Jennifer Aniston Has Nothing to Hide

JENNIFER ANISTON HAS SPENT MOST OF HER ADULT LIFE IN THE SPOTLIGHT, WITH ALL ITS GLARE. AT 53, SHE OPENS UP ABOUT HER PATH TO LEAVING REGRETS AND SOME DEEPLY PERSONAL PAIN BEHIND.

If we’re being literal, the hills above western Los Angeles are actually the only place where Jennifer Aniston is the girl next door. That’s what people called her for a long time. The girl next door, which is a ’90s euphemism that means she’s unintimidating, approachable. But here, along avenues of impermeable iron gates, among houses hidden behind hedges grown to make sure you know your place, the vibe is pretty intimidating. To live here, one ᴀssumes, you have to have achieved a certain kind of Olympian status, like having been among the most beloved figures in American pop culture for 30 years.

This is what I’m thinking when the gates to her house swing open and I enter onto a pea stone car park. Pruned trees, gurgling fountains, 500-foot-tall front doors. Then suddenly, there’s a lot of barking and Aniston’s familiar voice, somewhere inside, reprimanding her dogs. When she opens the door — ripped jeans, tank top, barefoot — Aniston looks like she could be the owner’s out-of-town friend crashing here for a few days.

  • She welcomes me into the house, which looks like a comfortable art gallery and smells like a box of new shoes transported in a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk full of gardenias. “Excuse my frazzledness,” she says, seeming pretty unfrazzled, as we walk into her kitchen. “I just had a whole thing happen at work.” She’s in the middle of filming the third season of The Morning Show. “I just [found out I] have a few pages to learn of a huge interview scene.”

“Our interview can be a dry run,” I propose.

“Yes, this will be my dry — exactly. That’s exactly right.” Aniston at her most Aniston. It’s that thing she does. She murmur repeats — part bumbling professor, part conspiratorial best friend.

Immediately, she’s welcoming: “Can I make you a shake? I’m having a shake.” I am not about to refuse a homemade shake from Jennifer Aniston. Sure. Great.

“I want to introduce you to my dogs.” She opens the door to where they’ve been relegated. “Clyde is amazing, but Chesterfield gets barky. You have to ignore him. Even if he licks your hand and you’re like, ‘Oh, there’s my in,’ he will jump and it seems scary.” I do as I’m told: aloof and indifferent. I could be a French waiter.

“Okay, I’m making us a shake. Here we go.” I lean against her kitchen island and watch as Aniston begins to ᴀssemble the ingredients. Back and forth to the refrigerator, in and out of cabinets, collecting little containers of powders and a thing of nuts and then ground-up some- things and there’s a banana and then shavings of something elses. Am I okay with chocolate-flavored things? “Yep, but I’m a vegetarian so just no bacon, please.”

“Ha! I’m not going to put the bacon in! I’ll leave out the bacon. I’ll leave out the bacon.” Murmur, repeat, perfect timing.“Let me blend this. Hold on.” She blends. Chesterfield — a big white husky? shepherd? lab mix? — starts barking. She pours two tall glᴀsses of smoothie. “Whoa, I hope you like sweet things,” she says. “Cheers.”

We move to the living room — and step into two sides of Jennifer Aniston. There’s a wall of artwork and floor-to-ceiling windows. But there are also dog beds, a giant sofa with a slipcover, and a really casual vibe. She’s not a coaster person. Aniston sits on the floor and Chesterfield jumps on the couch next to me.

Earlier I was texting a journalist friend of mine. I told him I was interviewing Aniston and I asked him to give me smart things to say. “One thought is this,” he texted. “No one’s ever going to be famous the way she is. That kind of mᴀss-fame phenomenon burning so bright for so long, it’s just not achievable today. She’s like a silent-film star among a generation of TikTok dipsнιтs.”

I read her the text. “Whoa. Oh, that just gave me chills,” she says. “I’m a little choked up. I feel like it’s dying. There are no more movie stars. There’s no more glamour. Even the Oscar parties used to be so fun….”

There’s something that’s distracting me. Yes, I do have the feeling that whenever Jennifer Aniston fades into posterity (something that doesn’t seem imminent; she has two new movies coming out, and the third season of The Morning Show), the station of movie star will be diminished. But it’s not that. It’s her hair. Her hair is the second most famous thing in this house. You could say her hair was the second most famous thing on Friends. I can see the nuances, the parts of each strand that change to gold as she moves her head. It’s a little unsettling. Like seeing your own reflection in Tom Cruise’s aviators.

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