40 Fascinating Facts About People's Icon Winner Jennifer Aniston

By Kelsey Klemme Nov 04, 2019 1:00 PMTags
Watch: Jennifer Aniston People's Icon: E! People's Choice Awards

Your People's Icon has been chosen, but how well do you really know the star?

In October, E! announced that Jennifer Aniston is set to receive the 2019 People's Icon Award at this year's E! People's Choice Awards. Aniston is being recognized with the honor for her decades of portraying unforgettable characters across film and television.

Over the years, we've fallen in love with Aniston from when she was playing Rachel Green on Friends to her roles in other movies we're obsessed with like Office Space, Horrible Bosses and the PCAs-nominated Netflix film Murder Mystery.

However, there is a lot you might not know about the 50-year-old A-lister! For example, before she played Rachel on Friends she turned down a role to be a cast member on the long-running sketch show Saturday Night Live. She also wasn't as in love with that Rachel haircut that everybody begged their hairdressers for in the '90s.

To help you get to know the iconic celeb a little bit better, we've rounded up 50 fascinating facts about the award-winning performer.

Be sure to tune into the PCAs on Nov. 10 to see Aniston take home her People's Icon award and to see what other stars will end up winners across 43 categories in movies, TV, music and pop culture.

Watch the 2019 People's Choice Awards Sunday, Nov. 10 at 9 p.m., only on E!

1. Aniston was born on February 11, 1969 in Sherman Oaks, Calif., to actors John Aniston and Nancy Dow. Her godfather is also 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 also friends with Chaz BonoCher's son, 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. She also memorably starred in the campy horror movie Leprechaun in 1993.

9. 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 Courteney 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."

10. Cox, of course, went on to to play Monica, Rachel's BFF, and eventually became Aniston's real-life best friend.

Aniston even is the godmother to Cox's daughter, Coco. 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."

11. Aniston's path to waiting for the right role—which of course was Friends—included her turning down other offers, including a spot on Saturday Night Live.

On an appearance on The Howard Stern Show in late 2019, Aniston admitted she didn't think she'd "like the environment there" and saw herself as a more serious actress than comedic one. Of course, fans of the live sketch show did eventually get to see Aniston on their screens when she hosted the show in 1999 and 2004 and even made a cameo in 2016.

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. Even better? Her longtime hairstylist and BFF Chris McMillan admitted he was high when he first gave Aniston the infamous cut.

13. 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 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.

14. One of the series' three wrap parties was held at Aniston's home, where the event was a formal dinner that featured vintage bottles of Haut-Brion wine that producer Kevin S. Bright had bought way back during season one.

15. 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."

16. While Aniston had crushes on some of her co-stars, other celebrities felt like she was the one that got away. At least, that was the case for John Mayer after their romance came to an end in 2010.

"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."

17. After years of tabloids speculating on her personal life, Aniston finally had enough. She penned a powerful op-ed for The Huffington Post titled "For the Record," in which she called out the objectification of 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!

18. 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.

19. 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, naturally, a margarita, telling Yahoo! Beauty her perfect one is just "pure tequila, lime juice, a squinch of Cointreau. It's delicious."

20. 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."

21. 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."

22: 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."

23: 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

24. 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."

25. 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.

26. 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."

27. In addition to Dolly, her adopted white shepherd that passed away in July 2019, 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.

Since then, Aniston (along with her now ex-husband Justin Theroux) has adopted a pitbull named Sophie and a terrier, Clyde.

28. 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 Apple+ dramedy The Morning Show. (Plus, they will earn additional fees as they are both executive producers.)

29. 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 the character 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."

30. 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."

31. 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.

"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.

32. 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'. 

33. In addition to her Apple+ series 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. 

34. After meeting when NBC staged a Friends-E.R. crossover, Aniston has remained friends with George Clooney for decades. 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."

35. 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."

36. 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."

37. 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."

38. Sorry Kim Kardashian, but only Aniston can truly claim she broke the Internet! When Aniston joined Instagram in October 2019 (after famously saying she would never join social media), she literally broke the platform because so many people were trying to follow the star.

39. Aniston's very first Instagram post was a pic with all her Friends co-stars. It garnered 14.3 million likes and, as of this writing, Aniston's account has an impressive 16.3 million fans following her.

40. 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."

Watch the 2019 People's Choice Awards Sunday, Nov. 10 at 9 p.m., only on E!

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