Were Jennifer Aniston’s life a movie, she’d be on the verge of some very big trouble. After all, as every filmgoer knows, it’s always just at that glowing, warm-fuzzy moment when the heroine seems to have found success, true love and a generally soft-focus, montage-like existence that you can be sure all hell is about to break loose.
To recap: The actress recently agreed to a 10th season of “Friends,” thereby making the show’s 26 million fans very happy and some NBC executives positively ecstatic; she’s contentedly married to Hollywood’s number-one golden-streaked princeling, Brad Pitt; she’s banished her wicked (or at least, very ill-mannered) memoir-writing mother from the proverbial kingdom until further notice; she’s won over the fire-breathing critics with her turn as a windbreaker-clad Madame Bovary in The Good Girl, and she’s bought herself an enormous manse in Beverly Hills, where she and Mr. Pitt plan to raise somewhere between two and seven children, depending on whom you ask. In movieland, storm clouds would be gathering fast.
Of course, Jennifer Aniston’s life is not a movie, and instead of heading for a third-act reversal, she just keeps leaping from mountaintop to mountaintop. While many small-screen stars move on to roles in KFC commercials, watered-down spin-offs and straight-to-video flops, she’s nabbed coveted starring parts opposite two of Hollywood’s biggest box-office deities, Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller, thereby finding herself in the tiny golden circle of first-name-only stars like Cameron and Julia and Reese.
“Jennifer just has ‘it,’” says Tom Shadyac, who’s currently directing her in the Carrey film Bruce Almighty. “If you look at the handful of A-list actors that exist in Hollywood, you realize that the thing they all share, in addition to being beautiful and talented, is this amazing relatability. When you watch Jennifer, she manages to amaze you and make you feel like she might be your next-door neighbor at the same time, which, when you consider how much money she makes and who she’s married to, is pretty incredible.”
All of which helps to explain why, despite letting herself be dragged back to Central Perk for another round of lattes next season, Aniston is just about ready for life after Rachel. “I mean, I’m completely terrified about ‘Friends’ coming to an end, but I’m also dying for it to end, you know?” she says cheerfully, sitting on the terrace of the modest Hollywood Hills “love nest,” as it’s invariably described, that she and Pitt will soon surrender in favor of the $13.5 million six-bedroom French Normandy number they recently purchased. It’s a crisp, clear December afternoon, and the actress—who’s dressed in faded Levi’s and a tight charcoal-gray turtleneck sweater—looks terrific, her fabled honey-toned hair tumbling casually around her shoulders.