Getty Images; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration
by Tierney Bricker | Mon., Feb. 11, 2019 3:00 AM
Getty Images; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration
America's Sweetheart is feeling "fantastic" at 50.
Jennifer Aniston, the ultimate Hollywood girl next door, turns 50 on Feb. 11, and when looking at reaching the half-century milestone during a recent appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Show, the superstar seemed excited. "I feel fantastic," she told her friend.
And why wouldn't she? The Friends star has lived quite the life, achieving huge career goals (She is one of the highest paid women on TV ever, thank you very much), experiencing several high-profile romances (And she considers her marriages all be "successful" despite ending in divorce), and enduring almost unimaginable scrutiny on her private life. And guess what? She's still standing...and smiling.
Despite her split from husband Justin Theroux in February 2018, with the official announcement coming just days after her 49th birthday, Aniston rang in the New Year with just a few of her many famous friends, including Jason Batemen, Jimmy Kimmel and Sandra Bullock. And the group's skiing trip to Jackson Hole seemed to be setting the tone for 2019 for the actress and producer, as our source us, "Jen seemed relaxed and in her element. She was with her closest friends and very happy."
In honor of the beloved star who has kept us laughing ever since she entered Central Perk in her wedding dress in 1994 turning 50, we're gifting you with 50 fascinating and fun facts about Aniston...
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1. Born on February 11, 1969 in Sherman Oaks, Calif., Aniston's parents are actors John Aniston and Nancy Dow. Her godfather is also an actor, Telly Savalas, one of her father's best friends. Her family's original last name was Anastassakis, but it was changed after they immigrated to the United States from Greece.
2. In a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Aniston revealed her struggles with dyslexia, which she was diagnosed with in her early 20s after struggling in school. "I thought I wasn't smart. I just couldn't retain anything," she said.
3. Aniston opened up about her experience being bullied throughout middle school in an intimate chat with friend Molly McNearney in 2018.
"I was one of those kids who got sort of bullied, and I don't know why," Aniston said in her InStyle profile. "I was one of the kids who the others would decide to make fun of. It was an odd period of time during fifth, sixth, seventh grades. I was a little on the chubby side, so I was just that kid."
4. Long before she was one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood, Aniston once had a much less glamorous job as a kid. "I made my allowance as a kid cleaning toilets. I'm actually pretty good at it," Aniston told Parade in 2009. "I struggled for a while, but I was happy with my life whether I was making this amount of money, or that amount of money. I always enjoyed where I was working."
And before landing the role that would make her a household name, Aniston worked as a waitress.
"I dropped more than one Alpine burger in customers' laps, and you just do not want all of that Swiss cheese and mushrooms in your pants," she told Marie Claire. "I wasn't a good waitress, but I was told that I was very nice and charming, so people liked me anyway."
5. While attending the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (aka the iconic school from Fame), Aniston played volleyball and basketball as she studied in the drama department.
6. She was friends with Chaz Bono, Cher's son (who went by Chasity at the time), as they were classmates at the prestigious school. "Every day a group of us would go to Chaz's house after school," Aniston revealed during a 2011 interview with Allure.
7. While Aniston is known for her laidback California style, she actually went through a goth phase in high school. "High school was tragic," she told People. "Just not well-informed. You know, you're experimenting. It was the '80s and I looked like a goth nightmare. I wasn't going for most beautiful. It was, How can I be the most rebelliously unattractive?"
8. Aniston's first acting role was an uncredited one in the 1988 movie Mac and Me, in which she played a dancer at McDonald's. And before Friends, Aniston took over the role of Ferris Bueller's little sister Jeanine from Jennifer Grey in the short-lived TV series based on the iconic movie, and memorably starred in the campy horror movie Leprechaun in 1993.
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9. Aniston has been very open about the troubled relationship she had with her mother, Nancy Dow, ever since she was a child (and also watched the dissolution of her parents' marriage, which ended in 1980).
"She was critical. She was very critical of me," Aniston told The Hollywood Reporter back in 2015. "Because she was a model, she was gorgeous, stunning. I wasn't. I never was. I honestly still don't think of myself in that sort of light, which is fine. She was also very unforgiving. She would hold grudges that I just found so petty."
And the star admitted to WHO that therapy helped her understand and accept her mother's behavior, "It takes a lot of therapy, but you do absolutely get over it. That was her projection. It had nothing to do with me."
Before Dow's death in 2016, the mother and daughter spent many years estranged, with Dow giving a televised interview criticizing Aniston and even writing a tell-all in 1999, called From Mother and Daughter to Friends. (Aniston infamously did not invite her to her wedding to Brad Pitt the following year.)
In a 2018 interview with Elle, Aniston reflected on their relationship, offering some perspective into her mom's behavior.
"She was missing what was [actually] important," she said. "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. Being a single mom in the '80s I'm sure was pretty crappy."
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10. The other actresses Aniston was up against for the role of Rachel Green on Friends, which ran on NBC from 1994-2004 and became one of the most successful TVs of all-time? Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Jane Krakowski, Tea Leoni, Tiffani Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkeley, and Courtney Cox. Yes, that's right. Monica was almost Rachel!
"We originally offered Rachel to Courteney Cox," the show's co-creator Marta Kauffman once revealed, "but she said she wanted to do Monica, not Rachel."
11. Cox, of course, went on to to play Monica, Rachel's BFF, and eventually became Aniston's real-life best friend, and she is even Cox's daughter Coco's godmother. And on set, the duo and Lisa Kudrow ate lunch together every day for 10 years, with Cox saying during a 2016 NBC special, "And we ate the same food: a Jennifer salad." As for what's in it, Cox spilled in 2010, "We always had the same thing: a Cobb salad. But it wasn't really a Cobb salad. It was a Cobb salad that Jennifer doctored up with turkey bacon and garbanzo beans and I don't know what."
12. Ah, "The Rachel," the haircut that sent the nation into a frenzy, with women everywhere running to their local salon with photos of Aniston, demanding the choppy look. But it turns out, the hair icon found it "cringe-y," and called it "the ugliest haircut I've ever seen" in an interview with Glamour.
13. Even better? Her longtime hairstylist and BFF Chris McMillan admitted he was high when he first gave Aniston the infamous cut.
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14. Though she and her co-stars became the highest paid TV stars in history after netting $1 million per episode each in seasons 9 and 10, Aniston actually considered not returning for Friends' final season, admitting to in a 2004 interview that she had hesitations. (Obviously, we all know she returned and (spoiler alert!) Rachel didn't get on the plane!)
"I had a couple issues that I was dealing with," Aniston, who earned an Emmy and a Golden Globe during the show's run, explained. "I wanted it to end when people still loved us and we were on a high. And then I was also feeling like, 'How much more of Rachel do I have in me?'"
Just enough, thankfully.
15. MIA from the series finale taping was Aniston's then-husband (and one-time guest star) Brad Pitt, who told producers he wanted to watch it when it aired so he could be surprised. And one of the series' three wrap parties was held at the couple's home, which was a formal dinner that featured vintage bottles of Haut-Brion wine, which producer Kevin S. Bright had bought way back during season one.
16. Mid-way through Friends' run, Aniston was cast in the cult hit comedy Office Space, as the studio wanted a big name in the movie. Her role was beefed up, thanks to the addition of the infamous "flair" storyline. And in EW's oral history, the star admitted to nursing two crushes (one old, one new) during filming. She had gone to high school with producer David Herman, saying, "I was sort of madly in love with him and also terrified of him." And the film's writer and director Mike Judge played her character's boss, with Aniston admitting, "I loved acting with Mike in the restaurant scenes. I might even have had a crush on him."
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17. While Aniston kept her surname professionally, she actually legally changed her last name to Pitt after her their 2000 wedding. She asked to have her former name restored when she filed for divorce in 2005, a split that would rock the celebrity landscape forever. thanks to the love triangle between Aniston, Pitt and Angelina Jolie, his Mr. & Mrs. Smith co-star and eventual wife.
18. At the height of the Jennifer-Brad-Angelina drama in 2005, famous Los Angeles boutique Kitson was selling Team Aniston and Team Jolie t-shirts so fans could should their allegiance/moral support for a mere $30. According to Aniston's infamous "Unsinkable" Vanity Fair profile, sales for Aniston's shirt were outselling Jolie's 25-to-1.
19. Aniston has sued the paparazzi several times for invasion of privacy. In 2000, she sued two magazines for publishing topless photos of her that were taken in her own backyard. And in 2006, she settled a suit with a paparazzo after she had mailed out copies of topless photos of the star to several celebrity magazine editors.
In her legal documents, Aniston claimed she suffered "shame, mortification, hurt feelings, emotional distress, anger, embarrassment, humiliation, feeling of being violated and injury to her privacy and peace of mind," as the photos were once again taken in the privacy of her own home.
20. For notorious Hollywood playboy John Mayer, Aniston was the one that got away. At least that's what he was saying in 2010 after their romance came to an end.
"I've never really gotten over it," he told Rolling Stone of their split. "It was one of the worst times of my life...I'll always be sorry that it didn't last. In some ways I wish I could be with her."
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21. Due to her high-profile love life, Aniston has been a tabloid fixture (arguably THE tabloid figure) for decades, constantly the subject of headlines about her heartbreaks, hook-ups, the never-ending love triangle with Pitt and Jolie, and possibly being pregnant every other week.
And in 2016, Aniston finally had enough, penning a powerful op-ed for The Huffington Post titled "For the Record," in which she called out the objectification her herself and women in general by the media.
"For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up," she wrote. "I'm fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of 'journalism,' the 'First Amendment' and "celebrity news."
She also called out the endless (and sometimes dangerous) paparazzi attention and the media's desire to define her narrative as "incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy" because she's yet to have children.
She wrote, "We don't need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own 'happily ever after' for ourselves." Amen!
22. She's been all around the world, but Aniston's favorite vacation spot is Cabo San Lucas. And she's often brought her famous friends, like Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, Courteney Cox, Jason Bateman and his wife Amanda Anka, . Her go-to spot, should you want to have fun in the sun Aniston-style, is the One & Only Palmilla.
23. Good news: Mexican food does a body good…at least judging by Aniston, who has been vocal in the past about her love for chips, guac and tacos. "I always love a good Mexican dish, like fluffy crispy tortilla chips with guac," she told Harper's Bazaar.
And her favorite drink is a, naturally, margarita, telling Yaho! Beauty her perfect one is just "pure tequila, lime juice, a squinch of Cointreau. It's delicious."
24. Of course, exercise also does a body good, with Aniston always being honest about how hard she works to maintain her famous figure.
"Usually, my love is running. I like to do a good trifecta, where I do the bike for 15 minutes, elliptical for 15, and then I run for 15. On the elliptical I kind of do sprints for 90 seconds, take it back to a jog for 30 seconds, and do intervals for the last minutes. Then I mix a day of yoga," she told Yahoo!. "Lately, because of my injury, I've only been able to do Barre method. Boy, I forgot how much that really hurts and kicks your butt."
24. Last year, Aniston fell in love with a new workout: boxing, which happens to double as a therapy session. "Boxing is a great way to get aggression out. You get a mental release of all this crap you're taking into your ears and eyes every day and have little fantasy moments imagining who you're actually punching," she told InStyle. "I'm just grateful it's not actually the person, even though there's one person. You know what I mean. It's all good."
26: Given her rare attainable-yet-aspirational lifestyle, Aniston has become a spokesperson for Aveeno, Smartwater, and Eyelove, to name just a few, with Forbes estimating she "makes over $10 million a year through her endorsements."
27: Speaking of Smartwater, Aniston's advice to achieve her enviable glow is quite simple: "I can never stress enough to my friends that they must do as I do … hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink lots of water, get enough sleep, exercise, and eat a clean healthy diet, whenever possible," she told The Cut.
28. Aniston is actually a big fan of reality TV. "I sadly am very much interested in the Kardashian-Jenner thing," she admitted to People in 2015. "That's a guilty pleasure for sure."
29. Another guilty pleasure? The Bachelor franchise, with Aniston even appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live on 2016 to reveal her top four picks in Nick Viall's season. (Future Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay was one of her favorites, so she clearly has good instincts.)
"I'm not gonna lie," the actress told Access Hollywood of her love for the show. "It's junk food. It's great junk food. It's a train wreck! Have you seen them? You can't feel bad for them. They've done that to themselves, just to entertain us."
30. Sorry, friends, but while she's a big fan of some of the Internet's favorite shows, Aniston has vowed to NEVER join social media.
"For me, it's self-preservation. There's enough written about me out there and enough that's not true," she said on The Thrive Global podcast. "There's one school of thought, which is, ‘Why don't you be on social media and really show who you really are?' And I don't need to…This is the one place I have that's really protected and is mine and is what my life is without a camera rolling or paparazzi or media exposure."
31. But that doesn't mean she's unplugged, as she admitted to occasionally googling someone's Instagram, and proudly stated she always keeps her inbox at zero. "You'll never see 2,895,000 emails," Aniston said in the episode. "When I go to clear out the box in the morning, I answer my emails and give everybody the answers they need and that's it."
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32. While detailing her first meeting with Dolly Parton, whom she worked with on her Netflix movie Dumplin', Aniston revealed just how big of a fan she was when she was introduced to the icon eight years ago.
"I went up and met her that night cause I loved her since I was little. You know, sang into a hairbrush singing Dolly Parton," she told Jimmy Kimmel. "I told her that I named my dog after her."
33. In addition to Dolly, her adopted white shepherd named after Parton, Aniston also had another beloved dog named Norman, who died in 2011 at the age of 15, with the actress getting a tattoo, her first, of his name on her right foot.
34. She once told James Lipton on Inside the Actor's Studio that "Norman" was her favorite word. (Cue the tears!)
35. Since then, Aniston (along with her now ex-husband Justin Theroux) has adopted a pitbull named Sophie and a terrier, Clyde.
36. Despite not even having a current show on the air in 2018, Aniston still made the list of highest-paid TV stars in 2018, according to Variety. Aniston and her co-star Reese Witherspoon are each set to make $1.1 million per episode for their upcoming untitled Apple dramedy about morning talk show hosts. (Plus, they will earn additional fees as they are both executive producers.)
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37. We all know that age-old question celebs get asked: Who is their celebrity crush? Well, it turns out Aniston is the answer for quite a few men in Hollywood. Riverdale's two male leads KJ Apa and Cole Sprouse copped to nursing crushes on her.
Apa admitted to Cosmopolitan that he has a crush on Aniston even though he had never seen an episode of Friends, while Sprouse reminisced on working with her on the sitcom (as he and twin brother Dylan played Ross' son, Ben).
"I had a really, really hard time working with [Jennifer] because I was so in love with her," he told the New York Post. "I was infatuated. I was speechless. I'd get all bubbly and forget my lines and completely blank. It was so difficult."
38. But those young Hollywood hunks need to get in line, as other famous men revealed their feelings for Aniston long before them.
Jake Gyllenhaal, who starred opposite Aniston in The Good Girl, got a little flustered while talking about his crush on the star. "I will say, have had, had a crush on her for years and working with her was not easy, you know," he told People. "She was, it was...I was, umm...yeah, that's all I'm going to say. It was, err, it was lovely. You know, it wasn't hard."
39. And Ashton Kutcher also revealed he once made a bet in high school, when he was 17 and the star was his screen-saver, that he would go on a date with her. And he ended up getting the chance, back when she was still married to Pitt.
"Five years later I actually met her and I asked Brad Pitt's permission to ask his wife out on a date. He was so cool and said, 'You go for it,' so I asked her and she turned me down," Kutcher said on The Graham Norton Show.
40. After leaving Plan B, the production company she founded with Pitt in 2006, Aniston and her best friend Kristin Hahn founded Echo Films in 2008. The company, which has a deal with Universal Pictures, has produced some of Aniston's movies, including The Switch, Cake and Dumplin'.
41. In addition to her Apple comedy with Witherspoon, Aniston is set to executive produce and star in several high-profile projects, including The Fixer (about real-life Miss USA-turned-sports manager Denise White), Tig Notaro's Netflix series (in which she is playing the first female POTUS), and a comedy with Jason Bateman.
42. After meeting when NBC staged a Friends-E.R. crossover, Aniston has remained friends with George Clooney for decades (even after her split from Pitt, Clooney's friend and frequent collaborator). She even visited him and his family, including wife Amal Clooney and their twins, in Italy over the summer. "It's amazing to see him with children," Aniston told Ellen DeGeneres in December 2018. "That's what we talked about, that anything can happen."
43. Aniston has infamously told the story of how she was told to lose 30 pounds by her agents before auditioning for Friends. "My agent said, 'Actually, I've been meaning to talk to you about that,'" she recalled in a 1996 Rolling Stone cover story. "My agent gave it to me straight. Nicest thing he ever did...the disgusting thing of Hollywood—I wasn't getting lots of jobs 'cause I was too heavy."
She dropped the weight with Nutri/System, even going on The Howard Stern Show to deliver a testimonial. "It was amazing to see this thing emerge," she said of body at the time. "I never knew I had this body in me."
44. Cut to over 20 years later and Aniston has been vocal about the unrealistic expectations Hollywood places on women.
"It's time to just stop thinking beauty is in the shape of a size 4 and the right butt size and the right waist size and the right measurements," she told InStyle in 2018. "It's just old. We've done it. We've been there. Let's move on."
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45. Aniston has also voiced her experience with harassment in the workplace following the #MeToo movement. "I've definitely had some sloppy moves made on me by other actors, and I handled it by walking away," she said in the InStyle profile. "I've never had anyone in a position of power make me feel uncomfortable and leverage that over me. In my personal experience I've been treated worse verbally and energetically by some women in this industry."
46. One fear Aniston has yet to overcome in her life is one that will probably surprise you, given her jet-setting lifestyle: her fear of flying.
"It started in my 20s. It was a weird, scary flight. Afterward I began noticing the stories on the news about plane crashes, and I became all-consumed with the idea of dying on an airplane," she revealed. "It was so out of control in my brain. So, yeah, that's something I'd like to get rid of. It's so irrational."
47. When it comes to her personal friend group IRL, Aniston is the planner, according to BFF Kristin Hahn, who called her the "social glue" and admitted to Elle, "When she's not in town, we almost don't know what to do with ourselves."
48. While Aniston has been divorced twice, she told Elle she doesn't view them as failures. "My marriages, they've been very successful, in [my] personal opinion. 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."
49. Now 50, Aniston is still uncertain when it comes to potentially becoming a mother, admitting to Elle she finds it "quite honestly, kind of frightening." She explained, "Some people are just built to be wives and have babies. I don't know how naturally that comes to me. 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."
50. And finally, here's the latest she's said about a potential Friends revival, because we know you're still wondering:
"Before that show ended, people were asking if we were coming back. Courteney [Cox] and Lisa [Kudrow] and I talk about it. I fantasize about it. It really was the greatest job I ever had," she told InStyle. "I don't know what it would look like today, but you never know. So many shows are being successfully rebooted. I know Matt LeBlanc doesn't want to be asked that question anymore. But maybe we could talk him into it. If we give it some time, Lisa, Courteney, and I could reboot The Golden Girls and spend our last years together on wicker furniture."
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