Seeing Jennifer Aniston get physically attacked in her new movie Life of Crime isn't an easy thing to watch.
Based on Elmore Leonard's novel The Switch and directed by Daniel Schechter, the dark comedy stars Aniston as a housewife who is kidnapped by a couple of a petty criminals (John Hawkes and Mos Def) for a $1 million ransom. Her shady real estate developer husband (Tim Robbins) refuses to pay up.
In one of the darkest moments of the film, Aniston is assaulted by a bumbling neo-Nazi played by Sons of Anarchy's Mark Boone Junior.
"If you're going to go there and sell it, you've gotta do it," Aniston told me Thursday at the Life of Crime premiere in Hollywood. "We were, of course, very choreographed to a point. I also trusted the director, Dan."
Schechter said when he first adapted the book into a screenplay, it was the one scene he couldn't figure out how to shoot. "That was the scene I was most scared to do," he said. "But then we started going through the motions. We had a stunt coordinator and we had a really good camera operator there.
"I only thought I was going to get one take," Schechter said. "Someone mistakenly told me, ‘We'll do only one take of that with Jen and take it easy on her.' So I did one take and it was fantastic, but I said, ‘Can we just do the last bit again?' Jen said, ‘Can we just do it all the way through?'"
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They did two more takes. "We ended up using those because she was just so willing to go there and she wanted to be pushed there," Schechter said.
Fortunately, the movie is much more fun than dark. The 1970s wardrobe is awesomely authentic—but maybe too authentic.
Aniston laughed, "It's itchy, ill-fitting and made from terrible materials."
Life of Crime is in theaters and available on iTunes and VOD today.