NEXT JEN-ERATION

THE STAR RECK­ONS LIFE ONLY GETS BET­TER WITH AGE

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - THIS WEEK IN... - Judy Kean

Jen­nifer Anis­ton strikes back

Turn­ing 50 doesn’t faze Jen­nifer Anis­ton. The Friends star reaches the mile­stone birth­day next month and is not only ac­cept­ing of the fact she’s en­ter­ing her sixth decade, she’s ac­tu­ally look­ing for­ward to it!

“I don’t think life stops af­ter 50. If any­thing, it gets more ex­cit­ing,” says Jen­nifer, who hits half a cen­tury on Fe­bru­ary 11. “For some rea­son, we don’t hon­our or pay re­spect to age­ing. It’s some­thing we look at as a neg­a­tive and yet ev­ery sin­gle per­son on this planet does it.”

She will mark the oc­ca­sion but she’s not re­veal­ing how just yet – al­though TV star Ellen DeGeneres has of­fered to host a party. “I al­ways love cel­e­brat­ing these sorts of mile­stones,” Jen­nifer says. “I think they’re worth cel­e­brat­ing and not shy­ing away from, even though they of­fer up their own sort of con­tem­pla­ton of, ‘Where have I been?’, ‘What have I done?’ and ‘What do I still have left to do?’”

Jen­nifer doesn’t un­der­stand why peo­ple don’t em­brace get­ting older, and “why there’s some sort of ex­pi­ra­tion date on who you are as a per­son worth watch­ing and a story be­ing told about you”.

The world has been watch­ing since she first graced screens as Friends’ Rachel Green in 1994 and there have been thou­sands of sto­ries told about her since – not all of them to her lik­ing. The ob­ses­sion with her love life – in par­tic­u­lar her mar­riages to ac­tors Brad Pitt and Justin Th­er­oux – and the fact she hasn’t had kids ran­kles.

The fo­cus on her mar­i­tal and moth­er­hood sta­tus, or lack of it, is “di­min­ish­ing ev­ery­thing I have suc­ceeded at, that I have built and cre­ated,” Jen­nifer points out in a can­did in­ter­view. “It’s such a shal­low lens that peo­ple look through. It’s the only place to point a fin­ger at me, as though it’s my dam­age – like it’s some sort of scar­let let­ter on me that I haven’t yet pro­cre­ated or maybe won’t ever pro­cre­ate.

“Ev­ery­one’s path is dif­fer­ent, and it’s time to stop telling women what they should and shouldn’t be do­ing.

“We live in a so­ci­ety that mes­sages women: By this age you should be mar­ried, by this age you should have chil­dren. That’s a fairy tale. That’s the mould we are slowly try­ing to break out of. Some peo­ple are just built to be wives and have ba­bies. I don’t know how nat­u­rally that comes to me.”

But never say never.

“Who knows what the fu­ture holds in terms of a child and a part­ner­ship... how that child comes in – or doesn’t? And now, with science and mir­a­cles, we can do things at dif­fer­ent times than we used to be able to,” she says.

She’d also like to see peo­ple change their def­i­ni­tion of what a suc­cess­ful mar­riage is. Al­though both of hers ended in di­vorce, they were still suc­cess­ful, “in my per­sonal opin­ion,” she says. “And when they came to an end, it was a choice that was made be­cause we chose to be happy, and some­times hap­pi­ness didn’t ex­ist within that ar­range­ment any­more.

“Sure, there were bumps, and not ev­ery mo­ment felt fan­tas­tic, ob­vi­ously, but at the end of it, this is our one life and I wouldn’t stay in a si­t­u­a­tion out of fear –

fear of be­ing alone, of not be­ing able to sur­vive. To stay in a mar­riage based on fear feels like you’re do­ing your one life a dis­ser­vice.

“When the work has been put in and it doesn’t seem that there’s an op­tion of it work­ing, that’s okay. That’s not a fail­ure. We have clichés around this that need to be re­worked and re­tooled. Be­cause it’s very nar­row-minded think­ing.”

Jen­nifer has also spo­ken frankly about her re­la­tion­ship with her mother, ac­tress and model Nancy Dow. The two were es­tranged for many years, which Jen­nifer says was a re­sult of a “chal­leng­ing up­bring­ing”.

Cur­rently win­ning praise for her role as a crit­i­cal mum in the film Dumplin’, Jen­nifer tells how Nancy

– a sin­gle mum af­ter her ac­tor hus­band

John Anis­ton left when Jen­nifer was nine – was very fo­cused on looks.

“She was from this world of ‘Honey, take bet­ter care of your­self’ or ‘Honey, put your face on.’ She said those things be­cause she re­ally loved me. It wasn’t her try­ing to be a b***h or know­ing she would be mak­ing some deep wounds that I would then spend a lot of money to undo. She did it be­cause it was what she grew up with. She was missing what was ac­tu­ally im­por­tant. I think she was just hold­ing on and do­ing the best she could, strug­gling fi­nan­cially and deal­ing with a hus­band who was no longer there.”

Jen­nifer says she’s lucky that, de­spite it all, she has a de­fault set­ting of con­tent­ment. “I’ve al­ways been a pre­dom­i­nantly happy per­son, es­pe­cially once I got out of my mother’s house. That’s also a sur­vival tech­nique from com­ing from a home that wasn’t al­ways that way.

“I have cho­sen to use what I grew up with as an ex­am­ple of what I do not want to be or live. It’s a glass-half-full kind of thing. What brings me hap­pi­ness? I have a great job. I have a great fam­ily. I have great friends. I have no rea­son to feel oth­er­wise.”

The star plays a former beauty queen in mu­si­cal com­edy Dumplin’.

Jen­nifer and herFriends co-stars were cat­a­pulted into the spot­light in 1994.

Jen­nifer views her di­vorces from Justin (far left) and Brad (above), and her re­la­tion­ship with tough mum Nancy (left) in a pos­i­tive light.

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