JEN­NIFER ANIS­TON

WHO ’S THE BOSS , N OW ?

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Front Page - Pho­tographed by Melvin Sokol­sky.

Jen­nifer Anis­ton’s house, which she shares with her fi­ancé, Justin Theroux, is set high up on a sunny hill over­look­ing Los An­ge­les. It’s large, be­fit­ting a star of Anis­ton’s stature, but dis­tinctly, a home. There are over­size cush­ions and throws on the slouchy couch, chic Jac­ques Ad­net chairs (“they’re the most com­fort­able in the room!”), a Bud­dha you could high-five.

Anis­ton comes rac­ing in from the kitchen, a jazzy blur in trim white jeans, a navy T-shirt, and taupe wedges. She loves this house, loves houses in gen­eral – ren­o­vat­ing, do­ing them up, mak­ing a home. “It’s what I love to do,” she shares. “It’s a great out­let for me – a hobby, if you will.” The next plan is to ren­o­vate Theroux’s apart­ment in down­town Man­hat­tan. “I’ve got to get my hands on some­thing be­cause I can’t sit still.” She adds with a ver­bal wink, “I mean, I haven’t done any­thing since June, for Chris­sake.”

While Anis­ton char­ac­terises her­self as hav­ing a “healthy amount of am­bi­tion,” she says, “I don’t live to work; I re­ally do work to live. I love my home, my dogs, my friends, the sim­plic­ity of watch­ing a sun­set.” She walks her three dogs – Dolly, So­phie, and Clyde – around the prop­erty ev­ery morn­ing. “There are mo­ments when you have to stop and pinch your­self, and go, ‘I’m here,’ ’’she adds. “I did some­thing good.” So, yes, every­body, Jen is good. Jen is great, in fact. Read her a re­cent mag­a­zine head­line ti­tled ‘You Can Stop Wor­ry­ing About Jen­nifer Anis­ton Now’, and she re­sponds drily, “Oh thank God. Am I fi­nally al­right?”

The Nar­ra­tive. You know the one. Af­ter a decade the nar­ra­tive has fi­nally got­ten old. “I think peo­ple are start­ing to feel like, are we that stupid? Like, how many times can Dei­dre Hall die on

Days Of Our Lives and they bring her back to life? Even­tu­ally they’re go­ing to be like, ‘Guys, she can’t do that! She can’t die and come back to life and now she’s pos­sessed.’ Se­ri­ously. How many times can I be out there in the world, en­joy­ing my life, and yet the nar­ra­tive is ‘Poor, Sorry, Sad in Love Jen’ … what­ever the stupid head­line is.”

The story that has taken its place is sim­ple: Anis­ton, frankly, doesn’t “give a shit.” She pauses. “It’s the de­tach­ment from it. There was a part of me that used to get very up­set. I was guilty of get­ting too up in arms about stuff that wasn’t real, phantom boxing with some­thing that’s not even there. Now I’d rather just fo­cus on peo­ple and things that are here, hap­pen­ing, and what’s yet to come. My friends, my fam­ily, won­der­ful peo­ple I work with. We know what the real is.”

Anis­ton’s “real” is tak­ing her to new places. She has just re­turned from the Toronto Film Fes­ti­val, where her per­for­mance in the new drama Cake is the un­equiv­o­cal best of her ca­reer, with the words “stand­ing ova­tion” and “Os­car” be­ing bandied about. Of the role, where she plays a caus­tic woman suf­fer­ing from chronic pain, she says: “It was the most chal­leng­ing part I’ve ever done, and also one of the most re­ward­ing and ful­fill­ing. There was strug­gle in­volved.” Anis­ton could very eas­ily surf on rom-coms for the rest of her life. “Ha! That sounds like a ter­ri­bly bor­ing ex­is­tence,” she laughs. “I love do­ing come­dies, though. It takes skill to bring that joy.” Of Cake, she ob­serves, “I don’t know if I would have been able to do it five or 10 years ago. But I was ready to chal­lenge my­self.”

The per­for­mance re­quired that Anis­ton not only forgo make-up en­tirely but also have scars ap­plied to her face, have greasy hair, and wear bulky clothes. “I re­mem­ber the first day of shoot­ing when I had to be out­side, and it was not my most ap­peal­ing look; it was kind of hor­rific. But I had this weird free­dom. Now I’m like, ‘Well, it doesn’t get worse than that.’ You have to not care, be­cause I was start­ing to feel very iso­lated and trapped as I didn’t want some­one to get a stupid pic­ture or what­ever.”

Per­sonal se­cu­rity, of course, can breed a sense of adventure. “There is ab­so­lutely some­thing to feel­ing so full and safe in life,” she says. “It’s been an amaz­ing decade of re­ally look­ing in­ward and ex­plor­ing all of the av­enues that ex­ist in­side. Some­times they’re fab­u­lous and some­times they’re dark and some­times they’re con­fus­ing, and who knows? I think if you get to a cer­tain point, you’re ready to tap into some­thing emo­tion­ally and put it out there. And it is very vul­ner­a­ble, and it’s a lit­tle scary, but what’s the point if you don’t give your­self a lit­tle boo ev­ery once in a while?”

Daniel Barnz, Cake’s direc­tor, has said he wanted to work with Anis­ton “be­cause we had to cast some­body who you can for­give im­me­di­ately.” Af­ter all, she could prob­a­bly go punch some­one in the face and peo­ple would just “get it.” “Ah, there are some peo­ple I would punch,” she says wryly. “I’d do that to a pa­parazzo prob­a­bly.”

“OH, THANK GOD,” SHE SAYS DRILY. “AM I FI­NALLY AL­RIGHT?”

How­ever, Anis­ton is a for­giv­ing per­son. “I ab­so­lutely am. I think it’s ex­tremely im­por­tant to for­give. Oth­er­wise it just builds up like toxic waste. There’s noth­ing worse than hold­ing a grudge. Lis­ten, peo­ple can do un­for­give­able things, but you have to let it go and say, ‘Look, we’re all hu­man be­ings. We make mis­takes.’ To hold any kind of re­sent­ment is like tak­ing rat poi­son and wait­ing for the rat to die.”

“I’m hav­ing some Brie,” Anis­ton says, jump­ing up and wran­gling a dog off my lap. Talk turns to the movie busi­ness. Ask who her cre­ative crush is and her an­swer is swift: “Justin Theroux. Not only is he a great ac­tor but he’s one of the best com­edy writ­ers out there. And he di­rects and paints mu­rals.” She lets out a racy laugh. “I just think it’s so at­trac­tive to be good at so many things and to have no ego. He’s one of the most hum­ble, de­cent hu­man be­ings. He’s not an ass. He’s not like some of our friends who are young and up-and-com­ing and they hit celebrity, and all of a sud­den you’re like, ‘Oh! You’re dif­fer­ent. Now you don’t say hi to peo­ple?’”

Anis­ton and Theroux met “when he was writ­ing on Tropic Thun­der. We were just bud­dies, and then bud­dies through Wan­der­lust [the 2012 com­edy, in which they co-starred]” Now, she con­tin­ues, “it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to get bored with one an­other. We’ve tried so hard! And even that’s in­ter­est­ing be­cause his eyes are so pretty, but we can en­ter­tain our­selves and talk about end­less things, which is pretty great.” She also cred­its Theroux with grace in han­dling the at­ten­tion that comes with dat­ing the world’s pro­pri­etary “Jen”. “He’s just been do­ing it so gra­ciously, and it’s a strange ball­park to walk into. He’s in his body, for sure. He’s a pretty re­alised per­son.” She flips back to his ca­reer. “But he’s been do­ing this for 20 years.”

Of the over­wrought 40s, Anis­ton, 45, ob­serves, “When am I sup­posed to freak out? When am I sup­posed to feel like, ‘Oh, my knee! Oh, ouch!’ I don’t feel any of those things! I feel like our age­ing marker needs to be re­jig­gered. I heard Halle Berry re­fer to her preg­nancy at 47 as a ‘geri­atric preg­nancy’, which is ridicu­lous! It’s in­sult­ing. Ob­vi­ously, as women we’ve evolved.” She ad­mits, “My eye­sight is shit, though. I al­ready was near­sighted, but now I can’t see any­thing.”

Apart from ev­ery­thing, with more clar­ity: “I’ve had more fun post-40 than I can re­mem­ber,” Anis­ton re­veals. “From a work point of view, a psy­chi­cal point of view, a psy­chother­a­peu­tic point of view.” She cred­its her girl­friends, some of more than three decades, for whom she’d “go to the wall. I’m a pretty good judge of char­ac­ter, shall I say.” Be­fore Theroux, Anis­ton took a break from dat­ing. “It re­ally helped me get to a place where I was more com­fort­able with my­self, truly ready for love and a part­ner.” She con­tin­ues, “The past wasn’t ‘less than’. It was ex­tremely im­por­tant to my growth as a woman. But if you take the law of at­trac­tion, if you only love your­self 70 per­cent, that’s what’s go­ing to come back to you. So you fill up that 30 per­cent, then all of a sud­den there’s this pure, good love stand­ing right in front of you. Then you re­alise, ‘Oh, this can be easy! It doesn’t have to be so hard.’”

The rest of the year will see her launch into pro­mo­tion for Hor­ri­ble Bosses 2, in which she reprises her role as a per­verted den­tist. “It’s more hys­ter­i­cal than the first one, and prob­a­bly a bit darker. Cake was a chal­leng­ing, dark, deep role, and this was just full-on, like a big ice-cream sun­dae.” Cake was re­leased be­fore the end of 2014, so there’s a po­ten­tial award sea­son to nav­i­gate, too. “Peo­ple loved our lit­tle film. That was pretty hum­bling.”

Anis­ton will, of course, dress for the oc­ca­sion. To­day she’s sport­ing a pair of amethyst ear­rings: “Th­ese are Ted Muehling that my sweet­heart got me.” Theroux, he of the sto­ried mo­tor­bike and leather, has great taste. “He can buy me jeans! I’ve never had a man be able to buy me jeans.” Theroux’s ur­ban edge plus Anis­ton’s sun­ni­ness equals “ebony and ivory, or tawny and ebony! That’s an­other song al­to­gether.” On the sub­ject of hues, one no­tices her hair is a lit­tle darker than nor­mal, a re­flec­tion per­haps of her lat­est role choices. It seems both pro­fes­sion­ally and per­son­ally, go­ing darker is Anis­ton’s best look yet.

ON THEROUX: “HE’S ONE OF THE MOST HUM­BLE, DE­CENT HU­MAN BE­INGS.”

Dress, Emilio Pucci. Shoes, Manolo Blah­nik.

Fash­ion edi­tor: Joanna Hill­man

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