intense years together" and that "it was a beautiful, complicated relationship". She owns a house in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, in the same town as Brad Pitt.
Since the couple's divorce, Aniston has been romantically linked with well-known actor Vince Vaughn. Aniston blamed her inability to quit smoking due to Vaughn's own smoking habit. In August of 2006, Aniston denied rumors that the two were engaged or that Vaughn had proposed. In October 2006, gossip magazine US Weekly quoted sources from Vaughn that the couple had split. Vaughn was said to have seen Aniston as "needy and controlling". A friend said: "Vince eventually saw how needy she is, and it scared him . Jen lives in a crazy world with all the press. It's just not his world." .
In October 2006, during a guest appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Aniston denied rumours that she and Vaughn broke up. Aniston also shot down rumors of a boob job, chalking it up to having a "couple cheese plates too many" and putting on ten well-placed pounds.
She supported John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, along with then-husband Pitt.