We fell in love with her covetable hair and her girl-next-door vibe when she bounced on to our screens in Friends back in 1994. Twenty years on, and the world is still captivated by this down-to-earth actress. From the endless speculation over when she’ll marry fiancé Justin Theroux to the ever-present is-she-isn’t-she ‘bump watch’, her personal life provides constant tabloid fodder. But in reality, the 45-year-old is in no rush to tie the knot – despite what the ‘Poor Jen’ headlines would have you believe.
“We just want to do it when it’s perfect and we’re not rushed… We already feel married,” she says. After two decades in the spotlight, Jen is more than used to dealing with tabloid hyperbole. Her media narrative still insists on casting her as America’s sweetheart, wronged by her ex, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie – a depiction she can only scoff at nine years after her divorce. “There are so many [misconceptions]… the triangle with my ex-husband, and that there’s a feud. It’s a headline that won’t go away – a story that has nothing to do with reality,” she says.
Far from being the bitter cuckolded wife, Jen insists her divorce, and her subsequent failed relationships (she’s been linked to John Mayer, Vince Vaughn and Gerard Butler) have taught her valuable lessons about life and love.
“Having experienced everything you don’t want in a partner over time, it starts to narrow down what you actually do want.” Enter Theroux, who with Jen, went public with their relationship in June 2011. The pair have been inseparable ever since and now split their time between LA and New York. But despite her contentment, Jen continues to generate headlines about her love life: if she is not splitting up, she’s having a baby. After a while, it all becomes white noise, she says.
“As far as tabloid life, I just try to do my job and do it well and drown out that stupid noise. I surround myself with my amazing work, my amazing friends, my amazing partner, my beautiful dogs, and I tune that noise out,” she says. “I mean, I think it’s very sweet that people want everything for me, [but] I’m so content and happy.”
Oscar buzz Not only is her personal life on the up, but she’s enjoying something of a moment career-wise too. Having carved out a niche as a power player in films such as He’s Just Not That Into You and Just Go With It, she broke out of her romcom cage in 2011’s outrageous dark comedy Horrible Bosses to play a sexually aggressive dentist who assaults her assistant – to hilarious effect.
“I’ve been branching out and having fun playing different characters and going into some darker stuff. I’m excited about it,” says the actress, who is also starring in upcoming screwball comedy, She’s Funny That Way.
What’s more, she is generating Oscar buzz after showing off her serious acting chops in new drama Cake. The role of Claire, a bitter car crash victim who is hooked on painkillers, is something of a departure for the comedy actress and she is enjoying the learning curve.
“It’s different than a comedy where you’re just riffing on each other… it is a real character study, and you’re trying to understand the story and how much you want to reveal.” ageing gracefully With her career and love life clicking into place, Jen is understandably happy – and she looks it too.
At 45, she is the poster girl for graceful ageing. With her trademark beach-babe look, she doesn’t appear to have aged at all over the past two decades; a feat she says is down to good living rather than surgical procedures.
“There is this pressure in Hollywood to be ageless. I have been witness to women trying to stay ageless [and] I am grateful to learn from their mistakes, because I am not injecting s*** into my face. I see them and my heart breaks. I think, ‘If you only knew how much older you look.’ They are trying to stop the clock and all you can see is an insecure person who won’t let themselves just age. I also have a fiancé who will put a gun to my head if I touch my face in any way,” she adds.
Along with her hair, Jen’s gravity-defying body has been a major talking point, given that – as we saw in last year’s We’re the Millers – she has a figure many 25-year-olds would kill for. In the hit comedy, she showed just what amazing shape she is in by stripping off to her underwear for a pole-dancing scene – something she admits was an intimidating prospect. “My first thought was ‘Run away, run away’ – they were lucky they got me out of my trailer that day,” she laughs.
It’s all thanks to a combination of running, yoga and strength training, she says, admitting she gets her kicks from intense cardio. “It’s easy to get addicted to the euphoric feeling of having a good sweat after a run. It wakes up your body.”
Not that she doesn’t have her fair share of off-days, but she counters them with her signature, sunshiny can-do attitude. “If you just say, ‘OK, I’m going to get on some machine for 10 minutes,’ you just start to get the endorphins going. Then you feel great, and you just keep going. So sometimes you can actually override the ‘I don’t want to work out.’” on motherhood She’s grown up in front of our eyes, transitioning from TV actress to bona fide movie star (picking up a Golden Globe and an Emmy – among other accolades – along the way), and no one feels the change more than Jennifer.
“I feel like I’ve grown up three times, I’ve had three different periods of adolescence and an incredible evolution. All my fears that I have overcome, all the challenges that you think, ‘Oh there is no way I’m going to be able to get through this,’ and then you get through it. I feel very grateful to my history and all involved, and I would never exchange it for anything.”
Despite the pregnancy headlines, Jennifer is not taking on motherhood any time soon – though it’s a role that comes naturally to her. “My girlfriends and I are all very maternal; we are each other’s mothers, sisters, girlfriends, everything,” she says.
Part of this is because of her tumultuous relationship with her own mother, who she famously fell out with after her mum gave a tell-all interview about her daughter.
“Because a lot of us had not the most fabulous parental experiences in our own lives, we family each other,” she acknowledges. “It’s just an instinct I’ve had for many years, it just comes naturally, as it does to most women probably.”
With her down-to-earth nature, sense of humour and ‘girl’s girl’ attitude, it’s no wonder Jen is the best friend every woman wishes she had.